Had an interesting appointment yesterday. The dog owner could not walk his dog in the neighborhood. If his dog saw a dog, a person, or car it quickly turned into chaos. His dog would pull so hard his front legs would come off the ground and the owner would have to hold on with both hands and ride out the storm until the distraction passed. This did not make walking enjoyable. And when something is unpleasant, we tend to avoid doing it. This results in the dog getting less walks which is not good for the dog.
I explain to every dog owner I work with they should be able to walk their dog and hold a cup of coffee at the same time. If you can walk your dog and hold a cup of coffee, you have excellent on-leash control and your walks will be enjoyable.
The first problem with the dog I was helping yesterday was simple. He had the dog on a harness. It wasn’t his fault because he was instructed by another dog trainer to use a harness. When I started in dog training no one used a harness to train their dog. If you used a harness it was for one purpose: To pull!
Go to YouTube and watch videos of sled dogs. They ALL have harnesses.
Dog owners are being told by trainers to use harnesses and it baffles me because it is extremely difficult to teach a dog to walk on leash with a harness. When the dog feels the slightest pressure it will result in pulling. The biggest problem with leash walking is opposition reflex. You pull back on the leash and your dog pulls away from you. The harder you pull, the harder your dog pulls. If I was to put my hand on your back and started to lean into you, you would brace and apply counter pressure. You would do this to keep your balance. This is what happens with dogs. We are pulling and they are resisting because it is natural for them. With a harness, dogs will pull even harder because they can throw all of their weight into it.
The first step to teaching your dog to walk on leash is to make sure there is no opposition reflex. The next step is to teach your dog what you want him to do, and the last step is to provide feedback when he pulls. Done correctly with the right tools, your dog can quickly and easily become a leash walking champ. The dog I talked about at the beginning of this was calmly walking next to the owner within a half hour.
- Does your dog pull?
- Would you like it to stop?
- Confused about which collar or harness to use?
As always I am here to help. Give me a call or fill out the form for a free consult and we’ll set up a day and time to meet.