Dear Mary Puppins,
I have a 6-month old puppy and she constantly pulls on walks! How can I get her to stop pulling and walk nicely?
Dear Walking Dog Mom,
Ask any trainer, this is one of the most common problems expressed by dog parents! Especially for puppies. No fear! You can teach your puppy to walk nicely without pulling. Shown in my segment for Spot’s Challenge #1 I addressed some loose leash walking skills with an emphasis on not pulling. There are two main schools of thought for Loose Leash Walking: 1. The Stop and Be Still Technique 2. The Reverse Direction Technique as explained by Dog Trainer Victoria Stillwell.
The Stop and Be Still Technique requires just that, to stop and be still when your dog pulls you. The idea is that they will eventually stop pulling and look to you, the dog parent, for guidance. I tend to prefer the second method. The Reverse Direction Technique requires you to turn around and walk backwards with your dog upon pulling. This can be very effective because you are not allowing them to go in the direction they are pulling. By turning around and doing a “reset” you can easily refocus your dog’s attention. I like to also combine this technique with some Hand Targeting. After doing your turnaround reset, have your dog use hand targeting or “touch” to slowly walk forward with some sitting along the way. I find this starts to teach polite walking and walking at a slow and steady pace.
There are also helpful ways to hold and manage a dog on leash in general! Dr. Sophia Yin breaks down leash management skills in Take The Lead, Safely! Leash Walking Skills Every Human Needs to Know. For instance, shortening the leash when your dog is pulling can be helpful, but how you, the dog parent, is holding and gripping the leash is just as important. Dogs tend to get used to the “tension” feeling when pulling on the leash. The goal should be to eliminate this feeling as much as possible. Whether you use the The Stop and Be Still Technique, The Reverse Direction Technique or your handling of the leash to guide your puppy! If you start incorporating these skills and advice into your walks I know you will see a difference.
The Stop and Be Still Technique requires just that, to stop and be still when your dog pulls you. The idea is that they will eventually stop pulling and look to you, the dog parent, for guidance.