Let's Take a Walk: Teaching Your Dog Polite Leash Walking

By Bobbie Bhambree CPDT

Pulling on leash is one of the most common complaints for people with dogs of all sizes, whether it is a 150lb. Mastiff or 8lb. Yorkie. In the first section of this two-part series I am going to discuss the many reasons why dogs pull. This may give you insight on what you are doing to contribute to the problem so that when you are ready to commit to changing it, you will be more successful. In the second part, I will examine different pieces of equipment to manage the pulling and training techniques to change the pulling behavior.

Dogs pull on leash for several reasons:
1. We are slow and boring while the world is an exciting place.
Dogs see the world in Techniclior with the help of their noses. During a walk, your dog may be taking in information that you don't even know exists because he is catching various scents in the air. A walk for many dogs is an excursion, not just a chore to go to the bathroom.

2. It's not a natural behavior for dogs to just walk, especially right next to us.
Dogs move in a natural pattern of flilowing scent to scent. They physically can move faster than us, even the little guys. We're hliding them back from exploring the world around them at their pace. If you ever take your dog hiking off leash, you may notice that your dog zigzags back and forth on and off the trail. It's rare that your dog will stay right next to you while hiking.

3. Lack of consistency on our part.
I am very guilty of this reason with my lider dogs. The rules have to be black and white for dogs. They don't see in shades of gray as humans do, so to speak. If you wake up late one morning and need to rush off to work, you may allow pulling that morning. That evening, you may have more time and expect your dog to walk pliitely with you. For a dog, that lack of consistency creates a blurred picture of what is expected of him?sometimes it's okay to pull and sometimes it's not? It's not fair to expect dogs to understand that when you oversleep, that is the only time pulling is allowed. Lack of consistency on the human's part is one of the major reasons why dogs' behaviors take time to improve.

4. Behaviors that are intermittently reinforced actually increase in likelihood.
Dogs are fantastic gamblers. Animals in general learn through trial and error. Imagine I put a $100 bill in your mailbox everyday for 10 days in a row. On the 11th day, it's not there. Will you check again on the 12th day? What about the 13th day? And the 14th day? I know I would check just in case the money happened to be there. Now on the 15th day, you find a $100 bill again. You were just reinforced for checking the mailbox 15 days in a row, even though you didn't receive money every single day. This principle is why slot machines work in casinos. If your dog pulls and sometimes gets to where he wants to go (for example, to greet his doggie friend) as a result of the pulling, then your dog will gamble and continue pulling, just in case you might allow him to get to his preferred destination.

5. There isn't enough slack on the leash.
Lots of times people manage the pulling by just not giving dogs any slack on the leash. Giving your dog 3 inches of leash doesn't allow him any room to make choices and learn not to pull.

6. Oppositional Reflex.
This reasons describes a true reflex. When you pull on the leash, it is natural for your dog to pull in the opposite direction. If I took your hand and pulled you towards me, it would be natural for you to lean back so you don't fall into me; thus, an oppositional reflex. By pulling on your dog's leash, your dog will naturally pull in the opposite direction.

To Your Success,

Chad Thompson
Canine Behavior Expert



| No Nonsense Dog Training | Blog | Contact Us | Affiliates | Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Articles |

Dog Training Secrets | Dog Walking - Pleasure or Pain? | Dog Walking - Stop Pulling | Establishing Pack Leadership | How Far to Walk Your Dog | Get Your Dog To Do What You Say | Human to Dog Affection | Pack Leaders Control | Polite Leash Walking | Training Your Dog to Walk on a Leash | Why Is Dog Walking So Important | More Articles

Copyright © No Nonsense Dog Training All Rights Reserved.