How To Train Your Dog To Stop Pulling On Walks

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When I was going through the questions submitted on the question and answer section of doggywoof, I ran across the question that I get asked the most. Ann writes:

I have a 1-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier. He pulls a lot on his leash and I am just wondering, how can I make him stop? Any special tricks to help train him?

Dogs that pull during walks cause a couple of things to happen. The dog pulls and it is physically difficult, and stops being fun for both dog and owner. And many times the walks lessen, or stop so the dogs gets no more practice, so they never get better. Here are a few things to try to help your dog to stop pulling.

Use the right equipment

There are several training collars that will help with pulling. Using the right collar can make or break a good relaxing walk. Using the flat collar that hold the tags would be the goal, but it’s not always what to start with. I believe that using a training collar of some sort is the cue to the dog that they are “on the job.” It is like us putting on our work clothes vs. the clothes we wear to mow the yard. We know what is expected when we have those clothes on. Here are a few of my favorites and how they are used.

Martingale: This collar comes in slip on, clip on, and chain top.  They all work the same way. There is a slight tightening of the collar when the dog pulls to the end of the leash.  This would also be a good choice if your dog tends to back out of collars.

Gentle Leader: This collar looks and fits like a horse halter. The strap across the nose and the strap that goes behind the ears work in unison to help keep the dog from pulling. The leash is attached under the dog’s chin so when they pull, the nose pulls under and discourages pulling. When buying this collar, be sure to watch the DVD that comes with it for proper fit and safety. This collar is a good choice for dogs in the hound family, as it controls the nose.

Non-pull harnesses: These harnesses are not the ones with the leash clip on the back.  These harnesses have the leash clip in the front, and as the dog pulls, it offsets them just a little.

What to do during the walk

When your dog pulls during a walk, just stop. When you stop, your dog will probably look back as if to say “I thought we were going.” He may take a step of two back toward you, which is exactly what you want. When you get a loose or slack leash, you can move  but as soon as the leash tightens again, stop. You may look foolish at first because it may take you 15 minutes to get down the driveway, but once your dog figures out that he doesn’t go anywhere unless he isn’t pulling, he will stop pulling.

Another thing you can do is when your dog starts pulling, just turn and walk the other way. Do not do this when using a gentle leader collar. If your dog turns with you but just starts pulling again, you can turn again.  As before, he will figure out that as long as he pulls, he doesn’t go where he wants to.

Hopefully these tips will help, but the best thing you can take on your walk is patience.  Nothing will work immediately. Take a deep breath and keep on walkin’.

Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at and on Facebook.

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