Let’s be clear about one thing. Training a dog not to pull is not the same thing as going for a walk. You train for the behavior so you can go for a walk. Why do dogs pull? It works! They pull, we follow, so we actually teach them to pull. Our behavior needs to change first before the dog can learn to not pull.
For dog that just doesn’t know the rules and pulls a little bit, simply stopping, completely, calling the dog back to you, resume walking. When the dog pulls again, stop, call the dog back to you, resume walking, etc. Sometimes you can take just a few steps before the pulling resumes but after a few stops and starts you will be able to take more steps before the pulling stars. This stopping and starting makes for a very tedious walk which is why I call it training. The younger the dog the more this simple exercise will work.
For the dog who really has learned to pull with gusto we can introduce a couple more tactics such as adding turns, both right and left as well as turn about which is a 180 turn. The more random the turns the more the dog needs to pay attention to what you are doing in order to stay with you. The nice thing about the 180 is that when the dog is ahead of you, turn and quickly walk forward so that the dog actually has to turn and catch up with you. If he stays with you for a few steps, praise/click and treat. Repeat and repeat and repeat but keep the training sessions short – about five minutes and have 4 – 5 training sessions per day. Keep it fun. Don’t get discourage. He is not just learning what you want. He is, in all probability, also learning what you don’t want. It’s a bit more complicated.
For the dog who is a powerful puller I have had success in adding a piece of equipment called a Gentle Leader that really breaks the pulling habit. This can be purchased at any big box pet store or through the internet. They are not expensive and I think they are worth every penny. They come with an instructional DVD and are very easy to use.
As a TTouch Practitioner I always recommend getting the dog’s leash off the collar and have the dog fitted for a harness. Getting the pressure off the neck will change your dog’s behavior in many positive ways. Over the next few weeks I will write much more about that.