Many dog parents really don't look forward to taking their pups for a walk because their dogs pull. Pulling is not fun - not for you and not for your dog. You can't imaging how much damage pulling can do to your dogs neck and back!
Dog pulls man (via)
Pulling is a natural behavior when a dog is on a leash, not because of the leash, per se, but because when a dog is outside, he's curious about all the new stuff he sees and smells outdoors. Yes, even if he's walked around the same block many times before, to his senses everything is always new.
Without going into all the environmental elements that change from day to day or the many other expected or unexpected occurrences of your walks, never mind if you're in a totally new setting, I'll just focus on how to train your dog to confront these elements, so you and she will enjoy your walks together and not come home with sore throats and muscles.
Whether your dog is a puppy or a senior, if she pulls she should wear a no-pull harness, and she should wear it whenever you take her out, whether it's in your neighborhood, to the dog park, or in the car. (Coincidentally, my alter-ego recently posted a blog about 5 of the best no-pull harnesses.)
Fitting The No-Pull Harness: Your dog not only needs to wear a no-pull harness, you need to train her to walk with it on. And if you do your training both of you will be happy; she will be able to explore her surroundings and you will not be pulled down flat on your face. Trust me, even a little dog can do that to you if you're unsuspecting.
Keep your dog's collar on with his identity tags. (This should remain on your dog at all times.) Before you go out, the no-pull harness should be adjusted to fit your dog correctly (instructions come with the harness), and you should attach a sturdy nylon 6-foot leash to the 'front leash access,' and another one to the D-ring to the 'back leash access.' Do not over-tighten the harness. There should be room for two fingers under the front and back halters. This is how it would look:
Training With The No-Pull Harness: Using both leashes will give you more control while you are training. The leash attached to the top of the harness is your main leash, one that you will use throughout your training and afterward.
The leash attached to the front hook is for correcting your dog.
Next, you will need a bag or pocket full of small treats that your dog absolutely adores. Mix them up for variety.
The most important thing you need is patience! It may take some time to teach your dog not to pull.
Once you decide to train your dog not to pull, you will need to be consistent, and that means being consistent in your training and correction every time you go out with your dog. Harness and leashes ready, set goals for each outing.
My goals are simple:
1) reward my dog for walking near me and not pulling;
2) correct my dog with a small tug on his front leash every time he pulls and distract and reward him with a treat; and
3) allow my dog plenty of freedom to sniff, visit, and look around, as long as he is not pulling me. Number 3 is very important; exploration is rewarding!
There may be an emergency situation when your dog will not respond to a gentle tug at the chest. In that case, don't use the front leash; use the back leash and the back handle (on all harnesses in 'the 5 best') to restrain him. That will give you the most leverage and do the least amount of harm to your dog.
It's ideal to leash train your dog as a puppy but, more and more, people are adopting older dogs. It is harder to train an older dog, but remember all dogs really want to please you; they may not know how yet. You just need to teach them.