How To Stop Your Dog From Pulling On Leash - Part I

“Walking a dog without being dragged down the street is simple! In fact, it’s so simple you only need to know two techniques.” - Chad Culp

“No Way! Two simple techniques? I don’t believe you! I’ve tried everything and it has NOT been EASY!”

I know, I know, it’s a bold statement. It’s also totally understandable that you’d be skeptical considering the plethora of complex ideas being tossed around the Internet. However, I said it was SIMPLE, I did not say it was EASY. By simple I mean it’s not complicated. It is not necessarily easy because it requires good timing, physical coordination and consistency. Even so, it still only requires two techniques.

“So what are the two techniques?”

The only two techniques you need to know are Direction Changes and Leash Pops. Let’s get some details:

Direction Changes: Nothing complex here, you simply turn and go the other way. This should be done every time the dog gets to the end of the leash but you can also change directions for no apparent reason at all. You can go left, right, do a complete 180, whatever you want. There are two things happening here:

  1. The dog learns that pulling does not get him where he wants to go.
  2. The dog learns that you are leading the walk and deciding which way to go. He may also think you are a crazy person that can’t make up your mind but that’s fine as long as the dog is not allowed to pull.

You may notice that this is the opposite of what normally happens. Most people will continue to walk forward, white knuckling the leash with the dog pulling, choking and gagging all the way. Others will “try” the direction changes but they don’t do it consistently. The key is to change directions every time the dog gets to the end of the leash...EVERY...SINGLE...TIME.

In the beginning you may find yourself pacing back and forth and never actually going anywhere. That’s fine, it’s part of the technique. However, you will probably get sick of pacing back and forth and that’s why you also need to learn to “Pop” the leash.

Leash Pops: A leash “Pop” (aka leash correction) is a quick snap or jerk on the leash. It’s fast, very fast, like snapping your fingers. The intensity can vary dramatically depending on the temperament and strength of the dog but it’s really more about speed than strength. Most of the time the pops are relatively gentle physical signals and not harsh punishments. Many times a flick of the wrist will due. However, sometimes the leash needs to be popped very firmly to get a dog to pay attention...especially if you are dealing with a strong dog that has a long history of pulling. Even so, relative to the amount of choking and gagging most dogs have already been doing, a quick pop on the leash is less harmful to the dog.

Most people “try” popping the leash and fail to get results because they’re not consistent, their timing is off, the “Pop” is too soft or they are pulling rather than popping. Beware: there is also the possibilty of popping to hard, which can harm the dog physically or mentally but most of the clients I see are very gentle and need to pop faster and a little harder. The pop needs to happen every time the dog gets to the end of the leash...EVERY...SINGLE...TIME.

Combinations: These two techniques work really well in tandem. The main thing is to consistently maintain a loose leash.

Definition: A loose leash has a visible dip in it.

As soon as that leash starts to come up into a straight line it needs to be popped or you need to change directions...EVERY...SINGLE...TIME. Once the dog is already pulling, the leash will be tight and you can’t pop a tight leash. At that point you need to change directions. If the pops are working well you can keep moving forward but if you find yourself constantly popping, popping, popping, you probably need to change directions more frequently. You should also give a little pop just before changing directions so the dog is not hitting the end of the leash without warning. You can also add verbal commands such as “Easy” and “Let’s go.”

“Every step taken with a tight leash is training the dog to pull...every...single...step.” - Chad Culp

Conclusion

That’s it. Those are the only two techniques you need to know to teach loose leash walking. You can stop reading here and have pretty much all the info you need. However, you can also read Part II for more details and answers to common questions.

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-Chad Culp, Certified Dog Trainer and Canine Behavior Consultant

© Thriving Canine 2018