Walking dogs

Okay; how many of you walk on an angle, with your body compensating for the constant tugging inflicted by the canine on the other end of your leash? Probably a good percentage of you; I see it on a daily basis and even if you have a tiny little munchkin on the end of your leash it basically sucks to walk like this. It's not an enjoyable walk; and the power of the pull can vary from low level tugging to a dog who seems to be trying to win the Iditarod. (I have one of these types.) If you have one of these sled dog walkers and you aren't a fan of walking at an angle with one arm longer than the other; there are things you can do to help the situation.

The first thing to look at is your equipment. Constant pulling can damage a dogs neck and throat so a harness of some sort is best until you get the pulling under control. My favorite head harness is the Gentle Leader; I like the way it fits best. And for body harnesses I like the Easy Walker; it is specifically designed to aid in non pulling. Some harnesses can actually make pulling worse by giving the dogs something to lean into. I use this harness on Luke and highly recommend it.

The best way to stop pulling is to stop it before it starts obviously. So if you have a new dog or puppy, never allow pulling right from the get go. That means if you feel a tight leash you stop until you feel a loose leash. This teaches your dog right from the beginning that walking with a tight leash simply doesn't work. Tight leash=stop, loose leash=walking.

Teaching a dog not to pull who is already a well established puller can be alot of work but it is well worth it in the long run. To start off with get a Premier face or body harness. Next comes the work; no walking if your dog is pulling. Quite a statement; hmmmmmm how to walk without pulling. This may mean that you need to get rid of some excess energy first; an off leash major romp helps in the beginning. Once your dog is tired; you will have much better results. Even if you are simply going to the dog park to let them rip; you should not allow your dog to drag you there.

Babysteps are the only way to go; your first goal is to take one step with no pulling, treat and praise. Teaching your dog not to pull is much easier if you have a dog that pays attention to you. If your dog is totally focused on environmental stimulus it is much more difficult; so basic training in general is a good idea. Will your dog do a sit, down, stay and come on leash at the park? If not get to work.

From one step success you can quickly get two, three and more steps without pulling if you stay focused and your dogs is focused as well. Bring out the big gun treats; chicken, liver, steak, ball or favorite fluffy toy. Your dog cannot keep her attention on you and pull out in front not paying attention at the sametime. So often the problem is simply a lack of guidance from an owner.

Once you can get a couple pull free steps you will need to achieve more steps and eventually be walking again. The rule should always be that a tight leash results in stoppage; once the dog offers a loose leash by backing up or coming back to you, you immediately praise and walk. Timing is everything; immediate stop and start upon pulling and slacking is essential. Also; talk to your dog when they are walking loosely. I carry on huge conversations; lots of happy talk and stop talking immediately if there is pulling. Treat along the way while your dog is not pulling. "See how great it is not to pull? You get treats for not pulling." Also use your obedience while on walks; don't create a mindless walk where the dog with an active mind seeks out his own entertainment. Do lots of sits and downs along the way as well.

Luke is my sled dog; always has been. Luke is also a reactive dog; which simply means that every emotion he has is bigger than life. His reaction to everything is very obvious and he becomes over stimulated easily; so when he is going for a walk, he is very excited. This can be very difficult to stop; but what you can do is to teach an excited dog to be more calm by example. Becoming stressed; flustered or excited fuels a reactive dog so you have to go over the top to be chill.

Never yank on a dog's neck to stop them from pulling. One it is very damaging to their neck and two; you pull the dog pulls back. It is a loosing scenario for all.

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