Preparing for the Walk
Pulling on the leash can begin as soon as your dog sees the leash and knows it is time for a walk. If the walk begins out of control, the mood is set for the entire walk.
Putting on the Leash
Before expecting your dog to walk calmly on the leash, train it to be calm when putting on the collar and leash. Put the collar on your dog while it is focusing on other things. Play with your dog with its collar on so your dog focuses on you instead of the collar. Practice training during this time as well. Put it on when feeding your dog. Put on the leash and let your dog drag it around. Play fetch with your dog during this time or let your dog play with another dog. Associate positive things with the collar and leash. This will take time so patience is important.
Starting Your Walk
Put your dog in a sit-stay while attaching the leash. If your dog breaks the stay, the walk is delayed until your dog stays. Whatever you do, don’t give in or your dog will learn that it is okay to be out of control. You will need a lot of patience for this exercise. Most dogs will learn quickly that they must sit nicely while their leash is being attached to their collar. They may explode into frenzy as soon as this phase is accomplished. Hold onto the leash, stand still and let your dog dance at the end of the leash. It may take 5 minutes or more, but he will soon realize that you are not going anywhere and will begin to calm down.
Walking on the Leash
After your dog is sitting calmly on the leash, take your first step, but NOT towards the door. Walk around the house, garage or yard to give your dog a chance to practice “not pulling” skills. Walk your dog in figure 8’s or zig zag. Change directions often. Every time your dog lunges or strains on the leash stand still or have your dog sit to calm him down. When your dog calms down, talk to it and praise calmly. Have your dog look at you instead of the door that leads outside. When you feel your dog is under control and walking nicely, then it is time to proceed to the great outdoors.
Every time your dog pulls on the leash and you continue to walk, you are rewarding for pulling. Every time your dog is out of control, it is essential that you instantly stop the walk by standing still and asking for a sit. When you are ready to start your walk again say something to your dog to let them know to continue the walk, but stay with you. I use “Let’s Go” or “With Me” This will take a tremendous amount of patience on your part, but it will pay off in the long run. Don’t expect to get very far at first. Teach your dog the “Watch Me” command. This will be beneficial when your dog sees another person, dog, cat, etc and gets really excited. You should be able to get your dog focused on you and not the distraction.