Dogs pull on the leash for a lot of different reasons. Luckily, there are easy and humane tools to help us manage leash pulling until your dog understands what you want him to do.
Why does my dog pull? Like I said, dogs pull for a variety of reasons but none of them include controlling you.
- To smell just up ahead
- To get to the dog park, car, other dog, person FASTER!
- It’s in his nature – sled dogs
- To chase something
- Because you’re pulling back on him – if you pull back on your dog you’ll lift his front paws up off the ground, even slightly, this causes him to lean forward to balance himself out. You’ll see this when guardians “choke up” on their leashes to pass a person, another dog, or biker.
- Because he is worried – This usually looks like your dog wants to be everywhere all at the same time.
- To scare another dog/person away – usually accompanied with barking and growling. Please seek professional help for these behaviors. Pulling on the leash is not your primary problem.
All of the above reasons are great reasons to pull. The dog doesn’t know any better until you teach him what you want him to do. Unfortunately, there are less than lovely tools advertized to aid in our quest for a dog that doesn’t pull. These tools not only don’t work all that well but can cause some serious behavioral problems down the road. So unless you want to be reliant on a dangerous management tool for the rest of your life and have an aggressive dog (pay attention to #12!), don’t use choke chains, pinch collars or shock collars. However, this full discussion is not for today!
Humane and Effective Tools:
Front Clip Harnesses
- Pros: Quick to fit your dog with a harness/little adjustment time, lots of options, effective at dissuading a dog from pulling, depending on the harness easy to adjust straps, no risk of injury to neck.
- Cons: Some dogs continue to pull, dogs can back out of the harnesses (Freedom Harness can tighten up to prevent this), may obstruct shoulder movement (Walk-n-Sync does not).
- Freedom Harness
- Sensation Harness
- Easy Walk Harness
- Walk-n-Sync Harness
- Pros: VERY effective for stopping pulling, easy to fit, halti has safety clip to prevent escapees
- Cons: Difficult for dogs to adjust to wearing them so they require some training, can slip out of gentle leader, can injure neck if dog or handler jerks on the leash.
- Gentle Leader
- Snoot Loop – has a size for short nosed dogs
Management Tool Exercise:
If your dog pulls on leash, today you’re going to decide which tool you’ll use to manage his pulling. Will you pick a harness or a head halter? Which brand will you go with? Post your choices in the comments below!
If you choose to go with the head halter, use this video by Jean Donaldson to show you how to teach your dog to wear it. Please, do not expect to bring a halter home and throw it on your dog right away. He will need your help getting used to wearing it!
So while there are a lot of reasons for your dog to pull on leash, the first step to fixing this problem is managing it. Tomorrow I’ll talk about ways you can teach your dog to walk politely on a leash. Stay Tuned!