The title says it all.

My foster dog Lana is a strong leash puller. I’d love to train her not to pull, but what she needs more than anything is lots of exercise.

I’m wondering if any of you have some advice on how to balance the two (leash training + providing adequate exercise).

A little more info on us:

Lana is around 10 months old, and I’ve been fostering her for two weeks. She is a medium-sized dog, about 40 pounds, and her breed mix is anyone’s guess.

We do not have a yard or an off-leash area I can safely take her for exercise. She can’t go to a dog park yet. So, all her exercise is through walking and running on a leash with me, and she’s usually pulling.

Stop a dog's pulling when she needs lots of exercise

We go out for a minimum of an hour a day for combined walking and running. Usually 30 to 45  minutes in the morning and another 30 to 45 in the evening. Around 4 miles total, which really isn’t enough.

I’ve been walking/running with her using a Gentle Leader (that fits around her face). I basically force her to stay at a heel position. Whenever we’re walking, she pulls. When we’re running, she trots nicely at my side.

A common tip: Stop moving forward if your dog pulls

When teaching a dog to stop pulling on the leash, a popular tip is to stop moving whenever the dog pulls. (Here’s a great post about this method from Lola the Pitty.)

The goal is to teach the dog you’re not going anywhere unless the leash is loose. It’s effective, but it requires a lot of time and patience.

While following this method, if the dog pulls, you stop and wait for a loose leash, which can take awhile. Then you take a few steps forward. If the dog pulls, you stop again and wait for a loose leash … repeat, repeat …

This is great, but what do you do if your young, slightly psycho dog, truly needs to run, run, run?

How do I train my dog not to pull while also providing enough exercise?

I don’t know, but here’s what I’m thinking I’ll try:

I’ll continue using the Gentle Leader when we’re not focused on training. This at least minimizes the pulling. A no-pull harness would be another good option.

Then, when we’re specifically working on leash training, I’ll clip the leash to a collar around her neck like a martingale collar or a prong collar. These training sessions will be short, just 5 to 10 minutes at first.

Most of our leash training may need to be in my apartment at first, and then in “boring” areas like a parking lot.

I tried searching for any blog posts or articles addressing this issue of exercise + leash training, and no one seemed to address the two together. The closest thing I could find was Patricia McConnell’s wonderful post on making leash manners fun. She suggests using whatever tool you need to at least manage the pulling for the time being.

What do the rest of you think? We could use some help!

What are your ideas for training a dog not to pull while also providing exercise?

Related blog posts:

Gentle Leader vs. prong collar

Should I teach my dog to heel?

Tips for teaching your dog to heel

*Lana is up for adoption with Labs & More Rescue in San Diego. Here name on the web site is “Robin.”

 

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