If you’ve read any of my posts about my weimaraner puppy Remy, then you know he’s a bit rambunctious and pulls on the leash HARD.
Well, I told my email subscribers I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough lately with him and wanted to let you know what’s worked well for us.
How to stop your dog from pulling on the leash
1. Find a collar that makes the pulling less extreme.
It truly doesn’t matter which training collar you prefer.
I recommend trying a few options and using the one that gives you control without hurting your dog.
Tools that can minimize pulling:
Remy is a hard puller and what I’ve been using lately for him is a Gentle Leader and a martingale collar. I clip the same leash to both, and that seems to keep the GL from sliding into his eyes when he pulls (somewhat).
I also recommend a six-foot leash. My favorite leash by far is the dual handle leash from Mighty Paw because the material is so easy to grip. It is an affordable price, just $16 or so.
2. Use highly motivating treats!
To stop your dog from pulling when you’re outside, you’ll need some extremely motivating treats.
Indoors, dogs are less picky because there’s fewer distractions.
Outside, I use bits of deli meat, bits of cheese, soft treats and sometimes pieces of chicken. I mix it all together in a treat pouch and add in some dry dog food.
Total, I use about a cup of goodies per walk. Obviously, you might need to cut back on your dog’s meals if you do this.
3. Wear a treat pouch around your waist.
At the very minimum, carry a TON of treats in your pockets.
Once you start heading out for training walks, you’re going to need to carry about a cup’s worth of small treats. That probably won’t fit in your pockets easily.
A treat pouch fits around your waist (yep, like a fanny pack!) so you have quick access to treats. I walk with Remy and give him treat-treat-treat for walking at my side.
I reward him for looking at me, walking at my side and not pulling. I also use treats to lure him back when he pulls or gets ahead. I simply stop and wait for him to return to or I lure him back.
Here is the treat pouch I’m using from Mighty Paw:
I like that it opens with a hinge so it stays propped open if I’d like and also snaps shut quickly if needed. No zippers or snaps to worry about. I can fit my whole hand in the pouch so treats are easily accessible at all times.
4. Practice indoors a lot.
This is what really helped Remy. We worked in the living room for five minutes a day and it really clicked for him on the third day.
I used a leash at first and simply popped treats into his mouth for being at my left side or making eye contact. I walked along the wall so he had few options of where to go and lured him where I wanted him to be (my left side).
I would stop and have him sit, give a treat. Then take a step forward, have him sit, give a treat. Then two steps, etc. He really caught on quickly.
Practicing indoors is what made a huge difference for us because Remy seemed to finally “get” what I wanted and with no distractions it was easy for us to succeed.
Practice in every room of the house, the basement, the garage, perhaps the back yard or the driveway. I like to practice in quiet, open parking lots like church parking lots on weekday mornings.
5. Practice on walks.
Of course, outdoors is the challenging part.
Our obedience instructor actually told me not to walk Remy for now if he’s going to pull. She said to stick to really boring walks up and down the driveway or in circles in the yard or perhaps down the street at quiet times.
If you want to stop your dog’s pulling you need to remove his opportunity to pull. Practicing indoors makes sense until he gets the hang of it. Then move on to “boring” outdoor areas before adding more exciting outdoor areas.
However, in the real world, I need to be able to walk my 8-month-old weimaraner for exercise purposes and potty breaks. I live in an apartment, so a leash is his only access to the outdoors.
So … I am not perfect.
Sometimes I just need to get my puppy out for a quick potty break and he pulls. This sets our training back. Sometimes I just want to be “normal” and check out from training … and he pulls. Like, really bad. This sets our training back.
I’ve debated using a specific collar for our training walks and a different collar or harness for our “checked out” walks, but I haven’t been consistent.
6. Take a short break every 5 minutes during walks.
This is really important.
On your walks, ask your dog to heel for 5 minutes or so, and then use your release word – “Free!” or “Break!” – to let him sniff or play or walk ahead for at least 30 seconds (but stop moving if he pulls).
There are a few reasons for this:
- Dogs have short attention spans
- This helps remind you to take breaks and keep this fun!
- Heel is very, very difficult for them
- It helps if they understand “heel” means “heel until I release you.”
So, try rotating between focused heeling for 5 minutes, quick break, heeling for 5 minutes, quick break.
Other tips that can help:
- Walk in zig-zags or figure-8s. Turn around a lot.
- Work on random obedience or obstacles.
- Pick up the pace, jog a little, run.
- Sign up for a basic obedience class.
- Try different types of treats!
For more tips on teaching your dog not to pull, see my ebook: “Ultimate Guide: How to Stop My Dog From Pulling.”
Other helpful articles:
13 tips for teaching heel (That Mutt)
How to teach loose-leash walking (Dr. Patricia McConnell)
Loose-leash walking (Lola the Pitty)