One of the most common queries I have received when talking to dog owners is "How do I stop my dog from pulling me on a walk?"
I have found with our canine friends that a good step in dealing with any behavioural issue is to understand why it is happening before trying to solve the problem.
The number one reason why your dog is pulling is less technical than many owners realise. If we replace 'He/she is difficult to walk!' with 'He/she is excited and full of pent up energy', then the answer may become more apparent. Stick with me on this one.......
When we walk our dogs we are giving them exercise at our pace. Our pace may suit the little dog or more senior dog but with a significant amount of dogs is simply not enough. Add to that the pure excitement of getting outside into a world full of sights and smells that dogs love and you have the ingredients for a lively encounter!
Simply put, walking on a lead is not exercise for all dogs all of the time. Walking for all dogs is great for their mental well-being. So what do we do about the majority of the more lively hounds that really aren't misbehaving but are simply more excited or under-exercised.
Having given you the reason why some of our four-legged friends pull the answer lies with the dog and the owner.
Some dogs will pull less on a walk if they are exercised pre-walk. Maybe throw a stick in the garden/yard and potentially feel the benefits of a dog that is calmer, less pent-up and more amenable to walking at our pace.
Some dogs show improvement with a little impulse control training. Teaching a dog to perform functions such as sit and wait are great ways to give a dog a little self control and this method is often used on dogs that run and jump at visitors or at the sound of a doorbell.
My preferred method when I ran a dog-walking business when dealing with a livelier dog was to use a comfortable dog-friendly training collar. There are some great training collars out there that are very well designed, kind to dogs and extremely effective in encouraging a dog to walk well on a lead.
In the majority of cases my advice to owners with a dog that pulls is to first understand the reason he/she is pulling and use a comfortable and well-constructed training collar to overcome the walking difficulties. This may be all an owner needs to do and if not a little impulse control training and pre-walk exercise can be added to aid the walking routine.
A little understanding of and working with 'mans best friend' helps both owner and dog and promotes the view that I've always held...there are less 'difficult' dogs than some people believe but sadly more misunderstood ones.
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