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Leash Pulling: How to prevent it
Angela Maupin
Certified Dog Trainer, Author.


One of the most common behavior problems that people have with their puppies is pulling on the leash. It is much easier to prevent the problem than to have to correct it once it has become a habit. There are several training methods you can use to teach your puppy the right way to walk on a leash. Putting on a collar & leash

Slack leash method

A regular buckle collar and a six foot leash are required for this training. The first step to teaching loose leash walking is to keep in mind that leaving the house on a leash is a reward. Secondly, remember that if you continue to walk while your puppy is pulling, you are, in fact, teaching your dog to "Mush."

Walking on a loose leashFirst, put the collar and leash on the puppy and stand in one place. Give your puppy enough leash so he can walk about four feet from you. Reward your puppy every time the leash goes slack. This method is best when teamed with a reward marker, like "yes" or a clicker.

When you are ready to begin walking say "let's go" and take a few steps. Chances are good that your puppy will begin to pull immediately, so plant your feet and stop walking. Wait for the leash to go slack, give a food reward and try walking again.

Puppy pulling on leash
Try not to yank or "check" the leash, which is a natural response. If it is difficult for you to stop "checking," put your leash hand in your pocket. You should also try to be very vocal with your puppy. Puppies have a very short attention span, and talking in a high pitched voice will help your puppy keep his attention on you.

Donkey and carrot method

Donkey & Carrot MethodA second method of teaching your puppy not to pull is what I call the "carrot in front of the donkey" technique. Start walking while holding a treat in one hand right in front of your puppy's nose. If you have a small puppy you can accomplish this by taping a spoonful of peanut butter to a dowel or yardstick and dip the spoon down to allow your pup to take a lick now and then. Make sure to reward your puppy every few feet for staying with you. Try taking a single ration of kibble with you on the walk to measure how well your pup is doing. If you run out before the walk is over, then you know you have to keep trying. If you find that you have food left over you know that you are well on your way, and can give the rest of the meal as a real live reward.

Puppy walking on a loose lease succesfully With either method, do not attempt the training if your puppy has not had a chance to burn off the energy he has from being crated for several hours. Have playtime first, and then walk when the puppy is a little more mellow. Do not get the puppy too tired though, or he may not be very attentive.

When you can walk your puppy and hold the leash and a glass of water in the same hand you have mastered loose leash walking!


� 2001 Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.
Reprinted as a courtesy and with permission from
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