There are many reasons why dogs pull, two of which I talked about in a recent video on my Facebook page. If you missed that video, check it out here.
Let's face it. Dogs pull primarily as a learned behavior. At some point in the dogs life, he/she was at the end of the leash and forward movement occurred and continue to occur and POOF! A new behavior was born!
This unwanted behavior is annoying, frustrating and can be dangerous as many dogs are strong enough to cause us to trip and fall. Either we get hurt and/or the dog gets loose as we inevitably end up loosening our grip on the leash to help prevent our face hitting the ground. Not to mention the pressure of the collar on the neck or the restrictive movement a harness can cause.
Yes, there are harnesses out there that prevent pulling but has the dog actually made the decision not to pull and stay by your side, or is it the equipment that has brought about this behavior? When performing a behavior, I want the dog to understand what the behavior is and how to perform it because he/she is choosing to, not because a piece of equipment is forcing the behavior. Not to mention the physical dangers and imbalances that can occur in our dogs' body from many restrictive / no pull harnesses.
As I talked about in the initial video above, teaching dogs what the rewardable position is the beginning step in teaching loose leash walking. Of course, we start this off leash, in a low distraction area and, when your dog is really hungry! So meal time is a GREAT time to work on this!
You might be wondering what is the "rewardable position"? In simple terms, it is when your dog is sitting by your left side with both of you facing the same direction - the heel position, or in competitive sports, the basic position. You can teach it on the right as well, the key is to be consistent! When we teach our dogs that staying in the "rewardable position" pays really well, they begin to learn that there is no reason to leave that position and ultimately, pulling is no longer fun - because there is no value away from you!
Don't worry, there is light at the end of the tunnel! It does require some extra work on our part, and some patience, but in the end it is worth it! Envision your dog waking politely by your side as you both happily enjoy your daily strolls!
Click on the video below for the beginning step in teaching the all important, rewardable position an begin your journey to achieving loose leash walking!
P.S. No need to adjust the video; my upper half is intentionally cut off so you can focus on the the dog and the position!