Another Approach to Correcting Leash Pulling
This article by Marcia Schlesinger is in response to our intial Leash Pulling article that Patty Mead wrote. It is great to have the conversation with our browsers continue and other options offered. You may contact Marcia at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a Vizsla and a Labrador Retriever with Utility Titles and another Vizsla "in training". Although they all have been taught precision heeling, they also had to be taught not to pull on the leash during casual walks. It is my belief that dogs pull on the leash only because they become engrossed in their own little world of sensory stimuli, such as sights, sounds and of course smells. At that point they have completely forgotten that you are on the other end of the leash. "Controlled Walking" is a technique that reminds the dog that the two of you are taking a walk together.
Controlled Walking is a very simple technique. It goes like this. Go to a park and put the dog on a 50 foot line. Hold the end of line and without saying a word, start walking. Let the dog sniff, run or walk anywhere that he wants to go. Eventually you will be 50 feet from your dog. At that point, change your direction so that the dog is jerked by the line. Continue this training session until the dog is corrected by the line several more times. Repeat the entire training session several more days until the dog begins to watch you and realize that the only safe place is around you. (This technique works really great with puppies.)
Now put the dog on a six foot leash. Give the dog a command to start walking, like "let's go" and DO NOT SAY ANOTHER WORD - REPEAT - DO NOT SAY ANOTHER WORD . Then start walking forward leaving slack in your six foot leash. The dog with the pulling problem will most likely make it to the end of the leash in record time. However just as the dog reaches the end of the leash, you make an about face and quickly start walking in the opposite direction. Since the dog is connected to the leash, he is pulled in the opposite direction. Again the dog forges forward and again you make a 180 degree about face. You continue changing direction every time that the dog appproaches the end of the leash. Dogs do not like to change directions abuptly. Eventually the dog will figure it out that the only way to avoid these abrupt direction changes is to stay close to you and watch where you go. In other words, the dog has learned that you are on the end of the leash.
At first your walks will go absolutely nowhere. Eventually, you may just have to reinforce this Controlled Walking only at the beginning and perhaps somewhere during your walk. This method works because the dog learns that the only place that is safe and comfortable is at your side. This is also a great warm up technique for starting formal obedience training sessions because the dog has to focus on and watch your every move.