Dog Walking- Why Does My Dog Pull Me?

Who's walking who here?

Oh, if I had a dollar for every time a dog owner asked me that question!  The reason your dog pulls you is… you LET them.  Simple.  You grab your precious pup, hook on the leash and away you go.  Flying down the street like a madman trying to keep up with your dog and hoping it looks like you are somehow in control.  Not likely.

Control is the key here and if you have not taken your pup to obedience training, then you should at least do some reading to find out about the walk.  I have to say, there is no greater joy than walking with your dog.  The key phrase here is “walking with your dog”.  Your pup will go where ever it wants as long as you allow it to.  I know that the cute pup is too adorable for you to even consider restraining it, what with puppy enthusiasm and all,but consider the future consequences.  Teach your pup early what you expect it to do on your walks.  The first step is choosing a collar.  The collar, or restraint, used when walking may be different from what your pup wears all the time.  I have clients that I walk using a harness while the collar stays in place.  I also have dogs that wear choke or pinch collars on their walks in place of their everyday collars.  It all depends on the dog and the level of control you need during your walks.

If a dog has learned that it can pull it’s owner around on it’s walks, I usually want to intervene with a restraint that will let the dog know that I am in control.  I would begin with a choke collar.  This is the chain link collar with rings at each end.  The chain is slipped through one ring and forms a circle that is loosened or tightened by a quick snap of the leash- also known as a “correction”.  Many people think a choke collar is meant to actually choke the dog, not true.  The action of quickly snapping the leash to bring in the excess chain and tighten the hold on the dog causes a sound that the dog learns is the correction.  When walking your dog, be sure that you are always working with some slack in the leash.  This makes a correction very simple.  As you walk; your dog should walk at your side, not out in front of you.  When the dog starts to lead you, you quickly drop the slack, turn around and head off in the opposite direction.  This will cause the choke to zip through the ring making a startling sound and the dog will be forced to turn and follow you.  You may have to repeat this maneuver several times before your dog figures out that you are leading and he/she is to follow you.  There are certain breeds that need a greater restraint when on a walk.  My first dog was a Chow.  She was beautiful and headstrong, both characteristics of the breed.  Chows have thick fur at the neckline and fewer nerve endings in the skin of the neck because they were initially bred as protectors.  If they were to be engaged in a fight, the extra fur and less sensitive skin worked to protect them.  It also means that a correction may need to be a bit firmer in order for the dog to recognize it.  I used a pinch collar in obedience training with my chow.  The pinch collar is cousin to the choke with the addition of prongs to the inside of the collar.  The correction is made in the same manner as a choke, a drop of the leash slack and abrupt change of direction to engage the prongs and get your dog’s attention.

Walking with your dog should be fun and you can make that happen by employing some simple training tips and using the right equipment.  For a tutorial on choke and pinch collar use, click below!