Nope! It might seem like an easy solution, but you could potentially damage your puppy or dog’s throat and there are kinder solutions to this age old problem.
I always like to think about why my dog is doing something – it helps me to appreciate the problem from their point of view. I guess they’re probably thinking something along the lines of “I wish she would stop pulling on my collar the way that she does, and just walk a bit faster so we get could get where we’re going quicker!”. 😉
Now most dogs are excited when they’re pulling on their leads, eager to get somewhere – the question to answer is how excited? In a state that they could easily be distracted by treats or a toy, or completely over the top, can hear you, can’t see you, just entirely focused on getting to where they want to go. Depending on their arousal/ excitement levels, I would suggest thinking about one of these options.
If you have a dog that can still think e.g. can take treats and is able to learn because they’re not out of control excited, then basic training principles come into play. First off starting with being specific about what your criteria or rules of the game are – here are mine:
- Walk on either my left or right hand side as directed (I like them to be on the side furthest away from the traffic if we’re walking along a road)
- Stay about a foot away from my leg – not too close (not obedience heel work), but not at the end of the length of the lead
- Feel free to look around you, you don’t need to look at me all the way
So in order to have the dog play by my criteria, here’s what I have to do:
- Heavily reinforce/ reward them with something they LOVE for being in the correct position – see my guide for inspiring training treats
- To start with, use a high rate of reinforcement – e.g. a steady supply of treats, not just one at the beginning and end of the road!
- Get organised – it’s easier to reward a dog with one treat at a time rather than holding all of the treats in the same hand.
- So loop the lead around the hand opposite your dog (let’s say the left hand), and put all of your treats in that hand too.
- Then encourage your dog into position by your right hand side, and reward them by tapping the leg before feeding. That will make them focus on being in that general area by your leg.
- Be patient and prepared to stop each time your dog moves out of position – this is not an exercise to practice when you’re in a hurry to get somewhere, such as picking up the children from school!
- Start small in a low distracting environment – around your coffee table or kitchen island. Build up to going out and about.
- Meanwhile you might use a harness or head collar in order to get out and about – see below 🙂
Additional Training Tools/ Management
I hope regular readers of my blog will have noticed the fact that I think dogs are pretty amazing animals – in case you didn’t, I think dogs are AWESOME!
They are incredibly good at recognising the differences in situations – so for example when my lead is clipped onto my harness, I may pull, but when my lead is clipped onto my collar I should observe loose lead walking etiquette. I know this is possible as I’ve met Guide Dogs for the Blind who are normal dogs out of their harness, but go into serious work mode when in their uniform. As I say, dogs are pretty smart. So if you’re in a rush, have a harness that you can clip your dog’s lead to rather than have to be in training mode.
In truth I would ideally have all dogs in some sort of a harness alongside wearing a collar for identification tag purposes – much nicer for them, and less likely to do damage to their sensitive neck area. I love the ones from the Dogs Games company – fleece lined for comfort, and extremely well fitting and therefore difficult for a dog to slip out of one. I dislike the ones where dogs have to step into them as they seem to be particularly badly fitting.
Other other alternative is getting some sort of a head collar for your dog. My favourite is from Dogmatic as they are very well made, provide a good fit, and are much stronger than some flimsier alternatives on the market. The lead attaches under your dog’s chin effectively giving you control of their head in a similar principle to a horse’s head collar – making is possible for even a very strong dog to be walked safely without having to have big muscles!