Lots of dogs pull on their leash. It’s a super common problem for dog parents and can cause a great deal of frustration.
If you have a little dog you might be tempted to let your dog get away with it, but a big dog can often pull you over if you don’t stay in control. That’s why it’s critical to train big dogs so that they have good leash manners.
Several methods can help you train a big dog not to pull on a leash – including devices that are supposed to help keep the dog from pulling. We prefer training your dog rather than using these types of “no pull” devices.
Training is a better long-term solution and will help your dog behave better with other dogs and people as well.
How to train a big dog to walk on a leash
Our favorite training methods are always ones that are gentle, but firm. This particular method of training works well for big dogs.
Here are 7 easy steps to help you to train your big dog not to pull on a leash.
Use the right type of leash
This is a small thing, but it’s important. You don’t want to use one of the popular extendable leashes when you are leash training your big dog not to pull on a leash. There is too much slack in these leashes to effectively train your dog.
Dogs need quick reinforcement of behavior to learn proper manners and a leash that extends doesn’t give them the quick reinforcement that they need.
Instead of an extendable leash, use a regular leash and harness or a leash that is attached to the dog’s collar. You want the leash to be long enough that there is slack if your dog is walking beside you, but short enough that if they start to wander away from you, they come to the end of their leash quickly.
Check out Latest Dog Training for more detailed information about leash types and training.
Keep very still and very quiet
In order to successfully train any dog, it’s important to master your own emotions. If you are agitated, then your dog will get agitated as well. If you are calm and deliberate then your training will go much better and be accomplished more quickly.
Put your big dog on its leash and then stand very quiet and very still. If your dog is ignoring you or pulling, then continue to not give them any attention at all.
As soon as your dog looks up at you and gives you their attention then praise your dog and give them a small training treat.
Reward walking on a loose lead
When you give your dog the treat for giving you their attention, you can start walking. Talk to your dog in an encouraging manner and give them frequent treats for as long as they are staying close to you and walking with a loose leash.
Rewarding your dog frequently for the behavior you want is the key to getting your big dog to walk nicely on the leash.
Keep very still and very quiet (phase 2)
As you’re training your dog, your dog will start to move away from you. It’s completely normal and it takes time to train a big dog not to pull at a leash.
You must remain in control when this happens.
Try to catch the behavior before pulling occurs and then stop walking immediately. Stand very still and very quiet again until your dog gives you, their attention.
This pattern will happen frequently as your dog learns to stop pulling and walk on a loose leash. It’s extremely important that every single time your dog walks away from you that you stop and stand very still and very quietly until your dog gives you their full attention again.
Practice, practice, practice
As you begin this training, you will want to keep sessions short and practice frequently. You can practice several times a day.
Some dogs learn more quickly than others, but with enough patience, nearly every dog can learn to walk on a leash calmly and not pull you along.
Keep practicing until your dog is consistently walking on a loose leash.
If they start to slip up and go back to pulling start again at step 1 and keep up the training.
Tips for distractions
It’s easy for your dog to start pulling again when they get distracted. You must train for this scenario for it to be less of a problem.
Put a toy or bone on the floor while your dog is on their lead. Then walk them past the toy and when they start to move away from you, stop and call them to you. Once they come to you then let them go to the toy, but only if they stay on a loose leash.
The goal here is to teach your dog that pulling toward the distraction will only slow them down.
Training a dog can be a lengthy process and sometimes it can be frustrating. It’s important to keep the training encouraging and rewarding for your dog. If you stay in control of your emotions and encourage your dog every single time they do something right then you will start to get the behaviors that you are looking for from your dog.
The bottom line on how to train a big dog not to pull on a leash.
When you are leash training a big dog, the most important thing you can do is be consistent. Every single time your dog starts to wander away from you it’s time to stop and stay calm and still until they give you their complete attention.
Then you give them a treat.
This method requires practice and patience, but it’s very effective.