NYC dogs have to be leashed all the time when in public. It is therefore no surprise that one of the top complaints I hear from dog guardians is: S/he PULLS me down the street. Why is that?

Dogs have a natural instinct called: The opposition reflex. Give them something to lean against and they will. Humans have taken advantage of that trait by giving dogs jobs like pulling carts and sleds, or turning spits. However in the city in particular pulling is not just unpleasant it is not safe.

What can you do to stop pulling? 

1) Teach your dog not to pull.

2) Use a collar that discourages pulling.

3) BOTH!!!!

1)        Practice in a quiet low distraction environment with a regular flat collar and a 4ft or 6 ft lead. Stand next to your dog and hold the leash about midway and wait for you dog to lean against the lead. Don’t do anything and wait for dog to look at you: What’s going on? Why aren’t you letting me walk? At that very moment you praise the dog. YES!!! Or Click! In fact you reward every movement that is directed back toward you and not away from you.  Key to the exercise is NOT to allow the leash to remain tense. The more sustained resistance the dog feels the more you are encouraging the opposition reflex and the dog takes it as an invitation to pull even harder. Yanking and jerking are punishments and will not teach your dog how to avoid pulling. In fact the dog might think s/he is not pulling hard enough.

2)            Head halters such as http://www.gentleleader.com/ or the HALTI http://youtu.be/EyUrTP3XLp4 are great because they lead the dog from the front like a horse. A head collar is like having power steering for your dog, and they definitely have a calming effect as well. They are great teaching tools for adamant pullers. Most dogs acclimate well, but  remember: it is a training aid! Once your dog learns not to pull you can wean him off the head collar if you wish.

Another option is a front clip harness like the Sense-ation Harness available at http://www.softouchconcepts.com/. It also works on the principle that a dog responds better when guided from the front although, unlike the Halti, the Sense-ation Harness attaches in the chest area.

All of the above mentioned training collars are designed for use with a regular 6 ft leash and should under no circumstance be used in combination with a flexi leash. Injury could occur.

The absolute worst harness for a pulling dog is one where the leash attachment is in the back.. Think sled dog! Those harnesses were invented specifically to encourage the dog to lean even more into the chest piece.


Elisabeth Weiss is a highly certified, experienced dog trainer in Manhattan, NYC. To learn more about dog training services, contact us by phone at (917) 783-1473 or our contact form.

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