Teaching a Pair of Dogs to Stop Pulling on the Leash

By: Becca Crowley

Published Date: February 26, 2020

For this LA dog training session, we were called in to help two very nervous 7 year-old mixed breed sibling dogs, Belle and Jasmine, teaching them to stop pulling or lunging on the leash.

These dogs were in rough shape. They were so worried and worked up they couldn’t take a treat. When you have dogs who are anxious and scared you first have to address those behavior issues. Otherwise nothing you try to do will work.

While both dogs were anxious, Belle was in much worse shape. She would hide under the table or chair or run away any chance she got. She only took treats after I was there for a few hours, and I have amazing treats. This was a classic illustration of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the dog’s blood.

One of the reasons for this is Jasmine’s habit of dominating Belle. During the session, she positioned herself between grandma and Belle to keep all Grandma’s attention for herself. I think there was other bossing / dominating or dressing down from Jasmine that had been going on for years. The result was Belle having low self esteem, withdrawing and shutting down. It was sad to see and invigorated me to work as hard as I could to help. My normal 3 hour session stretched to 5 hours and I was sorry I couldn’t stay longer to help this sweet girl.

To help with this, I showed the guardians how to disagree with Jasmine’s blocking and also went over ways to help build up their confidence by rewarding desired behaviors though passive training.

I also went over my Petting with a Purpose method as Jasmine had gotten into a habit of telling Grandma when to pet her or get attention. By teaching the dog to sit or lay down to ask for attention, the humans can help her adopt more of a follower’s outlook. This will also increase her self esteem and confidence, two things both need badly.

It will help tremendously to teach the dogs some new tricks and commands. Just like humans, dogs have confidence and self esteem, or they can. Both qualities was so low for these dogs … perhaps the lowest of any dogs I have worked with.

Id recommend the guardians use a clicker to do some basic training. This video explains how to do this as well as how to prime the clicker.

Because of how anxious these dogs are, Id advise them to start out with 2 people. One person with one dog in one room with the treats and another person outside the room or at the far side of the room. Im concerned the sound of the clicker may startle or scare these dogs. If necessary, they can hold a pillow or blanket over the hand with the clicker (along with being on the far side of the room) when they first start to prime the clicker. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. If the dogs fear the sound of the clicker, they will need a lot more work.

At first, they should prime the clicker at a distance. Only when they dogs are gobbling up the treats right away and not reacting with jumps or twitches to the click should they start to move the clicker closer or remove the blanket. Its CRUCIAL they move slowly at this stage and practice with the dogs apart until they can click with the dog right there and without muffling it and the dogs are happy and lick up the treats right away.

Id like to see the guardians spend 1-2 days priming the clicker (15-25 treats, 5 or more times a day – per dog) before any training. The dogs should not shake, shudder or recall when they hear the click before any training is done.

Once the clicker training is done, the guardians can ask for a sit, click when the dogs butt hits the sound, then give a treat and say “sit.” Then ask for a down, click when the chest is on the floor, then treat and say the word “down,” or “crash.” Using fun words will help a lot as dogs can read human expressions. If you say “crash” and a dog lays down, and people smile, that motivates the dogs to want to do that action again.

They can click when the dog’s come, lay down, sit, drop things, touch their hand and many other things. A simple YouTube search for basic dog training will reveal hundred or thousands of free dog training videos. Id LOVE to see the humans commit to teaching the dogs one new trick or command a week for 2 months. This will help is SOOOO many ways; increasing confidence, building respect for the humans and giving them things to do that make us happy or contribute to their pack.

It will also be important for the guardians to introduce and enforce some rules to help the dogs see them act like the leaders. This will also help them practice a little self restraint which is the start of developing self control.

Developing self control and restraint was one of the things I knew we needed to accomplish in this session. They have a habit of pulling or knocking into people when excited, like when the door was opened. I explained how to train the dogs to wait for permission to exit an open door. This video details how to accomplish that.

Next we headed outside so I could share tips to stop a dog from pulling on the leash. These dogs pull on the leash like crazy, so teaching the dogs to walk with a loose leash will help the humans and dogs equally. You can learn how I stop dogs from pulling when on walks by watching the free positive dog training video below.

This secret to stopping dogs from lunging on the leash is as easy as it is effective. After only practicing this technique to stop leash pulling, one of the guardians had Jasmine walking with a loose leash. It was only in spurts, but I was very invigorated to see the dog walking without pulling on the leash and I think the guardians were as well.

Id like the guardians to practice this loose leash walking exercise every day with both dogs and to take the online class I reference in the first loose leash walking video. If they commit to at least one walk a day with each dog, Im betting the pulling on the leash will stop for good.

Dogs experience the world through their noses, or they are supposed to. Not Belle and Jasmine, they are looking and darting their attention due to being anxious. Regular walks, where they can sniff and learn to slow down and explore will do wonders for them.

Although this write up training video details the loose leash walking, there were more serious issues at hand. Fortunately the guardians recognized this and were open and eager to learn new positive dog Training techniques to help the dogs live happier and healthier lives. I asked the guardians to follow up frequently if they have any questions or issues moving forward. I was very grateful to have been called in to help in this case and want to be there when needed.

To help the humans remember everything we covered in this in home LA dog training session, we recorded a roadmap to success video that you can watch below.

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This post was written by: Becca Crowley

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