Great Leash Training Tips to Stop a Golden Retriever Puppy from Pulling on the Leash

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: July 10, 2017

Sunshine is a seven-month-old, Golden Retriever puppy who lives in Gretna. Her guardians set up a dog obedience training session with us for leash training to help Sunshine stop pulling on the leash, as well as counterconditioning with the cats and basic dog obedience training.

When I arrived at the house, Sunshine was sleeping in the living room and did not come to greet me until her name was called. Once she came over to me, she started to jump up but quickly settled back down. You can see how Sunshine’s greeting went in the video below.

I sat down with the guardians to discuss Sunshine’s unwanted behaviors and what puppy training they wanted to accomplish during this puppy training session. While Sunshine did have some rules in place, I noticed that the guardians had a habit of repeating commands when Sunshine didn’t listen right away. The more times you use a command the less likely your dog is to listen. As a dog behaviorist I have learned that desensitization is a bad habit many dog guardians pick up unintentionally. Repeating a word or command that your dog is not responding to you is almost a textbook definition of desensitization.

One of the issues that the guardians wanted help with was Sunshine’s inconsistent eating habit. Many people are unaware that eating is a very primal activity for dogs; simply adding a little bit of structure to the eating ritual is an easy way to build up the dog’s respect for the humans as the authority figures. Dogs eat in the order of their rank, so simply by having the guardians eat before them it helps the dog develop self control and see the humans as having more rank or authority.

Like all dogs, Sunshine needs plenty of exercise. However, when Sunshine pulls on the leash it doesn’t make the walk enjoyable for her guardians or the dog. The guardians had used a retractable leash, which allows Sunshine a lot of freedom. But if you have a dog that is not well behaved on the leash this additional amount of freedom can contribute to the problem. If your child is not the best driver, you wouldn’t to give it more unsupervised driving privileges; you would go back to basics and have the child practice more in a structured environment to build up the skills necessary to be a good driver. This same principal applies to your dog walking on the leash.

I introduced a martingale collar with a straight leash to do some leash training with Sunshine. You can see pick up some free dog training tips to get your dog to stop pulling on the leash in the video below.

As you can see in the video, Sunshine needed some initial corrections to help her learn how to be successful at loose leash walking. The goal of this exercise is to have Sunshine comfortably walking next to her guardian without pulling on the leash. We call this a structured walk.

A dog training tip for high energy dogs; take them out with a ten minute game of fetch in your backyard before your walk.  This lets you help your dog burn off excess energy, which puts them in a position to succeed and makes it easy for them to pay attention to you when you are on the walk. Just make sure to give your dog a ten minute recovery period inside before you go on your walk.

During the session we discussed a number of positive dog training methods, such as always using treats to reward your dog for good behavior. For many dogs, including Sunshine, food is a strong motivator and is a great way to accomplish new skills and reward good dog behavior.

By the end of the session, Sunshine had stopped pulling on the leash, started listening to her guardian’s commands and respected the area around the doorway. By adding structured feeding, plenty of exercise, Petting with a Purpose and prating the other techniques we covered during the session Sunshine can continue her good behavior.

We wrapped up this session with Sunshine’s Roadmap to Success video, which you can watch below.

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This post was written by: Sam Kanouse

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