Ask Inger Martens
Q:My Rottie, Hayley, pulls and pulls and pulls on walks. How can I put an end to this supremely irritating behaviour? Please help make walk-time fun again! —Long-arm Lass from Laredo
A:This is a really common problem and VERY annoying habit for many dog owners. Often owners feel like they’re water skiing on the end of the leash! Well, making your daily walks fun again is easier than you think, and it starts with you. Whether you own a Rottie like Hayley or a wild Weimaraner, you can begin to solve this problem by recognizing your use of trigger words or phrases, like “Do you wanna go on a walk?” This dog owner habit usually begins during puppyhood and tends to create chaos and craziness before walks.
The trick is to put your dog’s leash on silently, using NO trigger words. Then, instead of going on a walk, guide your dog around the house on leash for a few minutes. Pay some bills or read a magazine and as you do these daily activities, redirect your dog to sit, while on leash. This exercise will break up the pre-walk pattern of excitement that is associated with a leash. Another tip is to teach your dog to go potty on command. This will alleviate the frantic need to pull and sniff on walks. For real ball-o-holics, you can use a game of turbo fetch to your advantage prior to a walk. This will help get your dog’s ya-ya’s out in order to make walks more pleasant.
Lastly, walk your dog like you drive your car. As the driver, you are the one in control! Since dogs are pack animals, they love playing follow the leader. Therefore, if your dog pulls, you should keep the leash loose, pivot in the opposite direction and with a happy voice say, “let’s go” or “heel.” Stop occasionally and gently lift up on the leash as you say, “sit;” this breaks up the pattern of being pulled. Doing so also creates eye contact and makes it fun. Enjoy!