If your dog pulls on the leash, something is wrong with your communication with the animal. We explain the reasons for their behavior and how to avoid those jerks that also have physical and emotional consequences for your pet.

Dog Training

When a dog pulls on the leash during walks, something fails in our communication with the animal. Far from using the leash as a tool to control the dog’s impulses, and much less as a punishment for its actions by returning those jerks, we must analyze what may be happening: Does the dog understand what its area of ​​activity is? 

Do you know how to regulate your emotions? Do you understand that you should walk with us? If “no” answers these questions, it alerts us that we need help from a professional educator.

We spoke with two canine educators about why a dog pulls on the leash and possible solutions to this problem.

Why does our dog pull on the leash?

One of the most common complaints among those who share their daily lives with a dog is that their companion is pulling on the leash. Situations normal, not normal, when you have educated the animal from puppyhood in waiting, free of stress and tension. The reasons why our dog pulls on the leash can be multiple:

Numerous involuntary factors can cause this desire to get out of that zone of autonomy, as a consequence of poor emotional management (fear, stress, anxiety, excitement): “sometimes, your emotional state does not allow you to evaluate that you are not it can access what is outside its circle of autonomy.”

Marco Moretti, canine educator and founder of Pelutopia, summarizes the typical situations that lead the dog to leave that comfort zone in four: “the dog pulls to get to something that interests him, such as a smell, the park, or communicating with another dog; to flee from a situation that causes them to fear, out of frustration or, simply, because by pulling on the leash they get what they want, and by doing so they reinforce their pulling on the leash behavior; and a behavior that is reinforced is more likely to be repeated.”

Why teach your dog not to pull on the leash?

According to Gonzalo Trigo, the problem is not in itself “pulling on the leash,” but instead that the dog is not clear about that circle of autonomy that the educator previously spoke about: “the leash should not be a control tool of impulses, that is to say, it should not be a tool so that it ‘does not reach’ the sites, but it should be a tool that connects us with our dog in case it needs help.”

When we ask the educator to indicate why we should teach him not to pull, he explains that, fundamentally, “for the animal to be comfortable, and for us to be comfortable too, without generating frustration for either party during the walks. but, on the contrary, well-being”.

For his part, Moretti shares that need to generate well-being on walks – “a quality walk needs to be pleasant and relaxing for both the dog and the caregiver” – and adds that it is essential that we teach the dog not to pull the leash because this could have physical consequences for the dog due to the tension of the device when collars are used instead of harnesses: “the neck is a susceptible part and the pressure of a collar due to the tension of the leash can be detrimental by the damage a trachea, thyroid, etcetera.”

For this reason, the canine educator insists on the need to establish good communication, with the aim of “avoiding conflicts between the dog and the human, fully enjoying each walk, and safeguarding the animal’s health.”

Tips to prevent the dog from pulling on the leash on walks

Good communication and physical and verbal respect for the animal should be the fundamental pillars of our dog-human relationship. The most advisable thing is that this communication and the bond are established from a puppy so that we avoid behavioral problems in the future. 

The canine educators Gonzalo Trigo and Marco Moretti give us some recommendations so that our trips to the streets are not frustrating but rather a pleasant moment to share with our faithful friends. Here are his tips to prevent your dog from pulling on the leash on walks:

Dog Training

Leash Type:

Educators recommend using two or three-meter-long leashes, which allow the dog to explore, sniff and manage his own space freely. Moretti always advises using harnesses, and in some situations, such as with powerful dogs, the use of a chest harness can help.

Never use choke necklaces or spikes.

Avoid extendable leashes:

With this handling tool, the dog learns that it can move forward when there is tension on the leash, which is the opposite of what we have to communicate to the dog. For Gonzalo Trigo, the circle of autonomy must always be predictable so that the dog is always clear when it is inside or not. It is impossible to offer the dog that forecasts with extendable, so they should be discarded.

Strengthening the bond with the dog:

For Moretti, the bond with our dog is strengthened by guiding it with coherent, respectful communication and based on trust. In his opinion, we must offer our dog everything he needs to cover his physical needs ( adequate physical exercise, rest, good nutrition) and emotional (safety, low levels of stress, good social relations with other dogs and human beings).

Please do not respond to a tug on the leash with a stronger draw:

For Trigo, the caregiver or guide’s tug on the leash only serves to express his frustration. The dog does not learn anything other than to conflict with his handler to get something. The space that our dog loses when we respond with jerks often generates frustration, which is the cause of many unwanted behaviors. In addition, the animal can suffer physical damage with the draws.

Establish reasonable, respectful, and bond-based communication guidelines:

It is the only way to teach our dogs the guidelines for coexistence in an environment tailored to humans. Using verbal and physical threats with our dogs has very negative consequences in the relationship with them. Modern ethology teaches us how to communicate with our animals without violence.

Prizes are not always a good idea:

According to Trigo, prizes can be helpful in certain situations. The problem? That generates dogs dependent on those awards and generates expectations that can cause frustration if not met. Moretti shares that idea, for whom “food and rewards, such as play, can be used in a part of a dog’s education, but it is advisable to achieve that social reinforcement is the most important reward for our companion.”

The dog is not a passive animal that must be “blocked”: 

Finally, Gonzalo Trigo warns that they do not work with a dog as a passive being that should be annulled to do what we expect, but rather try to that the dog is apparent where and with whom to move, what is its center of autonomy. The strap should not be an impulse control tool that blocks you but becomes a communication tool.