Pulling Dogs – Pet tip 166
Trying to walk a large strong dog is usually difficult for novice dog owners and even some experienced dog owners. Especially when the dog has had no obedience training, pulling is a common behaviour that dogs will engage in on walks. After all there are so many interesting things to smell and so many interesting sights to see. Dogs just want to take it all in as fast as they can, and if you let them they will pull you wherever they want to go.
This pulling quickly becomes a problem for dog owners as a strong dog that pulls also puts pressure on the dog owner’s wrist, hand elbow and shoulder. This pressure can be a constant pressure on the owner’s limbs or it can be a strong sudden pull as the dog tries to dart off in a particular direction. This is a problem because instead of the dog owner walking the dog, the dog is actually walking the owner where it wants to go. Sometimes during these sudden pulls, dogs get loose and chase whatever is in their sight-line. Owners loose control of the dog’s leash and the dog often darts off into the street, into traffic where regular accidents happen. It goes without saying that for the dog’s safety and for happy walks that dog owners need be the leader at all times. The dog needs to listen to its owner and go where the human leads it and not the other way around.
In order to deal with this problem, many tools have been created to help you walk your dog. Choke chains, prong collars and harnesses are 3 extremely common tools that dog owners use when they have walking issues. A choke chain is a metal chain with two larger metal loops on both ends. When placed around the dog’s neck, and attached to a leash a slight jerk will often stop a dog from pulling. A prong collar is a full metal collar with prongs that dig into the dog’s skin when it pulls. A harness is a contraption that fits onto a dog’s neck and body and offers the dog-walker more control over a pulling dog. All of these tools can be very effective at getting your dog to stop pulling. These tools can easily be misused though and they can seriously harm (and in some cases kill) your dog when used incorrectly. It is HIGHLY recommended that you get a demonstration from a competent professional before you use these tools due to how often dog owners misuse them.
On the other side of the coin is the philosophy that if you just ‘teach’ your dog not to pull, you’ll never need to use these tools (or become dependent upon them) in the first place. Teaching a dog not to pull requires obedience training which is recommended for ALL dogs anyway. A dog needs to know its place in the family and should always listen to its owners. That means no pulling on walks, no aggression of any kind toward any family member and listening to basic commands 100% of the time. Group obedience training is a perfect setting to help achieve this. There your dog should learn that no matter what goes on, it must listen to its owner. Dogs are pack animals and the humans should always be the leaders of the pack. Dogs rarely challenge a clearly defined leader and so when you are walking with your dog and it tries to pull all you should need to say is the word ‘heel’ and it should walk according to your pace and stop pulling.
Whichever method you do choose to help control your dog on a walk, remember to also let dogs be dogs. Let them loose in a safe closed off environment to run around and get some exercise. Although we want them to walk nicely on dog-walks, they also need some type of more vigorous exercise to burn off steam and help keep their bodies in good shape.