Teaching Dogs Not to Pull on Leash (cont.)

Dogs Who Resist Walking on Leash

Some dogs seem reluctant to walk on leash. Instead of pulling, they freeze or turn around and pull back toward home. Often these dogs are fearful, and they need help feeling comfortable when walking on leash.

  • Try leading your dog along by holding tasty treats in front of his nose. If he isn't too afraid, he'll follow the treats and gradually become more comfortable walking with you.
  • When your dog freezes, you can also try stopping a few feet in front of your dog and waiting. If he shows any signs of moving toward you, say “Yes!” and reach toward him to deliver a treat. Walk a few more feet away and again wait for your dog to voluntarily move toward you. Praise and reward him only for forward movement.
  • A third technique is appropriate only for small- to medium-sized dogs who walk for stretches at a time but then balk for no apparent reason. Have your dog wear a regular body harness. When he stops walking, pick him up by the back of the harness and move him a few feet along. This may “jump start” your dog to move again. Say “Yes!” and treat when the dog begins to move again on his own. Try to anticipate when the dog will balk and lure him along with treats so that he never stops.

It will help to walk your dog in less frightening environments at first. Instead of walking on a busy road, opt for a quiet residential street or a path through the park. Gradually progress to busier areas as your dog develops confidence in quieter places.

Some dogs respond well if you ask them to do something else when they stop forward movement. Ask your dog to sit, down, make eye contact, shake a paw or perform any other convenient behavior that he knows well and enjoys. This may help your dog forget why he was nervous and begin walking again. Of course, you should praise and reward him for performing these behaviors.

Fearful and insecure dogs benefit from low-key exposure to the world. Rather than going for a walk, try sitting on bench and just hanging out with your dog. Talk to him and periodically give him treats for any signs of relaxing in the situation, such as being calmer and able to pay attention to you and do easy behaviors you ask him to do (like sit) for tasty rewards.