The Top 5 Reasons Your Dog is Pulling, Sputtering, Choking and Yanking You While on His Leash

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leash training, choking dog, choke leash

Does This Look About Right? Thanks Toon Pool for the picture

So you have a puller?

You know what I mean, a dog that pulls like “Wild Fire” on the leash?

I have even know the occasional person that needed shoulder surgery or had their arm/arms broken by a dog because of pulling!

And those who say they have tried EVERYTHING!!

So what is ruining your leash training?

#5 You Put a Leash On, Thinking You Are Taking Your Dog Out for “Exercise”

The Truth is that most dogs don’t get “exercise” on a walk.

Owners grab the leash and think they will take their dogs for a stroll for a few blocks, but your dog needs more exercise than you think.

Your dog is an athlete, and unless you are running or jogging at your dog’s pace, he is bored and not getting true exercise.  For more on that click this article Want to Get and Keep Your Dog’s Attention?

Your dog is probably over excited (from a boring day of hanging out doing nothing) and over exuberant and his natural instinct and desire is to go as fast as possible; which leads to pulling you with his leash.

Remember, your dog has the attention span and excitement level of a toddler.  Would you take a toddler to the zoo or Chuck E. Cheese and not expect them to be excited?

To slow your dog down a little bit prior to your leash “walk” give him some real exercise.

Play a good game of retrieve, train him, or build his drive PRIOR to trying to walk him!

#4 You Have a Goal, or Somewhere You Plan to Go

As people, we tend to be pretty self-centered and therefore not very consistent in our dog training.

You may “want” to go to the park, or your friend’s house, or hit your five mile mark but, that might not be in your dog’s best interests.

Instead you may need to stop in your tracks when he is pulling, or change your direction, or just go home.

If you take your dog with you, even if you want to take him to the park, you need to do what is best for him AND his training.

For some people that means simply working on leash manners and maybe not even making it out of the driveway.

Never make “plans” or have a destination in mind unless your dog has great leash skills and obedience!

If you need to go somewhere or have time constraints and your dog is not ready; go by yourself until your dog’s obedience is up to par.

#3  You Don’t Understand Opposition Reflex

leash training, choking dog, choke leash

Thanks Toon Pics for the Photo

You don’t understand Opposition Reflex.

Meaning: that you don’t truly understand that pulling on the leash is a nasty habit that you both are engaging in and therefore you are both creating a bad habit.

He pulls, you pull and neither one of you are winning!

You end up with a tired and possibly painful arm, and he can end up with damage to his trachea that can shorten his life and end sadly for you both.

When your dog pulls; DON’T PULL BACK!!

#2  You Are Painfully Inconsistent

Sometimes you care about your dog pulling; and sometimes you don’t.

I have seen owners who use prong collars sometimes, or smack their dogs with the end of the leash, or pop the leash so hard they send their dog flying.

While other times they allow their dog pull like a maniac on the end of the leash.

The problem with inconsistency is that your dog never knows which “personality” if you will, will show up for the walk or training.

AND, pulling probably happens the most consistently and is certainly the most fun.

Most dogs would rather pull and sniff and pull 😉 than walk nicely and patiently at your side.

So pulling is what your dog is most likely to try!

And The Number 1 Reason Your Dog is Pulling on the Leash??

#1  You Have Never Taught Your Dog Leash Manners or Leash Related Obedience Skills

leash training, choking dog, choke leash

Thanks Funny Pictures for the photo

Most dog owners think leash manners and not pulling on the leash should be some kind of instinct that all dogs but theirs are born with!

The truth is the opposite.

It is pretty natural to get over excited and pull against something that is restraining you from doing what you want to do (go FASTER).

It is not instinctual for dogs to respect the leash and put themselves into “heel” position.  For more on finding heel, click here 

For those of us who compete in dog obedience training trials and have great on and off leash dogs we mock the idea that dogs are hard wired to walk nicely on leash.

We KNOW firsthand how difficult and how much time it takes to have a dog that listens and respects the leash.

And, we know the value of consistency.

My dogs are NEVER allowed to successfully pull on their leashes.

leash training, choking dog, choke leash

This is What it Should Look Like! Thanks drsophiayin for the picture

I don’t care what is going on or what time constraint I am on, I do NOT allow my dogs to pull and get what they desire.

They learn through training and consistency if they want privileges (yes I allow them to “be dogs” and wander and sniff occasionally.  They are not robots and are not kept in heel position constantly. )

It took months of training and adding distractions slowly to get a dog that I could walk to the park consistently with very little effort.

Teaching eye contact and focus for more on that click here  and leash manners is demanding.

MONTHS…..  let that sink in for a minute

There were days I didn’t make it out of my driveway.

AND, there were days I spent changing directions dozens of times in front of my neighbors homes (therefore looking like a crazy person I am sure).

Dogs need consistency and TEACHING in order for them to respect the leash and not pull; and sometimes those skills need to be revisited when the dog decides to pull.

And, dog training takes thought and effort.

Remember the old adage “Nothing Good In Life is Free”  all GOOD or GREAT things take time and effort!

Want To Learn More About “Leash Manners” Training For Your Dog?

Check out our video series where we walk you through how to teach your dog to not pull and instead be well-behaved on a leash.

Click here to learn this ‘Leash Manners’ training process

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There are 35 Comments

  1. sonya says:

    Brilliant. Loved your writing style. Loved your msg just as much.

    [Reply]

    Janet Hickmott Reply:

    Now you are talking my type of help. My springer spaniel is a treasure to love till I pick up the lead and then he is a monster and I am lucky I still have my arm in its socket.

    [Reply]

    Heriyanto Reply:

    Hi, Chet

    Nice to read your explanation about dog leash. I am interested in the part of making the dog on heel position. Sometimes, if I look at the video of heel position when we are walking with our dog, it is so nice. But does all dogs do heeling position when we are walking whenever we want to walk ? second thing, should our dog in heel position if we take them out for a walk ?

    As you mentioned that our dog is not a robot, then somebody else said the proper position of dog when walking is in heel position or left side.

    Please give more advice on this.

    Your assistant is highly appreciated.

    Regards,

    Herry

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I think heel position is crucial!!!!

    I allow my dogs to “be dogs” but when I see a distraction coming they are to go to heel position give me eye contact and heel past whatever is coming then if they were good they can go out and be dogs again.

    So I allow and make my dogs do both… but they are never allowed to pull :)

    Read the articles within this article and you will understand more

    [Reply]

  2. Damian says:

    I respect you for the contribution you make and the effort you take to educate people on how to understand their pets…
    True you need to earn… And live too … But at the same time you as a genuine Dog lover yourself give people a lot of info free of charge for those who can’t afford to buy …
    I wish you well and Gods Blessings …
    Please keep up the fantastic work …
    You help make a Dogs life much happier …

    Damian

    [Reply]

  3. jacelyne says:

    Thank you for your notes,
    What if the dog refuses to walk and get scared when he sees the leash, by forcing him to walk I will have a stop every minute.
    He loves the freedom, does not like to be leashed at all.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I will be publishing another article on dogs that don’t like leashes :) keep your eyes out but eye contact and focus would fix that too… and understanding opposition reflex and not pulling him forward will help also

    [Reply]

  4. Lorelei Baumlisberger says:

    It is do true, I have a 14 week old Rottweiler pup, and he sometimes gets
    rambunctious, and I have to walk with a walker, which makes I think a little more precarious, but he learned with it, at one weeks, how to walk with me, although, he does have a tendency, to pull now and then, I make him stop, and sit. That usually cures the for a bit.

    [Reply]

  5. Gary Jackson says:

    It seems to be a distraction issue. As long as your dog is focused on you (and not other things) he/she will leash walk more calmly and submissively. Walking in the opposite direction and/or stopping frequently seems to be the right message. I am walking “you (the dog) not the opposite.

    [Reply]

  6. Julie says:

    How about a dog who only wants to lay down throughout a “walk”? Have to prod him up all the time!

    [Reply]

  7. Yolande says:

    I love this article. However, and this is the truth, my German Shepherd pup learned how to walk on a leash without pulling…it seems natural to him…an enigma!

    [Reply]

  8. Vicki Kerr says:

    I’ve trained other dogs (smaller), and I agree with everything you say except with our current dog I can’t stop him. He literally pulls me off my feet and drags me if I don’t let go. I won’t let go because i don’t want him hit by a car, so he just takes off dragging me behind him on the ground until he finally breaks free. I’m not trying to go anywhere, I’m just trying to work on leash manners, but he knows he can take off and does. HELP!!!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Then you haven’t taught him eye contact and focus!! Work on that and I would use a gentle leader

    [Reply]

  9. Fred says:

    Numbereing Error in article

    #5, #4, #3, #4, #1, oops #3 should be followed by #2 not a second #4.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    hahaha sometimes I have ADD and it is hard to slow my constantly churning mind down. I think I wrote 5 articles at once this day… I will go fix that 😉

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  10. sun says:

    Thanks a lot for all the tips you give to us. I have an Alaskan Malamute 5 month old, very energetic, very naughty, I’m trying to follow some of your tips but in vain. Every morning when it’s time to go for a walk he is always ready.He is the one to bring his leash and some time waiting at the gate. The only thing he keep pulling when we are walking, any remedies for that. Please send me any info on my email add.Thanks

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    read the article 😉

    [Reply]

  11. Tracy says:

    Great article! I don’t feel so silly now for stopping every few steps!I’d got the walking sussed then agoraphobia took over my dog. Now, having to start the lead training all over again as she’s getting braver about going out – hard work with a 40kg 17 months dog!

    [Reply]

  12. Katie says:

    I have a 4-year old Shih Tsu/Bichon female and I am a 77 year old female. My Sassy loves to go for walks, but she gets so excited when she goes for a walk. She will sit at the corners or where we cross the street, but she is one tough little dog, and she pulls a lot. I also have to walk with a walker and oxygen and I really was ready to give up. I was informed that there is a collar that has a part that goes over the muzzle with a strap attached in the center under her head and then attached to the harness. I have to tell you, it was amazing how well this works. She usually has to tug on the leash a couple of times when we start out, but it does not allow her to turn her head back and forth and she walks very well. She does not mind this muzzle-type of harness and we can have decent walks now.

    Katie

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I like a good gentle leader :)

    [Reply]

  13. Cindy Knox says:

    I purchased a Maltese puppy for my daughter who is 17 years 2013 for Christmas. He is currently 6 months old and I had him neutered at 5 1/2 months. We have applied your methods and suggestions but currently we would be happy to teach our puppy to stop pooping in his crate or play pin. One of us take him out early in the morning and throughout the day as we are available to (go). After we take him out he may or may not poop. If we put him the play pin he poops on the tile floor. The crate isn’t so big but he will poop in it occasionally. I think he is lactose intolerant and some of the treats on the market don’t agree with his system. We have discontinued giving to him. Sometimes he will not even let us know he has to (go). But other times I think he gets mad that he has been placed in the play pin instead of around the house play time.(We try to give play time in the house but we all have school and work.) I do not have a fenced yard and he runs off the neighbors yard if he isn’t on a leash. So, when we take him on a walk it counterproductive if we bring him back into the house because he pulled on the leash. He is a very smart dog and he learns quickly.

    [Reply]

    Linda Reply:

    Try using his kibble,(usual dry food) as his treats, they don’t care what it is as long as he’s being rewarded when good. If you think his treats are causing him intestinal distress, please stop using them.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    AND, I use treats peas sized or smaller.

    I could make one string cheese last all day when training Service Dogs out in public. Be stingy and make them work for it 😉

    [Reply]

  14. Frank says:

    Chet:
    I have used the Freedom Harness with much success, however, its like a rollercoaster ride with my siberian labrador mix. He knows he is not to pull but his instincts are stronger than his will. He has a lot of nervous energy and he is very intelligent, he knows basic commands and even knows “leave it” and “park it”, drop it and take it, so he is learning and has learned but sometimes it feels he deliberatley misbehaves. he is 4 years old
    I have bought a lot of material from you and I was very happy that you decided to make a video. Your thoughts would be appreciated,
    Thanks
    Frank R

    [Reply]

  15. Natalie Thoumine says:

    Hi there.
    I wonder if you might be able to help me.
    I have a 6 month old male Beagle named Milo.
    Since the minute he arrived he has been a complete nightmare to handle.
    Walking on the leash is just one of the many areas I am having difficulties with.
    I really feel that I have tried everything at this point.
    We enrolled in dog obedience training and completed the 6 week course.
    I have been consistent with the leash training since he arrived at 8 weeks old but am no further now then when he first arrived, in fact its worse now than ever.
    The minute we leave the house his nose hits the ground and I have absolutely no control over him. I have even tried taking treats out with me like we used to use in obedience training but he has no interest in anything other than pulling, I change directions and he just pulls that way instead. I’ve stopped and gone home various times but it seems to have no impact. He seems to have endless energy and even playing for a solid hour before we walk doesn’t help.
    I’m really feeling at a loss as to where to turn next, I want to be able to walk him calmly and for him to enjoy walking with me.
    Any help would be appreciated many thanks.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Enroll in our next companion dog training program and you will see results if you do your homework. email dana at info@thedogtrainingsecret.com

    [Reply]

  16. Kayla Lohse says:

    Hello I have a Belgian Malinois 8 week old puppy. All he wants to do is walk back to the house. So when we’re walking I have to constantly drag him causing him to choke. But once we turn around to go back to the house he is dragging me back which also makes him choke. I have no idea how to handle this

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    First, you shouldn’t even be walking an 8 week old puppy. Puppies immune systems are not safe for walks until they are completely vaccinated. You are risking parvo and other diseases every time you take your puppy out.

    Next, this is a learning process, which again, I think you are rushing. Teach leash manners first. you don’t even have to go outside the house to teach leash manners.

    The damage you do by pulling could be long term and irreversible. Teaching is more important, especially at this age and there are many articles within that will help you.

    [Reply]

  17. Kitty Farias says:

    So how do you stop them from pulling??? My dog pulls on certain occasions. Mostly when he sees someone or another dog. You said you never allow them. How? My dog starts to go forward and I turn around…. He refuses to go…. And twists and turns to try to go wear he wants. So how do you not allow that? I’ve tried every head collar and halter. So what does he do? STAMDS UP ON HIS HIND LEGS.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I don’t stop when he pulls I turn and go the other direction and wait for him to follow. Of course he tries to get where he wants and if you stop or give in he gets what he wants. When he figures out that he needs to be with me, I reward.

    But I also teach my dogs eye contact while they heel so they are less likely drawn in by everything around them.

    [Reply]

  18. Kitty Farias says:

    Yes I turn and keep walking. He wont budge and continues to pull towards the person or thing. So then I would have to pull and it becomes a tug of war. He knows sit, down, watch me, and being trained on heel. He also rings a bell when he has to potty. That being said he is also been to a puppy basic training and is now enrolled in the AKC canine good citizen where he does fairly well in classes. But when it comes to public situations he will fight to greet someone I end up with worn fingers. He weighs 54lbs at 9 months. Golden doodle. Walking the other way works great unless we’re approaching someone or at the dog park walking to the gate he gets so excited he no longer listens and it’s exhausting.

    [Reply]

  19. Mary says:

    Hi, I have the same problem as most. I have a lab. I have a gentle leader and I’m surprised it doesn’t work on him, at all. My previous dog was a Golden and she was perfect when I used the gentle leader. He doesn’t care, and he pulls even harder. Going for walks are so stressful. He’ll be 2 in a wk. The look at me and focus, just doesn’t work for him. He’ll look at me and sit and I’ll reward him. Then when we start walking again, same thing. He doesn’t pay any attention to me. When we go for a walk, I go where there are no distractions. So he pulls me to whatever I walk by so he can p on it! I’ve watched all the training videos! Before a walk I play fetch w/him, believe me he runs and runs plenty. Still he won’t walk nicely on the leash. I’ve tried everything. I walk in the driveway and all around here and he listens. I just can’t get him to focus on me. He listens great off leash. But once on leash, he thinks it’s pull time. Help, what do U suggest? Like I said, the gentle leader does not work on him. I even do the turn around and keep walking, when he catches up to me, he just pulls again. To trees, poles, anything, so he can smell it. He gets plenty of exercise!

    [Reply]

  20. Jason says:

    I just took my sisters dog out for a walk around the block and the entire time he gagged as if his collar was to tight or I was yanking him. Which I don’t do because he’s pretty good on walks. Got him home and he was acting fine. What gives?

    [Reply]

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