We’re Walking – Not Tugging – Solutions for Dogs that Tug on Leashes
By AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer Breanne Long
Does your dog or puppy like to tug on his leash rather than be walked by it?
This is a common problem, especially with young or very playful dogs, but luckily there are some simple solutions to correct it.
Firstly, don't create a behavior chain! Many owners teach their dog the "drop it" command and reward their dog with a cookie when he drops his leash on cue. Teaching “drop it” is a necessary component of every dog's training, however, it shouldn't be used in this situation. When you use it to ask your dog to drop his leash and then reward him for it, he learns the quickest way to get a treat is to first grab his leash. He will start grabbing his leash more often and more insistently if you continue to reward this behavior chain. Instead, keep your treats with you on your walk and reward your dog BEFORE he grabs his leash. "Catch" him while he's being good, reward him for it, and he'll soon learn the best way to earn a treat is to walk nicely by your side.
Secondly, remove the leash from his line of vision. Some dogs and puppies bite their leash simply because it's right in front of their faces. For these dogs sometimes a body harness, where the leash attaches to your dog’s back, can help.
Third, teach your dog to grab his leash on cue! This may seem counterintuitive, but if you put the leash biting behavior under stimulus control, your dog won't grab his leash unless you give him the command to do so.
Fourth, give him something else to carry. Many dogs, especially retrievers, are just mouthy and like to hold things. If you give your dog or puppy a ball or toy to carry, he may not feel the need to grab the leash. You can increase your chances of success with this method if you stop every once in a while and play with the toy with your dog. A game of tug at the street corner is great reinforcement for your dog to carry his toy!
For more tips on training your dog, enroll in the AKC GoodDog! Helpline, a seven-day-a-week telephone support service staffed by experienced dog trainers: www.akcgooddoghelpline.org