Tangled up in a tight leash - warning, this is cheeky

Jamie Flanders CDBC

Why are you hooking that leash to your dog? 

What are you hoping to accomplish? A walk, exercise, enrichment?  Or is it about control? Are you more interested in show boating your perfectly obedient dog and that completely ridiculous and impractical heel out in public? If it's the later then I can't, no, I won't help you. If it's the former than I can help you, and i'll do it right here, right now, for free because I'm emotionally exhausted watching you all fight your dog everyday I'm out enjoying mine.  I saw a dog doing a great job sticking his shoulder to his handlers knee, walking at the handlers snail pace, and for some reason that I couldn't make out he still received a leash pop and a forced sit time out. The day before that I saw a giant gulumping dog walking what appeared to be nicely beside a giant angry man who leashed popped the dog's prong collar. What's going on out there you guys?  

Here's my take on why a dog pulls on a leash and my tested and successful solutions:

  • The leash is too short. I've yet to hear someone complaining that their dog pulls on their long line.  I have heard people express fear in trying a long line with their leash pulling dog but the brave among them are now happily enjoying their outings with their dogs.  A short leash is for a short distance. From one door to another. If you're going to travel a long distance you need a long leash. Not a retractable leash, a 20-50 foot manual leash that you have to learn to manage yourself because they are safer, you can drop it if you need to without scaring your dog, and you have use of both your hands when needed. Practice your recall everyday, everywhere, and take toys and food with you, that way you wont have to be so nervous about dropping the line. 
  • You walk too slow. This isn't an issue if you aren't using a short leash for a long distance. A dog's brain is hugely devoted to scent so for heaven's sake let the poor thing sniff! Like actually sniff, don't be so quick to call him away from it, what are you afraid of, are you in a hurry? When you window shop do you stop and peek in for less than a second or do you get a good look? When you, a human, smell something amazing do you give a quick sniff and then move on? One more thing, there are scents all around you so he is not going to sniff in a straight line or only want to investigate scent within 6 feet of you either and hey guess what, all that mental processing of scent and zooming from one tree to the next is exhausting, you can cut your walk time in half!          If you want. 
  • You are walking in a neighborhood. Neighborhoods are the most inappropriate place to walk a dog and because you're in a neighborhood you must use a short leash.  Why are neighborhoods an awful place to walk a dog?
    • Tight space, blind corners, dogs barking behind fences, cars backing out of driveways, neighbor's lawns you don't want your dog toileting in, gardens you don't want your dog trampling, cars rolling close by, strangers you can't avoid, cats darting across the street, neighbors that want to chat, complete mayhem! 
    • What about hikes? Well, ideally this is a no leash environment and hiking and off leashing with your dog requires specific training so... 
  • You're not paying attention. You need to be alert and focused when you take your dog out in public. You must not be neck deep into your cellphone. Even in the right environment other people are not always being responsible, you need to see that off leash dog dashing toward you long before it arrives, you need to see the kid racing his bike up your tail so you can move your dog out of the way. 
  • You're still not paying attention.  Another part of paying attention is noticing and responding to what's going on with your dog and the leash or long line you hooked him up to. When you see your dog is about to reach the end of the line (or leash) you either need to stop or drop it so there is never tension happening while there's forward motion.  If you're in an appropriate environment then it's completely fine to drop the long line. If your near other people, dogs, streets, and cars then no it's not okay to drop the line but you should stop.  When the tension on the leash is gone get moving again. 
  • You're not that interesting. A dog will follow and keep an eye on a person they have a great relationship with. Can you guess what those two leash corrected dogs I mentioned before would do if their handlers tried letting go of those leashes they so desperately cling to?  Anyway, when you're out and about bring some water, toys, food and put your phone in your pocket. Play with your dog, take a shade break, throw a ball, practice your recall... 

Let's sum all of this up for you: 

  1. Go to parks and grassy fields, stay away from neighborhoods and tight spaces. if you're going to hike get some specialized training, I know someone. 
  2. Use a long line for long distances, use a short leash for short distances, use no leash or drop the line when no ones around or on hikes. 
  3. Pay attention to your environment and what you and your dog are doing.
  4. Engage with your dog