Initially, it is important to understand why the dog is pulling on the lead. Is the dog excited to be on a walk or is the dog aggressing towards other dogs?
In addition, many dogs pull because the tension on the lead makes them pull against it, this is called the opposition reflex.
Handlers who use extending leads often encourage pulling on the lead. This is because when the dog puts tension on the lead the owner lets the lead out. This teaches the dog that to get more freedom all they need to do is pull on the lead.
Equipment – as an initial step the use of a harness where the lead attaches to the front of the harness should be used to help teach the dog where he should be walking and to reduce the dog’s power.
Behaviour modification –it is important that the handler does not pull back or snap on the lead.
Positive reinforcement – ‘Come on back’: when walking the dog on the lead the owner should call their dog back to them and reward them for doing so. The dog should begin to realise that good things happen around the handler – treats. Allow the dog to walk on and sniff again. After a few seconds call the dog back and reward him for being at your side. Continuous reinforcement is given, whenever the dog is walking next to the handler. This will encourage him to stay walking in that position. More often than not, dogs have not been taught the correct position to walk in, so it is important to teach them that they should be walking next to the handler.
Negative punishment – ‘Going nowhere!’ is teaching the dog that when they pull on the lead there is a stop in forward motion. Whenever the dog begins to pull on the lead the handler should stop, stand still and wait for the dog to look back and pay attention to the handler. Once the dog has checked in with the handler, the positive reinforcement method described above should be employed.