Whole Dog Journal's Blog October 18, 2017

Walking the Dog on Leash - Why Is It So Hard for People?

Posted at 10:38AM - Comments: (36)

After spending a couple days in the heavily dog-populated San Francisco Bay area recently, I found myself wondering: Why is it so hard for people to walk their dogs on a leash?

Dogs are so numerous in that area that I’d estimate I saw at least 300 human/dog pairs or groups out walking. (I had my young dog Woody with me, and so I was out walking him, too. And on the last day there, I picked up my son’s dog, Cole, and we stopped at a large, well-known off-leash area for dogs, Point Isabel, where one can observe at least 100 dogs at any given time of day.) I’d guess that a full 85 percent of the dogs I saw were either pulling or†dragging†their owners down the street. About half of these pulled steadily (“Come ON, let’s GO!”), and the other half pulled intermittently (“Wait, I need to sniff this! Okay, let’s go! Wait! I need to sniff that! Okay, let’s go!").

Of the 15 percent of dogs I saw who were not pulling, about 10 percent were old, super slo-mo dogs who looked like they couldn’t (or just really didn’t want to) go faster than their human could walk. A few of these were being pulled by their owners – and that’s quite a sad sight in my book, an owner hurrying an old dog faster than he or she wants to/can go. I can’t help but wish the same fate to those people – having a distracted attendant rush them down facility halls when they are old and stiff and perhaps a little blind and/or deaf. Sheesh!

I’d guess that only about five percent of the dogs I saw being walked behaved nicely on leash: no pulling, no extended sniffing sessions, no stopping to bristle or bark at other dogs or people, just quietly matching their pace to their human’s pace, stopping and waiting quietly when the person stopped.

It’s a tragedy, because (of course) if it’s a big hassle or chore (or scary) to walk your dog, then he’s not going to get walked enough, and the less he walks, the harder it’s going to be to keep his cooperation on walks. Although I deplore their use, I see why people resort to choke chains, pinch collars, and even shock collars; the reason I deplore them, mainly, is that they rarely work. The pulling/reactive behavior persists (and sometimes worsens), because the person still doesn’t know how to teach the dog to walk nicely on leash; he or she just has a bit more control over the dog’s pulling/lunging etc.†

Personally, I think the key to teaching a dog to walk nicely on leash is to start with tons of walking OFF-leash – and I know that I’m spoiled in this regard, in that I have tons of space in which to walk my dogs off leash safely. When your dog can walk nicely with you without a leash, then walking on leash is easy.

Here are a couple of past articles we’ve published on walking your dog. And I’m going to assign a few writers to write some more.

Leash-Training Your Dog for Crowds

Loose-Leash Walking

Comments (36)

My dog can focus heel like nobody's business but her regular leash walking is, frankly, abysmal. I have tried every method known to dog and human kind. Same results.....slight improvement but not enough that you would notice. She doesn' t drag me, and isn't really reactive to either people or other dogs which is weird because she generally is not good at all with other dogs, she is pretty good with "Let's Go!!" is she tarries too long for a particular good sniff- -but walk calmly at my side? Not so much! Calm isn't really in her vocab. She struggles to keep from acting up if she knows that she is going to get her off leash run---literally vibrating in place. It isn't that I am lazy, I have devoted time daily to this task since she was a puppy, she is just a really active dog.

Posted by: Mel Blacke | October 30, 2017 4:09 AM    Report this comment

Funny. One of my dogs is SO good of-leash, We get lots of admiration and praise. But when she has be on leash, she is pretty awful ;-( Not pulling -- just running round and round me in circles :-(
I agree with 'cheralyse'. Human walking pace is so vey uncomfortable for most dogs. (Probably why Salle runs round be in circles.) A longer lead so that dogs can trot, then stop and sniff
while you catch up, or run back and forth to you or run in zig-zags in front to you works better.

Posted by: Jenny H | October 24, 2017 6:28 PM    Report this comment

Dreamweaver: I hear people who use retractable leads say that they'll just retract them when necessary, but I really don't under

how do you go about retracting that leash? Do you pull the dog towards you? How so? One arm length at a time? Please tell me you don't grab the lead itself? Or do you get closer to the dog? If your dog suddenly bolts toward something, how are you going to be able to retract the lead?

Posted by: ZeldaFrancesca | October 23, 2017 3:09 PM    Report this comment

Dreamweaver: I hear people who use retractable leads say that they'll just retract them when necessary, but I really don't under

how do you go about retracting that leash? Do you pull the dog towards you? How so? One arm length at a time? Please tell me you don't grab the lead itself? Or do you get closer to the dog? If your dog suddenly bolts toward something, how are you going to be able to retract the lead?

Posted by: ZeldaFrancesca | October 23, 2017 3:09 PM    Report this comment

Why is it so hard to get people to wagon their dog on a leash?

Their dog is extra-special. Their dog would never, ever leave their side or fail to come when called. They believe this right up until the time their dog leaves their side and is so focused on the reason for leaving that he doesn't come when called.

Their dog is friendly! Their dog would never hurt anyone. It seems to have never occurred to them that not all other dogs are friendly. They're going to be OUTRAGED when their dog runs up to a reactive (leashed) dog and gets hurt.

I have a reactive dog and people who insist their dog can be walked without a leash infuriate me. I'm working on my dog's reactivity and we're making great progress, but a loose dog that rus up to my dog will not fare well. We've had several close calls with a loose dog running toward my dog, with the owner calling the dog while the dog ignores them. Then they always say "she doesn't usually leave the yard, he doesn't usually leave my side." And yet here we are.

Bad trainers and people's unshakable faith in anyone who calls them self a trainer. People using prong/choke/shock collars always say "the trainer told us to do this." They also say "we tried everything and this is the only thing that worked." But if you start asking questions, "What happened when you tried X? What about Y?" you quickly learn that " tried everything" actually means "tried not very much at all."

Unwillingness to put in the time for proper training. People seem to think that dog training will be fast and easy and if it's not, they give up. Their dog just won't do that. I've lost count of the number is times I've been told "you don't understand, it's easy for you, you have a really well behaved dog." What I actually have is a dog with a really independent spirit, who would much rather do what she wants. She came to me with zero training. She's "really well behaved" because of the time I've put in training her (and continue to put in).

These people also marvel that every foster dog I've ever had is also "really well behaved." Or, if they see bad behavior while I'm still training the dog, it's "see, not all dogs are well behaved, now you know what it's like for other people." And when that same dog later becomes "really well behaved," it's due to some mysterious, unknown force. "This dog has really calmed down." "This dog really likes you now." "You must be so relieved that this dog started behaving." It's always a variation that has the dog suddenly behaving for some inexplicable reason. It never seems to occur to them that is because I've put in hours working with and training the dog.

Lease laws exist for very good reasons and they protect everyone. I've very tired of people who think that law doesn't apply to them for some reason.

Posted by: ZeldaFrancesca | October 23, 2017 3:02 PM    Report this comment

It seems a little obvious to me that the writer of this article doesn't live in a city.
I live in NYC and used to own an Akita. I had to be shown how to hold a lead, what type of lead is best for the dog AND the size of my hand, how to use my body for leverage in case the dog pulls, what type of harness is best for the dog, etc...How many trainers bother to do this!
I mention living in a city because there are so many owners who buy that horrible retractable lead wanting their dog to 'feel more freedom' on their walk.' I was injured quite badly when my dog had an issue with another one on that thing, and the cable cut my leg.
When you learn how to drive, you learn the basics of maneuvering your car. When you get a dog, you need to be taught how to control your dog. It takes time and effort, something that far too many people are willing to do.

Posted by: Rbert135 | October 22, 2017 2:51 PM    Report this comment

In theory retractable leads are great, and clearly the preference of many. But in reality theyíre unreliable. I had a bloodhound who was great to walk and decided to try a retractable leash, after just a few walks, ours snapped, he was barely pulling, ever chased a bloodhound on a scent!?
I now use a 6 ft strong leather lead for my 225 lb mastiff, even tho heís really great to walk(finally at age 5!). You just never know what temptation will pop up! Heís great-not perfect! My 70 lb bulldog is a much tougher walk! Heís going to pull no matter what, am just lucky that he goes about a block-at most before he says ďenough of this fun-I want to go home and lie down!Ē
It seems like a lot of others on here, we just do the best we can! I want my boys to enjoy getting out and getting some exercise-we most likely will never win any trophies for best trained leash walkers! Our prize is enjoying our time together safely for us and others(despite the looks of fear from those when they see my mastiff coming towards them!).

Posted by: Raji | October 22, 2017 12:42 PM    Report this comment

I have had border collies or bc mixes all my life. I thought I knew everything about training and dogs until my most recent dog a border collie/spaniel mix who is a puller, barker, and lounger. He has fear aggression, as he was never socialized as a puppy. I adopted him when he was 1 1/2 and he is now 5 1/2 yrs old. Because of his aggression issues I went to work with a behaviorist, I had no idea what to do with an aggressive dog as I had never had one. We learned a lot, but although progress was being made, he was becoming super obedient, our walks were getting better if no triggers, he woud walk loose, sit by my side when I stopped or if I gave command sit or stop...but if he saw a dog, cat, child or person that gave the wrong vibe he would convert (still does) into cujo. It was suggested he would be "destoyed"...do you put your human kid because he is a bully?

While working with the behaviorist, she taught me to put him on a 40 ft lead let him go almost all the way and then call him and make it very rewarding to comeback to me. I found a bayou with a greenbelt about 20 minutes from my house that no one went to. I started taking him there and practicing this all the time, we would go 3-4 times a day about 30-40 minutes at at time...he loved it, because after our training sessions, he would get to go off leash and be wild.

Gradually I started taking him to the park, not the dog park, but a park that most people go to to run or walk some with dogs. We would go mid morning, weekdays only and on a 20 ft lead. I would let him stop, sniff, leave a pee mail, chase after a squirrel, when I would see someone at a distance either behind us or in front of us, I would call him back to me, give him lots of praise, get off of the path putting him on a down stay position and we woud watch the person from a safe distance walk/run by and then we would have a party. I would tell him what a good boy he was and let him chase me, or I would pretend to faint and let him revive me by him jumping on me and licking my face, I would jump up and chase him and after 5 minutes of this we would resume our walk. Fast forward 4 yrs and he still pulls, stops, sniffs, leaves his pee mail, barks at people or animals he does not like, but he learned to do this walking not too much or too far behind from me, and considering how he used to be I am okay with status quo. Whenever I see a trigger I give the "lets go" command turn around and go a different direction even if it means back tracking, thus making our walks longer.

He is beyond terrific off leash, we still go to our bayou every day, 3-4 times a day and when he now sees anything he does not likes because it scares him, he comes back running back to me and sits by my side, I put him on a leash and we wait until the scary human or animal goes by.

In spite of his fears my dog is a very happy dog who is full of himself (if that makes sense) but just like all of us he is not perfect, and has a lot of emotional baggage, then again don't we all?

I wish I could post a video of him chasing a deer at full speed and coming right back to me when I whistled with the happiest look on his face, with a face that said... I am a dog, I run, I chase therefore I live!!!!

I would never, ever consider putting him to sleep, I live a very structured life, but is an oh so worth it life.

Posted by: olinda1967 | October 22, 2017 12:16 PM    Report this comment

I have a dog that is part Borden Collie, Maltese, Mini Schnauzer, and a piere De Car//// from Spain that is outlawed in several European countries for aggressiveness. He's a lover. BUT when he sees something, forget it. I get pulled.
I have done all the things the trainer showed me, all the things Cesar has shown on his show, other things I have seen online or in magazines. I got him as a rescue. If he sees nothing, it is loose leash. if no leash, he runs down the street and then if I am not behind him, he runs back to me. he does go tot he dog park at times, he does get walks am and many pms. I wish I could afford a nice big fence with a critter barrier as he'd dig his way out to find me.

Posted by: Daizie59 | October 22, 2017 11:09 AM    Report this comment

I think different people have different philosophies about the purpose of walking their dog. For some, it's an exercise in obedience and for others, it's a chance to let their dog get out and enjoy the elements. This author's tone is a bit self-righteous and her information not particularly helpful. Dogs come from all walks of life and have their own personalities, just like people. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. And just like us, they don't like everyone or every dog they meet. Knowing your dog and what, if any, triggers there are goes a long way to having a better walk.

Posted by: Katie M. | October 22, 2017 10:10 AM    Report this comment

If you haven't tried to train a dog in the city, please don't criticize others. Many of us have spent a lot of money and exhaustive hours on training yet still have a dog that is difficult to walk on a leash in areas populated by numerous people and dogs, especially if there are other distractions.

Posted by: sfdoglover | October 21, 2017 6:54 PM    Report this comment

To: Wolfy Dog
I couldn't agree more. I also have a GSD who must be walked with a prong collar as she loves to chase cats more than anything! There is no way she can be kept on my tiny property and she must be walked in my neighborhood. The careless cat owners who leave their pets out with no supervision and no place to seek safety are now seeing that many coyotes that have moved into our neighborhood are killing ever more cats. Very sad.

M's Mom

Posted by: zasha | October 20, 2017 12:58 PM    Report this comment

I used to successfully train loose leash walking with the clicker until.....I got my first working line high-drive GSD. I had to seriously look at my pre-conceived ideas of thinking that clickering was the gospel. Clickering worked beautifully with him until toys, treats and praise no longer worked in certain situations where "life just pops up" and he pulled me off my feet. It took a lot of educating myself of what was the best tool for this dog. I am not using front-clip harnesses due to the fact that my vet has seen many injuries, same with the gentle leaders and with a powerful breed like him, they wouldn't work in a determined dog and I would run the risk of injuring myself or letting go of the leash in traffic. So what else was left? I decided to give the prong collar a try after trying it on myself. It is not the torturing tool as it looks like. A good one with dull points divides the pressure on the neck, thus preventing injury unlike regular collars or martingales in unexpected situations. Long story short: it works like power steering. I still use it with rewards for good behavior. It requires education to use it safely and correctly. You just don't put it on in the hopes that the dog controls and regulates itself. I know that this goes against the WDJ ideas but I think that when we keep an open mind, many more dogs and owners could enjoy more walks. In the past (when clickering was the only way for me) I had an arthritic lady in my class with a strong young Bouvier. She asked if she could use the prong or else she couldn't even walk the dog safely. I was hesitant but decided that she had a point. So she got her dog trained and was able to enjoy walks. My dog doesn't hate that collar; she happily comes running when she hears it. I don't recommend a prong as the first tool but when you really need physical control after everything else has failed, it will make a huge difference.

Posted by: wolfy dog | October 20, 2017 12:19 PM    Report this comment

I'm not sure of your tone in this article. To educate your normal dog owner, I do my best to meet them where they are and not coming across as judgmental...in an effort to not alienate them. The second you alienate them, you lose your chance to educate. I believe to help dogs, we need to help the people that own them. Too bad...this article was a good opportunity to make a positive difference...instead the tone sounds mean and judge-y....people who need the guidance won't even read this.

Posted by: captgirliepants | October 20, 2017 10:56 AM    Report this comment

If you can't control your dog on a leash despite your best efforts, then please consider other dogs' safety and keep your dog on your own property. I had to throw myself on top of a 50-60 lb dog who attacked my Sheltie to break up the fight. The kid who was walking him never let go of the leash - he simply wasn't strong enough to control him.

Posted by: septembermary | October 20, 2017 9:27 AM    Report this comment

I have a Yorkie. Anyone who has had or has a Yorkie has to know what I am talking about. I am sure there are very well behaved Yorkies that walk quietly beside their owner. Mine doesn't. She sort of floats really fast. EVERYTHING distracts her. I did the puppy class and the more advanced class when I got her, but she fought me every step of the way. I am quite sure it is my fault that she isn't well behaved on a leash, but she is the most stubborn, willful 6 lb. bundle I have ever had the "pleasure" of dealing with. She is my first dog and I know I made a lot of mistakes, but the wonderfulness and lovingness of her makes up for the bad. I love her to death and I try to do my best to keep her safe (and me too!), get her enough exercise and just let her be a dog!

Posted by: Sportschick | October 19, 2017 6:43 PM    Report this comment

First, you should not use a collar to walk a dog or put on a dog at anytime. Dogs need a harness to prevent damage to their thyroid gland. And if that isn't enough, try putting a belt around your neck to see what a dog feels! It is awful. We have never used a collar on any of our dogs and they walk freely and easily with out danger.

Posted by: Mimma | October 19, 2017 6:33 PM    Report this comment

To put things in perspective here, it's hard to imagine living with a "difficult" dog until you actually get one. I've been good with dogs all my life - walking 4 dogs on leash when I was 11 years old (2 great Danes, 1 German Shepherd, 1 Long Haired Dachshund.) All of my dogs have been super well behaved simply because of the way I treat them. But my two current dogs have totally opposite walking styles and it's difficult. I have to be doggie psychologist on our walks, and it takes an enormous effort to give them a happy walk. But I stick with it. And I absolutely LOVE these two dogs. Before I got these dogs I used to look at people with their difficult dogs and think, "What is their problem?" Now I know that even if you think you know everything about dogs, you can get one who throws you completely off-balance.

Posted by: SundogsHawaii | October 19, 2017 6:21 PM    Report this comment

Love posts like, e.g. @cheralyse's We adopted our 2-1/2yo hound about 1-1/2yr ago. The girl is squirrel crazy. She is what she is. (...and here in the suburbs, we have about 10x the squirrel density as any woods.) When we leave the house in the morning, I call it a "walk" but she never has been convinced that we aren't hunting squirrels.

I work with her on polite walking every day; sometimes more deliberately than other times. Nowadays she's pretty good at it and we cover miles and miles in harmony. Her favorite squirrel hunting grounds are near the dog park, tho. So, if you'd been watching us at your dog park, you would never have known that also walked politely 5 miles that day.

Posted by: cwdillon | October 19, 2017 2:21 PM    Report this comment

Wow, so many thoughts at the various comments here. I, too, am a bit taken aback at your tone, but, I generally agree with you so I will let this one slide.

Much like Carolyn M, I, too, have a wild child. She'll be 2 on, yes, Halloween. Need I say more? We have taken classes galore, worked with a highly respected trainer, tried all the tricks and behaviors that are supposed to work, practiced these techniques every single day during our 3 mile walk, and still, she pulls. Not terribly hard, but she does not present the behavior I would prefer on leash.

I live in Maine and although we walk through neighborhoods, the traffic is very light, and very few others walk their dogs so we rarely meet anyone else. So, much like Nancy suggested, I am lucky that I was able to simply let her off leash. Actually, she minds her manners very, very well off leash. If she starts to stray off the sidewalk towards the street or someone's lawn, the command is simply 'get over'. And she immediately goes back to the acceptable path. So, while this is not perfect, it is what we have settled on. And to the individual who has decided we are all 'lazy', well, everyone has an opinion.

Posted by: Bella and Breeze's Mom | October 19, 2017 1:56 PM    Report this comment

Admittedly, we lucked out when we adopted our dog off Craigslist and got a super-smart little guy. He was four months old when we brought him home. Training started immediately. A high-energy puppy, even five-mile hikes up mountain trails weren't wearing him out.

When we learned dog-training many years ago, we learned using choke chains. Yes, that's old school and some may think it's "not right," but it sure works. After a time, there is no need to reinforce commands using the choke chain. Putting on the chain becomes the signal for your dog that fun walk time is on the horizon.

Our dog still gets his morning hikes (much of the hike off-leash) and sometimes, hours later, an added bonus of a 2-hour-long frolic at the beach (off-leash). At 14 months and 55 lbs now, he heels mindfully and happily on-leash. Automatic sit is second nature to him. When we're on the beach or the trails and he starts to get a bit unruly, he must heel off-leash for a time until he settles down.

We have found that the "touch" command really helps, when allowing one's dog off-leash. "Touch" means an extended hand and let's your dog know he must come to you and touch your hand. This type of checking in helps to reinforce the bond and lets the dog understand that it's not all about him and he needs to maintain that bond with you. It keeps your dog from wandering too far.

One thing to keep in mind: your dog is not your master. Teaching him manners and respect is a good thing. An obedient dog is a happy dog because that dog is allowed so much more freedom.

We would like to add that changing direction when walking your dog on-leash and off-leash is a wonderful way to teach heeling. It works. When we learned dog training, no treats were involved. We have trained with love and consistency and the result is fun walks with happy dogs.

Posted by: MiTmite9 | October 19, 2017 1:54 PM    Report this comment

If your judgement that a dog has been trained to walk what is basically a loose heel is based on just watching, you may be jumping to conclusions. My dog can walk very nicely on lead, but that's not what we do most of the time. The walk is a chance to stop and smell the roses for both of us. I use a 6 foot lead, and you will see my dog dash to a good smell (without pulling) and see me waiting patiently while my dog sniffs frequently. In my book, that's what a dog walk is all about.

Posted by: Alice R. | October 19, 2017 12:04 PM    Report this comment

My previous dog completely "got" Loose Leash Walking. This one, a (former wildchild) maltipoo, adopted age 2 yo, is another story. We have worked and worked on this, for 5 years. Yes, FIVE years. I've read and re-read WDJ articles and those from other trainers I respect (Sue Ailsby, Emily Larlham, Grisha Steward, Susan Garrett) and taken online classes from some of these same people. We walk every day and some days are better than others. We travel a lot and new environments are such a challenge. I've conditioned head halters (she still hates them), used an easy-walk harness (not any longer) and have settled down with a Balance Harness (recommended by WDJ) which we like very much. I allow plenty of time with sniff rewards at known marking spots. We have lots of playtime during the day and we walk 5 mi. daily, so we are well exercised. You name it, I've read it and if it's positive, very likely tried it. I'm not asking for "heel" just a slack leash. And that has sometimes proved very elusive!

Posted by: Carolyn M | October 19, 2017 11:50 AM    Report this comment

rspamp |:
Dogs will eat more than excrement!
Dog you really want your dog so far away from you in case he/she sticks their nose into something that could poison them ?
It's happened. Do a search and you educate yourself about the danger of retractable leads.

Posted by: Bonniebmw | October 19, 2017 11:12 AM    Report this comment

DreamWeaver |:
Reputable dog trainers are against using retractable leads.
Do a search and learn why!

Posted by: Bonniebmw | October 19, 2017 11:08 AM    Report this comment

Cheralyse:
Cities and counties have leash laws for a reason!

Posted by: Bonniebmw | October 19, 2017 11:06 AM    Report this comment

The primary reason that it is so difficult for people to teach a dog to walk on leash without pulling is because people are inconsistent. If the behavior is something that the dog really wants to do, it is more difficult to teach the dog not to do it. These same people cannot teach their dogs to stop jumping, for the same reason, inconsistency. I love the idea of teaching off leash walking, but for most, that is not an option.

Posted by: candeehope | October 19, 2017 10:57 AM    Report this comment

How lovely to have the luxury of a safe outdoor space to train your dog off leash. That would be my dream but it is not my reality. I do use a retractable lead and my dog is ten or twelve feet ahead of me at times, minding her own business and merrily sniffing along. Sniffing is good. She does not eat excrement. She is very social with other dogs and will pull in an effort to meet and greet. This is where I rein her in and have her sit next to me so that her exuberance does not result in twisted leashes or stepping on a four pound dog. Please understand that almost all dogs tug at times. This is not necessarily the sign of a failed relationship with its human. Your article is just a wee bit self righteous.

Posted by: rspamp | October 19, 2017 10:54 AM    Report this comment

Iíve always believed a walk with the dog was for the dog, not the human. Of course, some bad behaviors need work, like lunging at other dogs, barking at everyone!, etc. but the walk is for them, not me (although I do enjoy it). If they need to stop and sniff, check out something new, stare at a flock of birds, whatever, itís okay with me. We canít possibly walk fast enough for the running exercise they need. I am fortunate to have a big enough yard for them to tear around in, so itís mental stimulation that a walk provides. How boring would a walk be if we didnít stop and smell the roses, or even, sometimes, poop.

Posted by: MJC | October 19, 2017 10:48 AM    Report this comment

And Tank is 18 mos old so not a pup.

Posted by: Rod | October 19, 2017 10:45 AM    Report this comment

I obedience train all my dogs and fosters so pulling is not a problem. I adopted a Lab and Pit mix 8 weeks ago who lived in a backyard with 14 other relatives. He had never been on a leash or off the property until he, his litter brother and a younger female were turned over to my local shelter. They only walked them on a leash occasionally so he was given no other training. 6 weeks ago he started intermediate obedience classes and last night earned his AKC CGC title. There were several dogs there owned from puppyhood whose owners never bothered to train them and they pulled, twirled, barked and choked on their leashes just as badly on graduation night. You get the dog you traun, put in effort get results, be lazy get nothing.

Posted by: Rod | October 19, 2017 10:45 AM    Report this comment

Bonniebmw, my 10 year old Lab walks BEAUTIFULLY with a retractible leash, as did my Border Collie mix. When we see another dog, I simply retract the leash and lock it, so that he only has so much room to manuever.

The worst dog I've had for pulling was a 17 pound Spitz/Shetland Sheepdog mix who wasn't very well trained when I got him. That didn't last long, as I asked permission to train him from his owner (my then boyfriend). It took about a week of patient walking, choking up on the leash, but he responded well, and from then on, his pulling was not a problem.

Posted by: DreamWeaver | October 19, 2017 10:09 AM    Report this comment

I'm not sure I understand the tone or intent of this post. Of course it's difficult for people living in the city - we have absolutely no other choice than to walk our dogs on leash. It's a learning process that takes months of dedication to make small wins. Your own articles advocate this - even the ones you link to start with the simple concept of getting your dog to make eye contact with you (which is truly the best place to start). But this takes weeks and then constant practice after they "get it." The whole time we're working on eye contact all of the other terrible behaviors you're mentioning in this post are still happening because it's a time-intensive process. He's making eye contact but he's still reactive when other dogs cross our path (which happens ALL THE TIME in the city). I'd expect a little more empathy for those of us who don't have acres and acres of land to "practice walking off leash." If I waited for those moments my poor dog would only get walked once or twice a week when I have the time to drive an hour to a park that allows off leash hiking.

Posted by: stephanieY | October 19, 2017 10:00 AM    Report this comment

I have had many dogs in my life of all different breeds and sizes, as I generally have two or three rescue dogs at one time. I believe some of my dogs havent walked well on leash because I am a lousy trainer, or because I get them when they are already middle-aged and have ingrained habits.
Of my current three, my 30 pound terrier mix has always been a puller. He must be in front and he has a no-nonsense approach to walks. My pit mix (who was dumped at Pt. Isabel), has walked beautifully on leash from nine weeks of age without me pulling, tugging or encouraging.
Now on the other hand, the dog of my dreams, my four-year-old Chow Chow, likes to stroll, sniff, sit and wait for people to pet her and is the worst walker Iíve ever come across. She is stubborn and wants to do what she wants to do. I live across the street from the school so sheís always waiting for some child willing to stop and pet her. I always take her out by herself and we manage half a short walk while I take the other two around the block in around 10 minutes.

Posted by: RuthB | October 19, 2017 9:15 AM    Report this comment

Most people I see having a problem walking their dogs are using these DREADFUL retractable leads, NO reputable trainer recommends these leads.
Me and my Chihuahua were recently tangled in one of these leads when an owner
lost control of that lead and her Great Dane came running toward us. It was a very scary situation. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.
Two days later the owner once again lost control of the lead and the Great Dane and her other dog, also on a retractable lead came running across the street toward me and my Chihuahua. I screamed at her those leads are dangerous and she will have better control with shorter leads.
Retractable leads should be against the law.
No dog needs to be that far away from their owner when out in public. If the people who use these leads don't care about others they should at least consider the fact that dogs will stick their noses in some of the most gross things and sometimes even eat it and when their dog is far ahead of them they might not be able to stop this behavior!

Posted by: Bonniebmw | October 19, 2017 9:11 AM    Report this comment

Why is it difficult to walk with your dog on a leash???
Because it is completely unnatural! That's why. And I'm glad
dogs or any animal makes it difficult to be pulled and jerked at
a human's whim. It means they are not broken, their spirit is still intact.
We need more time and space to be sure our dogs can run free,
sniff where and when they want and interact with other dogs.
Too many people view their dogs as a flattering extension of
themselves or as moveable art. My first border collie taught me.
As I walked with him on-leash early in our history, he turned
around, looked me straight in the eye, then took his end of the
leash in his mouth and began to run at his chosen speed. I
couldn't stop laughing AND I "got it".

Posted by: cheralyse | October 19, 2017 8:58 AM    Report this comment

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