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My dog understands that when he pulls we stop and he comes and sits by my side. But then he pulls right after that and then will come to me. So he knows what to respond with when I stop him from pulling, but he still pulls. Again. He stops and will redirect himself the second I stop, but the second we start moving again he is pulling.

I have tried and tried to train him. He is smart so he really understands commands and understand when I stop him he needs to come to my side but that this will happen every time the leash is tight is a foreign concept to him. I am very consistent, hence the reason he knows what to do the second I stop, but it isn't helping, we just stop about every 1-2 ft.

I also try to bring him on many short walks so that we can really focus on training. Also he is great at playing fetch so before many walks I play fetch with him to tire him out, but he still really wants to pull.

  • I have a similar problem. My opinion is that it can be improved by further training. How old is your dog? I suppose he's not a very young puppy now as he understands that you don't praise pulling, however he's not old enough to control his out-of-doors excitement. – Igor Soloydenko Jan 26 '15 at 10:42
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I walk difficult dogs (untrained and usually why they are there!) at the local shelter and I use an easy walk harness. They become completely different dogs using this harness.

Sometimes I think the old leash and collar around the neck method of walking is not the best way or safest way of walking our dogs since it can cause injury to the trachea and dogs that pull, tend to pull even more if they feel the pressure on the neck is harmful to them. it is a fear response to get away from the pressure on their neck. There are also dogs that like to be in control and more alpha than you.

I have an Australian Shepherd that thinks she is the boss and many times she does decide where we go with behavior only because I trust her judgement and we have a very strong bond BUT she is NOT allowed to control a walk. She really does not LIKE the harness but it is necessary to keep us both safe.

Hope this helps. I have also tried the gentle leader but I think this is reserved for very difficult dogs. Try the Easy Walk harness first.

  • I have bought one of these 'Easy Walk' harnesses (based on your recommendation here!) and couldn't believe the difference. I have a Springer Spaniel who is mental on the lead. She will heel when I have treat, but as soon as the treat is given she tugs my arm off. But This morning I tried this harness and it was COMPLETELY different. As soon as there is tension she looks back at me and stays close. Normally the morning walk to the woods is stressful as I'm constantly trying to get her to heel, but this morning it was just enjoyable! – David Masters Mar 2 '15 at 9:19
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Bring treats along with you during your walk. When you start walking again after a stop, if your dog is still by your side say 'yes' (or whatever positive encouragement thing he knows) and give him a treat. At first you'll have to check after only a couple steps, but soon you'll be able to check in less frequently.

If he starts to walk too far ahead try something to get his attention... I usually click my tongue or say 'closer' to my dog (really anything to get her attention to she'll slow down to see what i want). If your dog continues forward and pulls, just keep doing what you guys have been doing with and ask him to come beside. If your dog slows up or looks back at you, then praise the dog again and give him a treat.

Eventually the dog sees that staying close to you is when he gets treats, and you can taper off how often you give them as the dog gets used to it. (I've been working this process with my dog for about 3 weeks, and now I only reward her every half block or so).

One thing that's sped up my process is rewarding my dog for looking at me while we're walking because that's the skill the dog ultimately needs to maintain a slack leash at variable walking speeds.

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    I have been trying this with my Springer Spaniel, using the "heel" command. When I have her attention with a treat, she'll walk beside me for pretty much as long as I have the treat. But, as soon as I give her the treat, she makes a dash for it almost yanking my arm off! Then I have to repeat the process – David Masters Feb 25 '15 at 9:51
  • My dog was that way too for a while. Eventually she got the idea (after about a month). I think the trick is for her to not see your treat prior to when you give it to her. Another thing a trainer suggested to help me was to take 3 steps back when my dog pulls rather than just stopping, because it's more obviously a negative. – Veg Feb 26 '15 at 21:48
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There are two tips from my side:

Be careful with the timing:

Stop immediatly when the dog is getting faster, before he pulls. The dog has to have the same speed as you. It is possible that at first you just can do one step until you have to stop again, but your dog will learn it, if you are consistent.

Increase the negative impression:

As Veg stated in the comment, it can be more impressive for a dog, if you take steps back. I trained it not by taking steps back, but I turned around, which had the same effect.

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