It’s something many dog parents can relate to. You’re walking your pup and they’re being really calm and well-behaved. And then they see another dog, and all of sudden they’re pulling on their leash, trying to drag you every which way in a bid to say hello to this new friend.
If this is a scenario you’re familiar with, however, there are things you can try to keep your dog calm when you encounter another canine. And Julianna DeWillems, an expert trainer and the founder of JW Dog Training & Behavior, has offered some advice in a new Instagram post. It involves grabbing some of the best dog treats, so make sure you’re stocked up!
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“When we notice the other dog,” begins DeWillems, “We gather up our leash and move close to our dog, cueing engagement with us. While we’ve adjusted to a closer grip, we still want to keep the leash loose to avoid adding extra tension.”
But, if you want to know how to stop a dog pulling on a leash itself when they see another dog, she recommends grabbing a fistful of treats and putting them right on your dog’s nose, almost like a magnet, with the aim of keeping your pup’s attention on the treats while you pass the other dog.
In the video, the dog being walked past other dogs with this technique is able to do so without showing any interest in them. While he can hear and smell them, he’s able to tap into a skill he’s familiar with – following a treat lure.
Practice this with your pup and your walks with them are likely to not only be more enjoyable but safer, too. You’ll reduce the risk of injury to yourself if your dog pulls, and your dog keeping their distance from other dogs could mean there’s less chance of them interacting with pups who aren’t feeling quite so friendly.
And remember to keep persevering! DeWillems says, “What’s most important when utilizing this training skill is practicing it over and over again before needing it around a distraction! This helps build muscle memory for you and your dog. We’ll use this with dogs who are over-excited on leash, and even some dogs who are leash reactive.”
She also explains that she’ll often put dogs in harnesses on walks, but says that the dog in the video is more body-sensitive than most canines, and so is wearing a comfortable flat collar rather than a harness.
If you find yourself getting frustrated by your dog’s leash-pulling habits, you might find this story helpful: My dog’s leash pulling made walks miserable until I helped her reactivity, here’s how.
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Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.