My dog weighs as much as I do, so when she started dragging me around on our walks I had to do something immediately to keep us both safe. You can teach your dog to walk comfortably by your side on-leash without a choke collar, and here’s how to do it.
First of all, get a shorter leash. You can buy leashes that are 2 feet long at your local pet store or Wal-Mart. I got mine at the dollar store (score!). A shorter leash keeps your dog immediately at your side and takes away their pulling ability. Also, it increases your ability to correct pulling more effectively and quickly. When your dog starts pulling (even slightly) immediately say “heel!” in a stern voice, giving the leash a slight tug (not a snap, this will choke and startle the dog) stop walking and wait a few seconds to resume walking. Turn in the opposite direction (this gets your dog’s attention) and when they pull again (ever so slightly) repeat the command and tug, stop walking, wait a few seconds, and turn around and walk the opposite way again.
This works by making the dog alert to their pulling behavior. They learn quickly that heel means stay close, and that you will stop walking and interrupt the walk when they pull. Consistency is key, and you should only have to do this a few times to get the walk going without pulling. Don’t use “no” as a command, as no means everything. It has to be a command related to what you are doing. Dogs pull the most at the beginning of a walk, so you will be using the training method most often then.
When your dog graduates from the short leash or having a short leash to keep them close irritates your back (tall people can have issues with a 2-foot leash) you van modify a longer leash by tying knots in it in varying intervals to hold onto when necessary to shorten your dog’s lead on you. My dog leash has 3 knots that I can use to vary her leash freedom length.
Another useful dog pulling tool, especially for puppies, is taking their regular leash and instead of walking them with the leash above the neck, hold the leash under the neck and under the right armpit of the dog so when they pull it strains their neck and irritates their armpit. Your dog will automatically stop to correct the pulling discomfort, and has the same effect of a choke collar (which chokes the dog when they pull, making them stop straining at their lead) without harming your dog. It’s excellent for puppies in that they correct their own discomfort. Once again, apply “heel” commands when they pull and correct their behavior themselves so they know what the command means. When your dog stops pulling on their own, change the position of the leash back to above the neck, and if they pull again, loop it under the pit again. Don’t yank on the leash when it’s under the armpit because this will drag their head down and can make them trip and somersault over themselves. This technique is more for allowing your dog to recognize their own discomfort when pulling and correct it on their own rather than for you to interfere other than supplying the appropriate command.
These dog-walking tips, used diligently, can correct dog pulling behavior in as little as one walk, but can take up to a week. Keep up with it though, and both you and your canine will be greatly rewarded with walking comfort for all.