|Problem: Many dogs pull on leash. Solution: Teach the dog to walk on a loose leash.
Discussion: Pulling on leash is a long-established problem. Many dogs pull on leash. Many
trainers have lots of great ways of teaching dogs not to pull on leash. Some dogs persist in
pulling on leash after we have exhausted the positive methods of teaching dogs not to pull.
Listed below are the many ways that Joel Walton recommends you teach your dog to walk on a
loose leash. (NOTE: Please carefully read and implement all of the positive methods before you
attempt to use the Leash Belt Technique which I introduced to dog trainers on July 9th 2002. To
the best of Joel’s knowledge, he developed this technique. He has been using this on many
dogs for the last couple of years. Update 8/31/2002: Frances Dauster, CPDT referred me to
Urban Dog by Cis Frankel which has a great picture of a leash used in the manner I recommend
on page 87. Thanks Frances! (Note added July 29th: For pet owners: I submitted this
information to 700 plus dog trainers and so far have found a few trainers who have been using
a leash in this manner. I have not had any negative comments towards this use of the leash
(Altho, I suspect there will be some (smile)). For pet dog trainers: Please feel free to send me
any reference to this technique in a published book or published on a website before July 9th
2002. I agree with Dr Ian Dunbar when he says 'there is nothing new under the sun'. As noted
above, this technique is described and illustrated in The Urban Dog by Cis Frankel. The
purpose of this article is to help pet dog owners with their dogs that are pulling on leash. Please
feel free to carefully use this technique if you think it will help your student/client.) If you need to
learn how to use any of the following four methods, please read Positive Puppy Training Works
by Joel Walton (available from JoelWalton.com and knowledgeable purveyors of positive puppy
dog training books).
1. The Simply Observe And Reward (SOAR) Method. Walk your dog on a six-foot leash in your
yard or another area with minimal distractions. Whenever your puppy dog is next to you, reach
down and give her one piece of her dry kibble.
2. The Zen Method. If the leash is loose, walk. If the leash is tight, become a tree.
3. The Simply Train And Reward (STAR) Method. With your puppy dog sitting in the heel
position (on your left side with her collar next to the seam in your pants), say: “Billie, heel.” Step
off on your left foot and reach down with your left hand and give her one piece of dry kibble,
after you say “good heel.” Continue to build up distance and add turns as she improves in her
ability to heel next to you. (NOTE: After many years of experimenting with loose-leash walking, it
is apparent that having the dog heel is a great way to prevent pulling on leash!)
4. The Clicker Method. If you do not achieve results soon enough with the first three methods or
if you are an experienced clicker trainer, do the following: a. Use the SOAR method, clicking
when your puppy dog is in the heel position and rewarding with one piece of dry kibble. b. Use
the STAR method, replacing the “good heel” with a click. NOTE: Many dogs seem to respond to
the unique sound of the clicker after not responding to verbal requests and verbal praise.
5. Leash Belt Technique. With your puppy dog sitting on your left side, attach your six-foot
leash to your puppy dog’s buckle collar, placing the end of the leash around your dog’s middle
and then gently pulling the end of the leash through the leash loop you have created. Start
using the four methods above to teach your puppy dog. It is important to understand that the
Leash Belt Technique is to prevent your dog from pulling so hard that you are pulled down. It
does NOT take the place of training. My experience over the past couple of years is that dog’s
that pull hard, do not pull as hard when they have the leash around their middle. This is a
management technique that may also have some benefit in teaching the dog that loose-leash
walking works best! If your dog pulls very hard, stop using the Leash Belt Technique! The idea
is not to create pain or discomfort. Because your dog is feeling something unique, she will stop
pulling long enough for her to realize that you are very rewarding when she is on a loose leash.
Please consult your veterinarian before using this technique so that you are sure that you will
cause no harm. Copyright July 2002 Walton Family Dog Training LLC
6. Wayne Hightower, CPDT has a tool called the Freedom Harness which can help prevent your
dog from pulling hard while you train your dog to walk on a loose leash or to heel.