How To Stop Your Dog Pulling
December 10, 2020
Reactive Dog Walking

Professional Dog Trainer Edinburgh – How To Stop Your Dog Pulling

He Just Drags Me From One Lamp Post To The Next!
Its 7am and I am out walking Erick, who even at this early hour as I am yawning my head off he is alert and following his nose, dragging me along with him. Yep with Erick my 38kg Old English Sheepdog loves nothing more then putting his nose to the ground and lunging from one smell to the next, I am sighing loudly as he drags me along. You see Erick loves to sniff and while this happens he is deaf and blind to the rest of the world including me. Sound familiar?

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So How Do I Stop Him Pulling?

Anxious Dog Training Edinburgh –

First of all don’t think about the problem as ‘how do I stop my dog pulling’ think about it as ‘how do I get my dog to walk with me?’ By thinking this way it changes how we think about the problem its stops being a negative challenge and becomes a game!!
By thinking of training as a game it becomes fun for Erick and me too, if neither of us is having fun then training will just be an up hill battle…. Really who wants that!?!?
I want Erick to walk next to me when he is on the lead, So I am going to teach him that a tight lead gets him nowhere, while a slack lead gets him praise, treats and most importantly it will take him to the spot he wants to be. Nothing happens overnight so I set aside time each day to ‘play’ our training game in time everything will fall in to place.

Dog Games and Distraction Techniques

Whenever I start training a new game with my dogs I start out in my living room, because its quiet, lacking in distractions and in Erick’s case there aren’t any new smells for him to stick his nose in. So we learn in the living room and once he has nailed the game we practice in a quiet street or park.
The key here is it has minimal distractions (of course I let Erick have a good sniff around before we start any training), I take the game back to the beginning as though he is learning a brand new game and from Erick’s point of view it is a brand new game.

Why does Erick think it’s a new game? he has already mastered it in the living room, hasn’t he? To Erick he has learned the new game in the room with the sofas and TV, so for him, the game is played in the living room.
By taking him to a new location the game has been taught from the beginning because without the sofas and TV he doesn’t immediately understand what we’re doing. The good news is Erick will pick up the game quicker than in the living room because he is more familiar with what I want and he soon gets it!
We keep practicing in similar quiet locations so Erick becomes used to training around minimal distractions. If at any point Erick isn’t getting it or getting bored we take a break and go for a walk.

The Key To Success

Help With Reactive Dog Training Tips and Methods To Try

There are various ways and methods you can use to help your dog stop reacting and create positive associations with what triggers their reactive dog bad behaviour.

Once he is playing the game in low distraction areas then its time to start trying higher distraction areas. I Keep the practices sort and sweet and building up the time, I also keep changing the areas from low distractions to high distractions. The more I can play the game in different areas the quicker Erick will understand what I am asking him to do.
Soon Erick has learned that I want him to walk by my side on a loose lead and he does… happy days. Now just because he walking beside me doesn’t mean that we stop playing our training game, by still practicing the game I am ensuring that Erick doesn’t forget what I have taught him.
Its oh so easy to assume once we’ve taught our dogs to do something on cue that they will know it for life, they don’t we have to keep refreshing their memories! So matter what you teach your dog always practice it!!
You Can Play My Game Too.
I have written a 5 email series explaining exactly how have taught my dogs to walk on loose lead by my side. In a step by step guide you will soon have your dog walking by your side too. Simply click here to sign up!
Take Care and Let me know how you get on.Suzanne

Ally is my 18 month old, Old English Sheepdog and she is generally well behaved (I use generally very loosely!). Ally loves it when the Postman visits because new post means new things to shred to tiny tiny pieces and scatter them throughout out my flat.
I can’t begin to tell you how annoyed I am as I walk through the front door, my happiness at seeing both dogs with wagging tails is short lived by the sight of shredded paper. I know its Ally without a shadow of a doubt, its not just the post its any paper I leave within in reach she happily shreds. She doesn’t do it every day but even so I need to stop it happening.

A Bored Dog is a Destructive Dog!
Being a dog walker means Ally and Erick both get to join me on An Adventure Walk each day, so they are well exercised physically and mentally. But Ally clearly needs some extra mental stimulation to prevent her chewing up my post, magazines and general papers.
In this post I will share with you what you can do to help with your destructive dog and what I do with Ally.

Get A Dog Walker

If you are regularly returning home to a dog who has made it his mission to shred everything he can get his teeth into, then getting him out of the house is good option. Find a suitable dog walker – simple!! It should be a professional walker who can fulfill your dogs needs. I myself return all my dogs to their homes so they will sleep/rest until their owners come home. The reason I return sleepy dogs is due to my Group adventures being catered to the dogs needs and what suits them the best. Check out my blog post How To Pick A Dog Walker. Or if you’re able to ensure your dog gets a good long stimulating walk before you leave. Make it a walk that is more then just a walk around the block, take him further a field, let him sniff every blade of grass if he wants.
While on your walk keep your dog engaged with you make sure he is listening and responding to you. Play games with him, in short make the walk one that will tire him out, so when you leave he’ll just want to sleep.Sign up to my Practically Perfect Dog Training Emails Here

Mental Exercise Is Just As Good

Ok so maybe you don’t always have time to take a long walk to wear your dog out. But can always play games that require your dog to think and respond to you. Good mental stimulation can have the same tiring effect as long walks. My own dogs know the following commands Sit, Down, Stand and Paw to name a few. Now holding a treat I ask them to perform those commands in various and changing sequences then I choose when to give a treat. For example it might go like Sit, Down, Paw, Sit, Down, Stand, Paw – good boy and treat. Repeat the process. Do this for 10 minutes keep them guessing about what is coming next and when they’ll get the treat. They are having to keep thinking about what I am asking and then doing what I ask….. very tiring. If they are great at bringing you a toy on command then simply put all their toys on one side of the room. You go to the other side and ask them to hold/fetch/retrieve a toy. Give them a treat and tell to go and get another and so on.
How about hide and seek? Get your dog to wait in one room then go and hide in another room. Once hidden call your dog to find you, when they do give lots of praise, then repeat. I can’t play this game as my two Old English Sheepdogs love being next to me, I can’t even go to the bathroom alone!

The quintessential King of Kong. 4may08

Puzzle Toys

Kong toys are a dream for bored dogs with annoyed owners. I speak from experience on this my previous dog Flash used to bark the place down when ever I left him. I was advised to give a Kong toy with Peanut Butter smeared inside…. I won’t lie I was doubtful this would stop him barking…. it worked a treat first time and ever since. Flash had to really work hard at controlling the Kong to hold it still and get his tongue in so he could get every last bit of Peanut butter. This alone was enough to tire him out until I returned a few hours later. I can here some of you saying ‘Oh I have tried it and he doesn’t bother with the Kong any more’ The trick to using a Kong toy or something similar is your dog should only get this toy as you are leaving and it should be immediately taken back when you return even if they haven’t had all the treats. If they can only have this toy when you’re going out then it makes it exciting and special to the dog. You should only use high value treats inside… think of cheese, peanut butter, meat paste, dog treats that he only gets inside of the Kong and no where else. You also work on making it hard for the treats to simply fall out. Ally is now the proud users of the Kong Toys, a good puzzle toy will keep your dogs mind working by challenging them. A tired mind equals a tired body and one sleepy dog.

Snuffle Matt
A Snuffle Matt is something I have only recently started using and it is a dream come true as Ally loves it and it keeps her occupied while I am out. A snuffle matt is a rubber matt that has lots of fleece strips knotted through it, the knots create folds and gaps within the fleece.
When you come to give it to your dog sprinkle small treats over it, allow them to fall into all the gaps and get lost. Your dog now has to sniff them out then work out how to get them. Sniffing is a really relaxing exercise for our dogs to do, if they are stressed or just need to be occupied then get them sniffing.
As with the Kong Toys Ally only gets the Snuffle Matt when I am going out and I take it back up when I get home

What Next?
It is important to work out why your dog is being destructive in your absence is it boredom or is it anxiety causing him to act out. If you are not sure then it is best to speak to a dog trainer or behaviorist, make sure it is someone who uses positive methods and doesn’t cause pain or fear in your dog nor do they force your dog to do something.
Feel free to email me with any questions or your own solutions.
Take Care, Suzanne


Further Reading

How to Change Your Reactive Dogs Behaviour

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How To Help Your Reactive Dog

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Dynamic Dog Case Study: Brodie

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