A dog’s natural instinct is to pull in the direction they want to go, they pick up a scent and they want to investigate that and the environment around that scent, and unfortunately to our dog’s we humans are just a tad to slow!
To a dog, wearing a collar around its neck and being attached to a human through a lead is not natural for them.
Knowing how to walk a dog that is stronger than you takes a lot of patience, persistence, and training as we ideally want them walking on a loose leash which is a complex skill and something I have been doing for well over 20 years with my clients and their dogs.
We all know that dogs come in many different shapes, sizes, and strengths, so owning a dog that is stronger than you are can be a nightmare when taking them out for a walk.
How many times have you seen that poor owner being walked by the dog rather than the other way around.
So, How Do You Walk a Dog That Is Stronger Than You?
If your dog is stronger than you the most important thing is to make sure they are well-trained and listen to your commands in any situation
All dogs can have the tendency to misbehave at certain times and it is very important that you start training them early on how to ignore these distractions.
Here are a few steps you can put in place to prepare you and your dog for those future walks.
- When starting out always stay focused on your dog’s behavior. It is amazing what signs you can pick up and how you will learn to associate those with certain behavioral moves.
- Always use positive reinforcement when training your dog to walk beside you on a leash and ignore distractions. These could be treats or a quick tug-o-war with their favorite toy.
- Learn to use the command heel when walking with your dog, and again use the reward system when he is obeying this command.
- Start early with the basic commands (Sit, Stay, Come, Down) and reward. It will amaze you how quickly your dog will associate obeying commands with being rewarded.
- Use friends and family when training your dog to ignore distractions.
All the above will help kick start the walking on a loose lead and make it easy to walk your dog no matter how strong your dog is.
How To Train Your Dog to Heel
Many dog owners associate the command heel with a dog walking next to you on a very short tight lead.
A correct heel for your dog is when they are walking by your side with a loose lead.
There are a variety of ways that can train this.
It could be by the way of treats, possibly praising them through voice only when they are not pulling, you can change your direction as soon as they pull or stop watching you (A method I have a lot of success with when training client’s dogs)
I understand that not everyone has the time, ability, and patience to train their dogs with these methods, however there are also certain types of collars and harnesses that can help and will ensure you are not dragged down the street every time you take your dog out on a walk.
If you decide to use a harness you will need to either get one that is designed to pull the head to one side or one that squeezes their middle every time they pull.
Dogs are very smart and rational animals so if them pulling forward results in discomfort for them they will do it less and less.
Another method I have found very successful over the past few years is training with the Educator E Collar and while a lot of people initially think of the Educator E Collar as an electric shock collar it is in fact simply a pulse or stimulation that makes your dog feel uncomfortable.
I have written an entire article on the Educator E Collar which I encourage you to read as it is in my opinion the best training collar on the market today and has an extremely high success rate when it comes to training your dog to walk on a loose leash.
Why Are Retractable Leashes Bad?
As a dog trainer and from a training point of view flexi leads or retractable leashes are bad!
What these retractable leashes are actually doing is training your dog to pull, because to them every time they pull, guess what? They are rewarded for this behavior with more leash.
I will never forget the time I was out walking my dogs and seeing an elderly lady with one of these retractable leashes on what was a fairly well-behaved German Shepard.
We had stopped for a chat when all of a sudden, her dog had spotted a cat further up the footpath.
I remember hearing the leash spin out and before I could do anything her dog had hit the end while her German Shepard had just about hit full speed.
The sudden jolt had whipped this women’s head back and it was just lucky she didn’t have her hand through the loop otherwise I am sure she would have been dragged up the pathway.
Even so she ended up with months of physiotherapy on her neck.
This did come with a happy ending though, as I offered to do some training with her beautiful dog, and with the aid of a training collar she is now very comfortable and obedient with loose leash walking.
How To Walk a Dog That Is Stronger Than You Takes Time?
Training your dog to stop pulling and walk on a loose leash takes time.
If you really want to train your dog to walk on a loose leash without using force or prong collars which is very important if your dog is stronger than you.
And if you are looking to be able to walk your dog past all kinds of distractions (cats, other dogs, kids playing etc.) then you need to know this won’t be achieved over a few days.
You will need to be consistent with your training and with a concerted effort you will still be looking at several weeks before your dog will get the whole walking on a loose leash concept.
There Is Heel Time and Free Time on A Leash
If your end goal is to teach your dog not to pull, rather than relying permanently on harnesses or collars then you need to make sure that you don’t get into the habit of sending out mixed signals. Something that is extremely important if your harness or training collar has not completely stopped the pulling.
By this I mean you don’t want your dog to be confused about when to heel and when they are OK to go and sniff around. Remember them sniffing around during their walk is like us reading the newspaper, that is their way of seeing (Or smelling) what’s happened in the area today!
With my dogs I have a clear signal I give them both when walking on a leash.
Obviously if I want them walking at my side, I will give them the command “HEEL”
If I want to give them the freedom to see what’s happened in the area today, they get the command “FREE” which means they get to go in the direction they want, and I follow (Still not allowing them to pull).
This Leads to Our Conclusion
I really do hope that you give loose leash training a go.
As a dog trainer for over 30 years, I can tell you now its not the easiest thing you will teach your dog, but I can guarantee you it will be the most rewarding and worthwhile thing you will ever feel.
The feeling you get when you walk down the street with your dog at your side, nothing distracting them, is the best feeling in the world.
Trust me loose leash training really isn’t as hard as you think it is.
You can also ask any questions in our comments box below and I will make sure I get back to you with the answers.
As we always say at Our Dogs World 101, “May Your Home Be Filled With Love And Dog Hair”
Founder of Our Dogs World 101