One of the most common problems dog lovers have is a dog who pulls on the leash. It is difficult on both dog and dog walker–and dangerous as well.
Alecia Evans, the inventor of the Walk In Sync™ Humane Dog Walking and Training System, has successfully transformed hundreds of dogs over the last decade. She recommends using a harness instead of a collar to keep your dog and pup’s neck, throat and spine safe, provide your dog or pup with better body awareness and to help with issues like pulling on the leash.
Don’t miss our giveaway of a Walk In Sync Harness and Leash along with the home study course!
We’ve got Alecia’s advice on how to retrain your adult dog to stop pulling on the leash–and advice for new puppy owners, too!
How to retrain an adult dog to stop pulling on the leash
First, almost all dogs or pups that pull do so because they have been taught that pulling gets them to move forward, even if it is in small increments because they are dragging a human behind them.
Pulling means go forward and if it has worked for them in the past then they will continue doing it in the future unless you retrain them, more importantly until you train yourself to stay consistent on the walk and not allow them pull you.
The best way I have found without having to choke the dog or cause them pain is to use a harness that clips at the front, along with a leash that has handles on it to help you be very specific about your hand placement so that you create clear consistent boundaries with your dog and are able to set new rules.
The new rules for dog walking are:
1. You pull, we stop.
2. We don’t move until you back up. Have patience here and don’t correct the dog allow the dog to correct themselves to back off of pressure).
3. When you back up (pat and praise), we can go forward.
Three easy steps, clearly communicated, from a calm, leadership standpoint will help any dog rebalance their behavior.
For super invested pullers, I suggest using a treat that motivates the dog to pay closer attention. This makes it less of a struggle to regain leadership.
Also, convicted pullers have usually been at it for so long that they do not often feel the discomfort of choking. In this case you will need to move the dog around more and direct their feet with yours making them pay more attention to where your feet are and thus more attention to you.
An easy way to make your dog pay attention on your walk:
I suggest walking like a drunk person in circles, cutting straight in front of them and making quick turns without telling them.
If they walk in front of you, stop.
If they go behind you, keep walking, and they will choose to keep up which will have them walking in sync with you in just minutes.
Your job is to be calm, confident and clear and treat when you are getting the behavior you desire.
What’s the best way to leash train a puppy?
Leash training should begin as soon as possible even just around the house.
The greatest suggestion I can make is to make sure that you work with a harness on your puppy to attach the leash.
Your puppy’s neck is very delicate and yanking on it with a traditional collar can cause unseen damage by causing neck vertebrae to become misaligned which could lead to other health challenges that you might not relate to this vertebral imbalance early on; it can also cause soft tissue or cartilage damage that you may not be aware of.
I always suggest keeping a collar on your dog because it is what holds his/her tags but I do not recommend using a collar to train or walk your pup.
Harnesses are safer, provide your pup with much better body awareness and just make more common sense.
Think about it: Would you put any of the tools, even a flat collar , not to mention a metal choke chain, a metal prong collar, a nose halter or a shock collar around your or your child’s neck and allow them to choke themselves and think for one second that they would be able to think clearly and be happy about being choked and want to actively participate in that? So then why do we do that to our dogs?
Temple Grandin, from her book, Animals In Translation, says, “The single worst thing you can do to an animal emotionally is the make it feel afraid…Animals feel intense fear when they are threatened in any way, regardless of whether they’re predators or prey.”
If you had a metal choke chain popped on your throat, do you think you might feel afraid? Or if you have metal prongs sticking into your neck or a shock give to you, would you think it might cause you a bit of fear?
Then please imaging for a moment what your sweet puppy may feel and use a harness and leash training system that will help you help them easily and consistently.
What is the biggest training challenge for most dog families?
The biggest training challenge for any dog family is consistency. Consistency of leadership is what produces consistency of a dog.
What most people forget is that dogs are the best trainers and raisers of dogs. Humans try to be good but we are at a deficit because we speak different languages. And while dogs are so accommodating to us to learn what we need from them, rarely do we try to accommodate them by learning the silence of their language.
A puppy will be trained 24/7 by his mom, dad and pack as they teach them how to survive. Dogs love based on respect.
Humans on the other hand work off of emotion rather than instinct so we try to have the puppy love us before it respects us and we do so at broken up intervals that are not consistent and this is where problems start.
So the biggest challenge is teaching humans how to be consistent trainers like dogs. We as humans tend to look at training as an activity, where dogs look at training and socialization as a way of life. It is because of looking at it as an activity rather than a lifestyle that we fail our dogs.
What makes Walk In Sync different from other kinds of harnesses?
Walk In Sync™ differs from other harnesses in the following ways:
1. Walk In Sync™ is a system which includes a harness and leash that work together to stop pulling and train your dog to easily master walking on leash in just minutes.
A harness alone is great to stop choking your dog but it won’t help you train your dog. You want a leash and harness that work together and a harness that clips at the front to ensure easy, safe and effective training in minutes.
2. The design of Walk In Sync™ is biomechanically correct with our buckles on top and shaped so that your dog cannot escape from it.
Most other front clip harnesses are cut in a way that has the shoulder straps going straight across the dogs shoulder and limits the dogs shoulder stride. This can cause muscle imbalances and interfere with your dog’s gait, especially puppies. Most other front clip harnesses also clip under the front leg with a big buckle that sits right behind the dogs legs and often rubs the back of the leg raw. Many owners have complained that their dog escaped from the other front clip harnesses.
3. The Accu-Grip™ Leash is the most biomechanically correct leash for your arm and will avoid shoulder or wrist strain injuries.
I recently found out from a friend who had to go to physical therapy that the second most commonly treated injury Physical Therapists see is: shoulder strains related to dog pulls.
4. The comfort handles on the Accu-Grip™ Leash will ensure that you never experience “leash burn” again.
Have you ever had a nylon leash rip through your hand and your dog pulled away in another direction? I have once and it is not fun.
5. The Walk In Sync™ Harness has two leash clip positions making it easy for you to train your dog by clipping at the front and when done training clip your dog at the top for walking.
By placing the clip in front of the dog, when the dog bumps into the end of the amount of leash you have given him/her, he/she will choose to back up and move off of pressure because it is in front of them. When a harness or leash is clipped at the back, the dog has the ability to use the power of their front legs to dig in and try to pull away from pressure.
6. Walk In Sync™ is a calm, quiet way to connect and communicate with your dog in a language of clear boundaries and silence which is closer to the natural language of your dog. In seconds, the tools you are using will transform you into the calm, effective leader your dog has been begging you to be.
How did you come to invent Walk In Sync?
I have lived with and loved dogs all my life. My training background started a fitness trainer for humans helping people reach their health and fitness goals.
In my early 20s, I adopted a Chocolate Lab named Barney (think Marley’s younger brother). As I was not a dog trainer, training Barney was a total challenge. The trainers I worked with told me to continue using training tools that were harsher and harsher: choke chain, prong collar, nose Halti and shock collar, none of it seemed right to me.
Barney’s issue wasn’t that he was a bad dog, the issue was that I was using the wrong tools to use to train him.
I had been reading a book on dog training by Linda Tellington Jones and in it Linda mentioned that sometimes dogs lose their connection to their body, this had never occurred to me before.
She suggested wrapping the leash around the dog which changed Barney’s awareness in seconds, instead of pulling me he stood still and just looked at me and he shaped his pace to mine. It was instant and amazing but not at all possible to walk down the street with him.
In that instant I made Barney a promise that I would find a way to train dogs completely humanely and with total respect for the dogs/puppy’s body so that no dog would need to be choked again in the training process.
Fast forward 14 years, and I have been professionally training dogs for 6 years and still am looking for a way to train them without choking them.
I was introduced to front clip harnesses and fell in love with the ease and effectiveness of them.
I was also a canine massage therapist and while I loved the harnesses I began noticing that I was not happy with the fit as it was cutting across the dogs and pups shoulders, the buckle was chafing their back leg and from a biomechanical standpoint this was not acceptable to me.
So I starting asking myself and the universe, “What else is possible in being able to create a training system that offers tools that are biomechanically correct for the dog, will never choke them, will be easy for their people to use and work with consistently, will improve clear communication between human and dog and works so well it will feel like the dog trained itself?”
The vision for Walk In Sync™ came to me one day and I began developing the prototype two weeks later. It has been a steady climb doing research and development with over 1000 dogs to make sure I have produced the best fitting, most effective, and totally humane walking and training system that can be used with any dog, any time, any age.
The main mission of Walk In Sync™ is to raise the bar on all training tools making them totally humane (pain free and choke free) for all dogs and puppies. It is time for us to take a more critical look at using anything around a dogs’ neck to train them and the potential harm that we could be causing their neck, throat and spine.