When your Dog Walks You

brindle and white pit bull type dog pulling hard on a leash, with his female walker squatting and bracing herself against the dogs pulling

Is your dog SO EXCITED to go for a walk that they walk you?

Lots of dog guardians are experiencing the same thing - especially the lucky ones who’ve decided to adopt a shelter dog who may not have had much leash training.

If you’re tired of your hands hurting, exhausted from your pups constant pulling, and ready to give up on walks all together - there’s help for you! Here are tips, techniques, and equipment that can give you a bit of a break while you work on training loose leash walking.

How to Manage your Dogs Pulling

The only ethical way to stop dogs from pulling is TRAINING. Not punishment, not tools that cause pain or restrict their movement - those don’t change the reasons your dog pulls.


And while we’re working on training, there are things that we can do to help reduce the pulling and the impact that pulling has on our bodies.

We don’t want to reduce or eliminate walks altogether either - for many dogs that love their walks, this actually can increase their intensity during a walk and make the situation even more challenging. 

I know that I experience this frequently, even with years of training my dog will still pull if he’s had too many shortened walks due to bad weather, time constraints, or when I’m just not feeling up to our longer walks. It’s almost like his contained energy is all building up and then spilling over during his next walk, and he pulls even more than normal. He’s also more likely to chase bunnies and squirrels and less likely to listen to his cues.

Positive Reinforcement Training

Looking for information and videos on Loose Leash Walking? I like to follow this Facebook group and explore their collection of free resources: 

Why I like a Waist Belt Leash

I reduce the strain in my hands from all the pulling by relying on a waist belt to be the “anchor” for my leash, that way I can “tap the brakes” with my hands but the belt is my “emergency brake”. My center of gravity can take 85lbs of force much easier than my hands do!

One of the primary reasons I love the leash belt system is that I can switch out my leash for the type of walk that Rowan and I are going to do. I’m lucky enough to live 2 blocks from hiking trails, and do about half of our walks there using a 15’ adjustable long line. This allows me to lengthen and shorten the leash as needed for trail conditions, or when I’m cutting through the neighborhood on the way home. This length gives my dog lots of range to do all his sniffing while allowing me to easily shorten the leash if we encounter deer or coyotes - two of his biggest triggers!

I also like a slightly longer leash at 8’ for our neighborhood walks, this gives him a bit more room to sniff & pee with less pulling, and using the braided paracord style of leash also allows me to double it back and turn it into a 4’ leash for the trips to the hardware store. This is also clipped to a waist belt, which carries my treats, waste bags, and my “waste removal system”.

Have you asked yourself: Why does my dog pull?

The first key to determining which leash may be appropriate for you is to identify reasons WHY your dog pulls. 

One of the primary reasons for dogs to pull is the drive to track down a scent or to chase a critter.

Scent tracking and prey chasing is part of Rowan’s mixed breed makeup, and something that he loves to do! He is able to air scent and ground scent, which can make for some interesting and challenging walks when we run across fresh game trails. Having a longer line while still have him securely fastened to my waist belt allows me to give him the freedom to track while keeping him secure and the local wildlife safe from his “chase brain”...

Here is a recommended (and free) scent game workshop by Susan Clothier:.

Or if your dog loves the stalk and chase, check out Predation Substitute Training for some great resources!

What if I have a “Stubborn” Dog?

Another challenging dog behavior is the dog who wants to choose their own walking route - and they may be pulling you to get there because their motivation is different from yours. They aren’t “stubborn”, they are just looking to fulfill their own needs, and you may just not have fully developed a cooperative working relationship with them yet.

My question to you is - is it your walk, or theirs? 

Giving your pup some choice in their walking route can actually be very interesting over time. I like to give Rowan as much freedom (within reason…) to choose our route, and find it interesting that he likes to do each of our standard routes about once a week. When I first started giving him the freedom to choose, he actually preferred to walk some of the routes in reverse too. He’s also much happier to follow me when I’m directing the turns because we’ve turned our walks into a partnership.

Try giving your dog some freedom of choice in their walks and see if it results in less pulling?

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