A german shepherd pulling on their leash can be problematic. If you’re not strong enough to stop them, then they may end up taking YOU for a walk, not the other way round. That’s why it’s essential that you teach your german shepherd how to walk properly.
If you don’t get leash pulling under control then your german shepherd may begin to think they’re in charge. Not only this, but it can often be hard to restrain them when they’re pulling as hard as they can. Without a proper lack of constraint, they could put you or themselves in danger.
So Why Is Your German Shepherd Pulling On Their Leash?
There are a number of different reasons your german shepherd may pull on their leash. Before training your german shepherd it can often help to know the reason behind pulling. Once you know the reasons you can get a better idea of your german shepherds mindset. This, in turn, can also help you uncover other behavioral issues.
They’ve Never Been Taught Not Too
The number one reason your dog is pulling on their leash is probably because they’ve never been taught not too. If you haven’t trained your german shepherd not to pull, then they’re simply doing what comes naturally to them.
When your German shepherd is constantly pulling on their leash without being corrected, then they may simply begin to assume that’s the way a leash is supposed to be. They won’t be aware that it’s meant to hang in a loose fashion.
There’s A Lot Going On Around Them
While not being trained is the main reason your german shepherd pulls. That doesn’t mean there aren’t smaller reasons that contribute to it.
Another reason is that there’s so much going on in your german shepherds head. Not only are there other dogs that may get their attention but there are people as well. There are also sounds and smells that you can’t even sense but they can.
These sounds and smells are extremely enticing to them, so it’s no wonder they begin to pull.
And sometimes it’s just instinct. If you’ve ever walked an untrained dog, the moment they see a cat, you’ve got a real struggle to keep them at bay.
They’re A Lot Quicker Than You Are
When you take your german shepherd somewhere you can let them off the leash, you’ll get a true picture of how quick they are. You’d have high hopes ever trying to keep up with them in a race.
So when they’re pulling, it’s because they want to go as fast as they can. In their head, you’re going too slow.
How Do You Stop A German Shepherd Pulling On Their Leash?
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to stop a german shepherd pulling on their leash. And if the first way doesn’t work, then don’t be afraid to try another way.
Just remember, that the key to stopping your german shepherd pulling on their leash is good training.
Before using training methods here are some useful tips to remember:
Make Sure They’ve Been Taught Core Fundamentals
If your German shepherd isn’t walking correctly, then the chances are the core fundamentals haven’t been taught to them.
For example, a man I used to walk my dog with always had a german shepherd who was brimming with energy.
At first, this wasn’t a problem, the man could handle him, so when he pulled and refused to listen to commands, the man was still able to control him.
However, one day the man’s son was walking the dog. The son wasn’t nearly as strong and ended up getting pulled across the floor. No matter how many times the boy said no.
Apart from a few bruises, the boy was fine, however, it underlined the fact that the dog had not been taught the core fundamentals.
If he had been taught them, he would have known that not only should he not pull on the leash, but that he needed to restrain himself and to listen to the command ‘no’.
Fortunately, it’s not hard to teach your dog this. In fact, all you need is the right training program. I’d recommend Brain Training For Dogs.
Use A Dog Harness/Headcollar
If your German shepherd is constantly pulling on their leash then using a dog harness or head collar is going to help you restrain them.
Dog harnesses are better for someone who’s stronger as they still require a lot of user strength. However, the good news is they are far less likely to damage your german shepherd. When a german shepherd pulls, normally their collar can often cause damage to their neck and throat.
If you’re not sure you can handle your dog pulling at full strength, then a head collar is a much better option. Headcollars leverage your german shepherd’s strength against them. When they try pulling, the headcollar forces their head up. (However, once again it’s not going to harm them.)
Both are great choices for making sure your dog walks safely and with ease. If you’re thinking about getting a harness or head collar then you should definitely check out the Best Leashes For German Shepherds That Pull!
Exercise Them Before The Walk
It may sound counter-intuitive to exercise your dog before their walk, however, it does have some helpful effects.
First of all, what you need to understand is that if you’re walking your german shepherd on a leash every day, they’re probably not getting enough exercise. (However, it’s still important you do it so they can learn to socialize.)
German shepherds need to be able to run to truly tire them out, and if you’re not letting them run or exercise in some other way, then it’s no wonder they’re going to be energetic on your walk.
Exercising them beforehand does two things. First of all, it expends energy, so they’ll already feel tired before they even walk. Second of all, when they’ve been exercised they’re going to be able to listen to you a lot better.
You can exercise your german shepherd by playing games with them such as fetch and tug of war!
What Are The Different Methods You Can Use?
There are a number of different methods you can use to stop your german shepherd from pulling on their leash. Thankfully, of all them are effective, and you should choose one based on your own personal preference.
However, with that being said, if your dog really isn’t responding to one, then there’s nothing wrong with moving on to the next method.
Relaxed Walking Method
This method is a great passive way of getting your german shepherd to stop pulling on their leash. Not only is it going to help your german shepherd stay peaceful, but it can often get you into a peaceful mindset as well.
Start, by thinking of the route you plan on taking your german shepherd. Make sure it’s a route you’re familiar with, and choose a quiet route where there isn’t a lot of external stimuli. You’re only here to teach your german shepherd to stay calm. You can move on to busier places later.
Once you’ve picked your route, begin getting your pup ready for a walk. When you’re getting ready make sure they’re sitting patiently for you. If they begin acting up and being pushy, then stop what you’re doing and wait for them to calm down.
If they continue to be energetic then move away from the door and wait for them to calm down. Remember, the whole time you’re doing this, keep yourself and your voice nice and relaxed.
Once you’re both in a relaxed state, begin your planned route. Here’s where the bulk of the training is going to happen.
Walk your dog as normal, however, every time the leash begins to become tight or they pull. Stop walking completely. Don’t pull them back, just stop walking. And stay like this no matter how hard they pull.
They’ll soon, stop pulling and come back to your side. When they do this, you can continue walking as you were. This shows your german shepherd that you’re the leader not them, and you’ll walk when you choose to walk, not when they want to.
Teach Them To Respond To Their Name Being Called
Another great method is to get them to respond to you calling their name. To do this you have to start by training them when you’re in your home.
Make a habit of calling them when they aren’t near you. When they come to you, give them a treat and lots of affection. This will show them when you call them they get rewarded.
Try doing it in areas of your house with a lot more external stimuli like your garden. When your German shepherd is occupied call their name and when they come, give them a treat again.
If you do this enough, they’ll soon be in the habit of coming to you every time you call their name.
When they’re in the habit, begin taking them for a walk. On their walks, every time you notice something that normally causes them to pull such as another dog or person, call their name and get them to sit patiently.
Just make sure they see the stimuli that normally causes them to pull. If they see it and don’t react, then give them a treat and lots of affection.
If they see it and do react, then simply take a few steps back and try again. After this, if they’re still pulling on their leash, then turn around and walk in another direction.
When you first try this method, make sure you’re taking your german shepherd places they’re not likely to come across stimuli that will make them pull.
Train Them By Zig Zagging
While all methods of training are good, this one has to be my favorite. It’s a lot more hands-on, however, if you’re willing to put in the time then it’s going to yield great results.
To start you’re going to need to find a nice, big open area that doesn’t have any distractions (or very few distractions). If you have a good-sized garden that will do fine.
Once you’ve found one put your german shepherd on the leash and begin walking them. However, instead of walking them directly forward, walk diagonally. Just as your german shepherd gets used to walking in one direction suddenly zig-zag in another direction while telling them to come.
At first they may restrain slightly, however, when they start to come naturally without struggling then you can begin giving them lots of treats and attention.
By only treating them when they listen without struggling, you’re going to reinforce the positive behavior.
Once your german shepherd is good at following you, then they’re ready for the next step. Begin letting them lead you on your walks. When something catches their attention and they begin to pull, simply turn in another direction and start walking.
If they follow without pulling then make sure you reward them with a treat and lots of affection. However, if they pull, keep walking in the other direction, but no longer reward them.
Eventually, they’ll come to realize that when they listen to you they get the reward, however, when they don’t, they get nothing.
Make Sure You’re Using Rewards
In every circumstance, make sure you’re using rewards for your german shepherd. They are going to learn a lot better and a lot faster when you reward them. Treats are always a great choice, but just remember, that giving them lots of affection and love is also going to feel like a reward to them.
The Best Training For German Shepherds
As I previously mentioned, if your German shepherd is pulling on their leash then the chances are other underlying problems are causing this. While you can treat the symptom, the best thing you can do is find the cause.
That’s why I recommend all dog owners get Brain Training For Dogs. It’s better than puppy school, and it will teach you exactly what you need to know to have a happy and obedient pup!
What I love about it is the fact it uses positive reinforcement to train your dog, instead of old and outdated punishment.
If you haven’t already then you should definitely check out Brain Training For Dogs!
(Read an in-depth review of Brain Training For Dogs.)
There’s a lot of different ways you can stop your german shepherd pulling on their leash. Remember, that positive reinforcement is the driving factor behind every method. Here’s a quick recap of the main things you need to remember:
- Your german shepherd may be pulling on their lead because they’ve never been taught not too, there’s a lot going on around them, and you’re going too slow for them.
- To stop a german shepherd you must first make sure they know the core fundamentals of good behavior, you can try using a dog harness or head collar, and you can exercise them before their walk.
- There are three great methods you can use to train your german shepherd to stop pulling. Relaxed walking, teaching them to respond to their name being called, and training them by zig-zagging.
- If you haven’t already you should look into Brain Training For Dogs. It’s the best way to teach your german shepherd the fundamentals they need to be a good pup!
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