Who else here is old enough to remember the Jetson’s cartoon show and their beloved dog, Astro? Remember how every time George took the dog for a walk, Astro ended up walking him? George was helplessly drug behind this great beast as it chased cats, food or whatever else struck the animals fancy that episode. I’m sure we all had a good hearty laugh at poor Georges’ expense as kids but, now that we are a bit older and wiser, we really don’t want to be in his shoes… or at the end of Astros’ leash, for that matter. So how do you teach your massive Great Dane to walk at your pace on a leash? How about a few pointers?
The first part of training your pet not to drag you at the end of the leash is to instill in them a sense of calm before the leash ever goes on. Dogs are adventurous animals and the sight of the leash signals them that they are going out on a grand adventure. They become very excited by the prospect and it can be difficult to even get the leash affixed to their collar let alone control the dog. So we need the help of another command. This is the “sit” command followed by “stay.” The idea is to make your pet calm down sufficiently that you do not have to fight to attach the leash and the walk should by no means begin until the pet has calmed. If you allow the pet to set the mood for your walk as a nerve racking frenzy of movement and excitement, then they will continue the walk at the same pace.
Now that you have achieved placing the leash on the collar, you are nearly ready. You might have noticed your pet trembling in excitement as you were attaching the leash. She is ready for the walk and just can’t wait. Hold on to the end of the leash tightly and plant both feet firmly because as soon as you release the collar, two things are going to happen… One, your pet is going to bolt madly around the room in a renewed frenzy of excitement and, secondly, you are going to feel as if your arm is going to be wrenched from its socket.
To stop future incidence of this, try a simple trick… Stand Still. Your pet will quickly reach the end of the leash and be left dancing at the end of it. Hold your ground until she realizes that you are not going anywhere at all. When the animal calms and comes back to you praise her profusely. Then walk around the room with her a bit. If she repeats the pulling behavior, again stand still. She will quickly learn that a frenzy of activity is not rewarded and will be much calmer at the end of the leash. Again praise her for being a good dog. Keep repeating this activity until you feel confident that your pet is ready for the added stimulus of being outdoors.
Now we ramp up the training a bit by moving outdoors. Here in the great unknown expanses, there lurk many new temptations; the neighbors cat, the newspaper boy on his bike, the mailman carrying a sack full of letters and usually a few dog biscuits or even a stray dog passing by. With so many new and exciting adventures, your pet will be tempted to pull at the leash again but you must stand your ground. Some of the pulling can be headed off by avoiding these situations until your pet has more experience with the leash by keeping a watchful eye for other animals or people who might interact with your pet and circumventing these areas. Once your pet is ready for such interactions, perhaps you can arrange a meeting in a controlled manner such as asking a friend to approach you and your pet at the park so you can teach your pet how to respond to a strangers approach.
No matter what the situation, remember to stand still until your pet has calmed or you will be running to catch up to your pet for a very long time to come.