Q. My yellow Labrador Retriever is 2 years old. I walk him every day, sometimes twice. What more can I do to stop him from pulling on the leash? He doesn’t do it all the time, but it seems he will just be walking along and forget, then kind of speed up.
A. Dogs pull ahead when they want to get somewhere faster than the person at the other end of the leash happens to be walking. This often works well for the dog, because pulling tends to cause the person to speed up a bit. If it didn’t work this way, dogs wouldn’t pull on leash. The way to end your Lab’s pulling habit is to make it stop working for him.
Instead of speeding up when he starts to pull, try slowing down. If he pulls harder, stop walking and stand in one place. If he continues to pull once you’ve halted, start walking slowly backwards.
This tactic will teach your Lab that pulling no longer works the way he’d like it to. He’ll discover that pulling on leash now activates your brakes instead of your accelerator, and that continued pulling actually moves him farther from his intended goal, not closer. You must be consistent about doing this whenever he pulls, even a little bit. If other people walk him, too, make sure they also know and follow the new “rule”. It may take him a week or two to fully realize this new result of pulling is permanent and universal, but once he catches on, he’ll try to keep some slack in his leash, even when he gets excited about enticing scents or sights urging him onward.