Some dogs are difficult to control while they are on a leash. When my Maltese-Yorkie puppy Mila was just a couple months old, she would run all over the place. It was next to impossible to keep her in place. And it can be nerve-racking when a dog wearing just a neck collar pulls on the leash, partly because it can crush your dog’s esophagus, and partly because it wears on your arm. Fortunately, there are some alternative methods to help control your dog on a leash.
Control your dog on a leash: The head halter
This is a piece of equipment that is an adaptation from horse head halters. The idea is that where the dog’s head goes, sooner or later the rest of the body has to follow. It is beneficial for both nervous or hyperactive dogs, for smaller handlers of larger dogs, and for senior citizens or disabled handlers to control their dogs. It helps avoid inappropriate behavior such as whining, barking, and even biting or nipping. Unfortunately, if the dog or handler pulls too hard, there is a potential for serious damage to your dog’s neck. It is more commonly used as a transition tool before the dog learns to accept responsibility for his behavior.
Control your dog on a leash: The body harness
A body harness is beneficial to dogs with small, fragile throats and those who may have trouble breathing, such as small and toy dog breeds, as well as brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog breeds. A harness can help control your dog while on a leash, although I have found that my puppy tends to pull a little harder with a harness on, since it doesn’t hurt her neck. However, they can cause chafing under the arms and on the body, and harnesses can be difficult to put on and remove. They should not be left on for long periods of time, so keep a light collar with an ID tag on your dog.
Control your dog on a leash: Train him to ‘heel’
If your dog learns to heel, you won’t have a difficult time controlling him on a leash. I recommend starting without a leash, so you will want to practice this command either indoors or in a fenced yard. Take a handful of treats in your left hand and show them to your dog. He will likely come to you and wait for a treat. Toss a treat away from you and let him go get it, then begin to walk in a circle counterclockwise.
He will probably come back for more, so when he comes back to your left side, tell him to “heel” as you continue walking. Keep tossing treats, one at a time, and tell him to “heel” each time he comes back. Walk for longer intervals in-between treats. Eventually you will be able to add a leash and remove the treats.
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