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Puppy is a spaz on the leash

March 11th, 2007, 10:50 AM
My puppy loves to go for walks. The problem is she's a spaz. I've even had an aquaintance ask "who's walking who?"

She just a little 4-month old 6-lb shih tzu cross, so I have her on a harness - I read that was best for her size and breed type. I also have her on a retractable leash, but I'm constantly doing ballet moves to unravel my legs from the leash. When I restrict the leash to a specific length, she pulls away from me, to the point that her front legs don't touch the ground. I don't mind her racing around sniffing everything, but I can't stand being tangled in the leash every 30 seconds. I can't even walk her with any of my children because they trip each other up! I've accidently stepped on her paw and nicked her nose with my shoe when she's run in front of me - which she also does frequently. How do I train her to walk "nicely"? Should I get a different collar or leash? Please help!

March 11th, 2007, 11:05 AM
I use a harness and a regular length leash with my spazzy American Eskimo, who can walk a long time on his hind legs. I also have a Martingale collar - a well padded one. He is getting better - and I do fold the leash over so it is more like a 4 ft. leash than a 6 ft.

March 11th, 2007, 11:42 AM
Take her out to a big feild and start walking. if she starts to pull away in front of you, change direction. Make a sharp right. She should start to watch you to see which direction your going. If she keeps pulling in one direction stop and wait. When she stops pulling, praise and continue. If she pulls again, stop and wait, and continue this.

Try that out.

March 11th, 2007, 12:22 PM
Dogs pull for one simple reason. Because they can. The only difference between a large breed and toy breed, is the neck. Harnesses are designed for pulling (sled dogs, police tracking dogs, etc), so if you put a harness on, then try to pull with a regular buckle collar, which would you prefer?

The concern of course with small dogs, is that when you suddenly change directions (works well), or if the dog runs ahead, a harness isn't going to give the dog the correction in needs (it will flip the dog over, or pull the dog back), but a buckle collar risks damage to the neck. That's a lot of pressure on little dogs when they hit the end of the leash.

I would suggest losing the harness completely, and keeping the dog on a simple collar, and simply going for a controlled walk (getting the dog to walk next to you). Right now, your goal shouldn't be focus and attention, but rather simply showing your dog that YOU are in charge of the walk. You tell your dog what to sniff, and when to sniff it. If your dog wants to pee, you lead your dog to the grass, and not the other way around.

One thing you can try right now, is to allow ONLY enough leash for the dog to stray a couple feet from you, and when she goes on her own way, STOP. She'll only struggle for so long before turning back and look at you in confusion "Hey! Why are we stopped?" A good girl will work for your dog checking back, but if proper walking is what you want, then simply turn and walk away. When your dog is at your side again, turn back to the direction you were headed, then praise the living snooties out of her.

A good place to practice this is in your driveway (walk towards someone so she learns that if she walks nicely, she gets there faster. But if she doesn't walk nicely, she doesn't get there at all).

March 11th, 2007, 01:55 PM
Change to a regular 6' leash and harness. Retractable leashes encourage pulling. Teach your dog the meaning of the words "by me". Walk around the house with a hot dog saying "by me". When she is walking by your side and giving you full attention give her a piece. Next step when you are confident she knows the word is to give it a go in the backyard. When she has that put the harness and leash on her and let her trail it and do the same. This way you are slowly introducing levels of distraction that she can handle. Soon when you say "by me" she will know what it means and that she will get a treat if she walks by your side. My foster has learned this technique within a month and is such a good walker now.

March 11th, 2007, 04:36 PM
I don't mind her racing around sniffing everything,

Since you don't mind, what do you think she's going to do? This is a big mistake a lot of dog owners make. "I don't mind her sniffing around and stuff, but I wish she would stop tripping me!".
You have to teach her that it is NOT ok to go off and sniff things and run in front of you, behind you, run up to other people, look around or go towards things that interest her, etc.
When you see people with dogs that walk well on leash it's because those dogs were taught not to do that. Not even necessarily because the owner put special time into training but because the dog was simply not allowed screw around while walking on leash.

I agree with the others, ditch the retractable leash for a normal 4-6 foot leash. Going for a walk shouldn't be free time for the dog, it should be a time when she follows you where YOU want to go.
This should start as soon as you get the leash. She should be able to sit quietly while you put the leash on. Leash = time to behave. If she has a habit of getting excited when you go to put the leash on she must be taught to sit and wait. This can be done with treats or any other way you choose, the main thing is that she sits and waits for the leash to be put on.
Once this is mastered you want her to learn to stay sitting until you decide to lead her off. Going for a walk isn't time to get her excited and wound up, t's a time she should calm down before you leave.
Walk outside and stand for a few minutes, let her sniff the air a bit and calm down. Don't automatically start the walk when she's excited and ready to go.

Teach her to walk either next to you or slightly behind you, but NEVER ahead. When a dog is walking ahead of you they are the ones leading, so you can't expect them not to run in front of you. When they're leading they're expecting you to watch where they're going and follow them, and this is the opposite of what you want.
Like someone else mentioned, if she lunges ahead you should stop and change direction. If she continues this behavior for more than few minutes you may want to try the stop-change direction then make her sit when she's at your side. Change direction, get her at your side and make her sit every time then start again.
You must be patient and stick to it. If you do this and then decide "well she needs a walk so we'll go anyway" she'll never learn. If she won't obey she doesn't go for a walk. Eventually she'll catch on, and when she does it will be MUCH more enjoyable for the both of you.

Don't make it a frustrating process. If you get frustrated remember, it's ok to go back inside, sit her down and take the leash off. You can always try again later. The main thing is CONSISTENCY. If you start getting frustrated it's impossible to think straight and be consistent.
You may need to find another way to exercise her while she's learning that she doesn't go for a walk unless she behaves. Play fetch or similar activities with her either off leash in a safe enclosed area or on a long line.
This can also aid in tiring her out before you decide to go for a walk, which will make her less excitable and likely to try and run off sniffing things.