Pit bulls are a compact and well-muscled breed, and trying to control one of these strong dogs on a leash can be challenging. Because your pit bull would happily drag you wherever his nose told him to go, it’s important that you take the time to train him how to walk properly on the leash. Not only will this save your arms from a lot of soreness, it will also help your dog make a good impression. Because pit bulls are seen as “bad dogs” by many people, a pit bull that pulls on his leash will automatically be labeled “aggressive” and feared.
Your goal is to get your dog to walk nicely on a leash without having to struggle the whole time and end up exhausted when you get home. He should eventually walk calmly by your side with the leash hanging loosely. In fact, it’s important that you are careful with some collars when leash training your pit bull, because they are strong and have a high tolerance for pain. Your pit bull might ignore the pain he feels as he chokes himself, so he can do severe damage to his throat and lyrnx. Chest harnesses should be used carefully as well because they will give your dog even more leverage to use against you.
Tools to Try
You can try using a head leader / halter to leash train your pit bull, I’ve used them and they work great for minor correction. A head harness connects around the snout and head, transferring the energy to your dog’s neck. This doesn’t hurt him, but it does take away his ability to pull on the leash. Head leaders / halters, such as the Gentle Leader head harness, are a safe and easy way to start training your pit bull to walk on a leash. (be sure to secure your dog with a secondary leash(just use your regular leash) just in case your pup slips out our snaps the lead / halter. I don’t trust them and they aren’t always heavy duty)
Why Your Pits Pulling & How To Handle It
Chances are your pit bull is pulling because he is excited and wants to hurry forward. His nose and ears are being overloaded with new information, and he wants to be able to investigate everything. Forward momentum is the most powerful weapon you have in your leash training arsenal. When your dog begins to pull, simply stop walking.. He will eventually get the point that pulling the leash is not getting him anywhere. When he returns, reward him with a treat, and then start walking again. As soon as the leash tightens, stop in your tracks and wait for the return. You should never move forward when there is tension on the leash. Your dog should get the idea that a loose leash means progress and a tight leash means that he’s not going anywhere. I can’t stress how important it is to be consistent and PATIENT with this part. It’s more beneficial to walk 50 feet with perfect patience and consistency than to walk a mile… trust me.
Rewarding the Good Behavior… Ignoring the Bad
Make sure you take plenty of treats along with you on your training walks. Rewarding him for walking on a loose leash (or, in the beginning, for letting it go loose at all) will help to reinforce a positive connection between your dog and a loose leash. Don’t scold your dog for pulling, he most likely doesn’t know he is doing anything wrong. When you retaliate by getting mad or angry you are only making it harder on the both of you. I know it is hard, but just be aware of your emotions and take breaks when needed. Leash training a pit bull takes patience, and you need to be willing to stand still until your dog returns to you and lets the leash go loose. This might mean that your walk takes a full half an hour and you only walk one block, but your dog will start to learn and improve. Remember consistency is key, if you are strict one day, and let him do whatever he wants the next, he will never learn.
Here are some great training treats that my dogs love!
Another tactic you can try is to change directions suddenly. If your pit bull is pulling, make a sudden turn. Your dog now has to catch up with you. As he approaches, the leash will loosen and you can reward him. This also teaches him how to pay attention to you during a walk, rather than being so lost in his surroundings that he can’t hear a word you say. Having your dog’s attention at all times is vital on walks. If another dog or person approaches, or if your dog gets off of his leash, you need to know that he will listen to you when you call him back or tell him to sit. Having a dog that doesn’t listen on walks can be dangerous for you, for your dog, for strangers, and for other dogs you might meet. This is especially true in the case of pit bulls because there a lots of people that are terrified of the breed. You can also avoid lawsuits or complaints against your dog, since many people will unfairly interpret any misbehavior on the part of a pit bull as aggression.
Patience is Key
Don’t get frustrated if your pitty is slow to learn how to walk nicely on a leash. Take a few deep breaths and realize that is a learning process for him, and it will take time. This is an essential skill that will help him stay safe and can help him make a good impression on the people you meet along the way. Walking your dog is no fun if it is stressful or painful, but it’s necessary to help the dog expend his extra energy. With some patience and diligent training, you and your dog can enjoy your walks together.
I love reading how to do things, but if I can watch that’s even better. I’ve found a few videos that demonstrate what has been discussed above that I hope will help.
Leash Walking Tips
This is a great video from kikopup on simple training exercises on working with leash training your pit(or any other dog for that matter). She even talks about how to deal with your dog not taking treats due to distractions on walks(happens to me all the time).
Daily walks should be an enjoyable event for you and your dog so keep up the practice and you’ll be a pro in no time!