I was at a new Home Dog Training session last Monday in Johns Creek working with a new Home Dog Training client and his two-year-old Rottweiler named Doogie. Doogie was really an excellent dog, and we resolved the “bad dog issues” that my client initially told me he had with Doogie.  These were the regular “doggie problems” that most people have with their dogs.  They included things like not listening, jumping, taking stuff off tables and counters, and not paying attention to my client or any member of his family while in the house. 

Properly walk a large and crazy dog on a leash

Oh, I believe that I haven’t told you yet that Doogie weighed over 100 lbs. and one of his favorite activities was going on a walk. Although my client seemed to overlook it during our initial review of “what is Doogie doing that is driving you nuts”, I quickly realized that Doogie was completely uncontrollable when outside on a walk.

It wasn’t that he was aggressive, he simply became a “free spirit” when outside on a walk.  He just needed to check everything out all at once with no consideration that he was attached to a leash and needed to calmly walk with my client.  My client told me that he had scoured the internet and had attempted every suggestion that he could locate.  He had tried walking Doogie on a short leash with both the check chain collar and prong collar.  They did not work, and they often made him crazier.  He reached out to me for any help and solution I could provide.

I started out by telling my client that I always enjoy it when I have a client with this problem.  I assured him that I didn’t have some weird sense of humor in “his pain”, but I had a really great solution. I continued by telling him that I had a Home Dog Training client about a year ago who had a very large German Shepherd with this exact problem.  Like my current client, my client with the Shepherd could never have a calm and enjoyable walk with his dog.  I told him that I was going to teach him the technique that had been very successful for my prior client and his equally large and powerful dog.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE TO ALL MY READERS:  The technique that I am about to describe is not for everybody.  It is meant only for dog owners with very large, powerful dogs that will not focus and behave while on a leashed walk.  It should only be implemented after proper, professional training (i.e. I have trained you).  My core value in training dogs is to never do anything that will hurt, harm, or scare them.  This technique can never be used if the dog is being hurt, harmed, or scared.  With all that said, this technique is not for everyone. 

I first told him that I was switching the equipment he was using from the prong collar to an Easy Walk Harness. I went on to explain why I had made the “equipment change”.

The difference between a prong collar (or any standard dog collar) and Easy Walk Harness is that the collar will simply pull Doogie back from the rear of the neck. He will never stop focusing on the “target” that is getting him to pull in the first place.  In fact, simply pulling him back through the use of the collar and leash may cause him to become more excited to get to “the target”.

When you use an Easy Walk Harness on your dog, you attach the leash to a hook located on the chest portion of the harness. When you pull the leash with a dog wearing an Easy Walk Harness, it will cause the dog to turn around and face you.

I told my client to think of it as if someone was running past him.  If he grabbed that person by the back of their shirt, the person would continue to try and run.  If he had grabbed that person by the front of their shirt, he would have swung around to face him.  That is the focus and redirection that needs to be accomplished.

With the Easy Walk Harness properly placed on Doogie, I reached for the six-foot-leash that my client had been using.  I told him that I still wanted to use this leash, but make one operational change.  Before, my client had been holding the leash quite tightly and only allowed Doogie to have about two feet of the leash.  This kept him tightly right next to my client.  My new method had my client holding the leash by the leash handle.  This meant that there could be up to six feet of leash between Doogie and himself.

I told my client that I would demonstrate what he needed to do.  Doogie and I started to walk.  He glanced at me and, as he always did before, immediately ran out to the extent of the leash. The moment Doogie reached the end of the leash and started to pull, I gave the leash a forceful tug and guided him back to me. I continued to calmly walk and didn’t make a big deal of the redirection back to me.

Doogie looked at me for a moment. He had never been corrected and redirected like that before while “on his walk” and this was all new to him.  Assuming that this was a one-time event and that he still could get away with being nuts on a walk, Doogie quickly went to the end of the leash and started to pull and lunge towards “his target” again.   I gave the leash a forceful tug to swing him around and guided him back to me again.  This time I stopped walking in order to increase Doogie’s need to focus and respect me.

Although I needed to redirect Doogie back additional times during our walk, he eventually calmed down and no longer would lunge out towards objects and pull on the leash.  By the end of the walk he was calmly walking near me on a loose leash.  All I needed to do was to give the leash a slight tweak and he would immediately look back towards me.

I told my client that although Doogie appeared to be “completely fixed”, he would need to practice the techniques we just demonstrated on a daily basis. I also state that nothing we did scared, frightened, or hurt Doogie.  All we did was to let Doogie know what he could and couldn’t do while out on a walk.

Although Doogie liked to walk relatively close to me, some dogs need a “little more wiggle room” when out for a walk. This does not mean that they don’t want to pay attention to you or are disrespectful.  They just want to be a little farther away as they are strolling with you.  If your dog is more comfortable in walking a few feet farther away from you, that is fine.  As long as you can calmly call to them and they immediately give you focus, you should be fine.  From experience, German Shepherds are one dog breed that require a little additional “wiggle room” when walking.

I need to restate that this technique isn’t for everybody.  My client had the ability to control Doogie if he lunged, understood the technique, and was able to successfully perform the actions to get Doogie’s respectful and calm focus.  Doogie always remained in a safe learning mode and my client always displayed that he was the trusted teacher. Some people don’t have this ability and, because of that, should not try to implement this technique.

Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help.  You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over nineteen years.  We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and great families and are ready to help you.