No More Pulling! 3 Steps to Fantastic Leash Training

Your dog constantly pulls on the leash.  It is a quick and easy way to dash the enjoyment of taking the dog out as your training partner on a regular basis.

These 3 steps are the foundation to a fantastic leash trained dog.  The golden nugget in all of this is the realization that any bad habit you have can also be changed by following the same plan.  Lay out the 3 basic things you need to do differently no matter what it is and if you find yourself, or in this case your dog doing the same old habit…. Stop.  And start again.   You’ll be happy.  And at the end of the day so will your dog.

1.  Leash Length

This is the biggest mistake people make in the beginning with their dog.  Too much leash.

Dogs learn and think in pictures.  When giving your dog the full leash length you have physically told your dog to hang out at the end of it.  You have set up the situation from the get go, allowing your dog to push the envelope and automatically lose it on all the smells!  No clear boundary is set up for your dog to even know where the line of comfortable should be.

No more than 2-3 feet of leash is the new rule while walking or running.

Dogs have a sense of smell that finds many more individual odors to take in compared to humans by a thousand times.  It is why canines are used as search dogs instead of training humans to locate people, narcotics or bed bugs with their noses!  It is no wonder they go completely A.D.D. quickly and lose focus while in an environment other than home.

Now you at least know why your dog is prone to this annoying behavior!

Because a dog’s nose is their addiction to losing your attention you need to set up leash training so you become the default addiction.  Treats and affection work wonders as a dog’s new focus.

Giving your dog only 3 feet is also key to the 1st step in no more pulling on the leash.

2.  Tell Your Dog It’s Right in the Moment

Dogs do not have the ability to logic.  Humans come to conclusions.  Dogs need to know that they are doing what you want them to in that very moment that they are doing it.  At least in the training or re-training stage.

Don’t expect your dog to walk down an entire block doing the right thing without a lot of encouragement.  Reward in the moment.

Take a few steps with your dog beside you.

Reward your dog in the moment.

Take 5-10 steps and make a turn.  Keep rewarding.

Do this over and over.  To the point you think it’s ridiculous.

Before you know it you’ll be taking way more steps successfully with your dog beside you.  Soon you’ll be to the end of the block and on to the next one.

It’s like anything new.  It’s take a lot of practice.  Don’t get discouraged and try to make it all the way down the block the first time.

Yes.  It is a lesson for us alll.  It’s described as patience.  And done correctly it will bring you big reward in many areas of your life.

3.  Give Directions Ahead of Time

Another big mistake us humans make when it comes to leash training is giving directions to the dog way too late.

Think of giving your dog the heads up on what you want to do way before you’re ready to make a turn, stop or move forward, sort of like you would if you were driving a car.  If you were going to make a left hand turn in traffic you’d use your turn signal and begin breaking quite a ways in advance of the actual turn.

Remember the concept your dog does not process the ability to logic.  Therefore giving directions after you already wanted your dog to do something can be very confusing.  And if you give more than one direction, i.e “lets go”, “no”, “wait”, “stop pulling” all one right after the other without completing any of them, dogs get seriously confused.  It’s easier to default to going out to the end of the leash and pulling you along in the confusion.

Tell your dog what to do ahead of time and then proceed.  Pretend like each new move you want to make is a left hand turn in traffic.  Give a big alert before actually expecting your dog to understand what you want to do.

The Hardest Part of Leash Training

Patience.  Especially if you aren’t starting with a brand new puppy.  Re-training a bad habit can be frustrating and we are conditioned to keep moving forward even if the dog doesn’t get it.

Slow down.  Stop.  Begin again.  No one gets good at anything without a lot of practice.  Only practice the things you want your dog to do and stop repeating the actions you no longer wish to be a part of.  It works.  It’s a good formula for anything you’d like to change in your life.

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The Big Island Hawaii

Welcome to Big Island Dog… my first post to our new life with our dogs and what we want to enjoy, appreciate and share on the Big Island of Hawaii.

I have two dogs, a Weimaraner and a Lab and a wonderful life partner, I call him G .  We decided to live our dreams in our 40′s rather than waiting until later, when the economy recovers, when we get to that “retirement” age… whatever that is, or any other excuse most of us have become accustomed to accepting as the reason we stay in jobs, careers and lifestyles we wish were different.

The articles and insights you’ll find on this site will include many lessons learned in this process.  It includes how I dared to say I wanted to become a minimalist.  This from a woman who came to find out had four closets full of clothes alone before we even get into all the Mac computers and gadgets, sporting goods and dog training equipment packed away in my garage, most of which I had forgotten I had, or simply couldn’t find through all the stuff.  Even the dogs missed out on a lot of fun with the over abundance of “stuff” in our lives since most of it was in bins and shelves piled amongst things I might need someday, never to be actually used.

Funny thing is when it comes to the dogs, now that all the stuff is gone and we are actually here in Hawaii, they are back to having the most fun ever and the toy that came along with them?

One simple tennis ball!  Same for us, only one of anything and only the things that we would actually use.  Everything is simplified.

What do the dogs have to do with it all?

I train dogs.  Yes I have been called by many “the real dog whisperer” as well as a life coach (also adopting this label from the many who have described me as this)… that covers health and fitness, business and personal in case you were wondering if you might need this type of thing in your life!  I enjoy teaching both things and in fact they really do intertwine.  It comes down to what we focus on, what we put our energy into, what we think about and who we spend our time with…. and for me it includes a whole world of dog things that can apply to how we live, play and show our authentic selves.

What you’ll find in Big Island Dog


  • Why we have dogs
  • How to live with more play in your life
  • How to leave bad behavior behind and focus on what you want (that’s for you and for the dog)
  • Create simple habits to build a lifestyle of joy around
  • Develop your life to have the best day ever most of the time
  • Build your business or work around your life passion
  • Make a difference in the world

I hope to inspire others to follow their hearts, live out their dreams and make the world a better place though the playful eyes of a dog.  As the creator of dog wellness programs, health and fitness, and coaching people who are ready to take their lives to the next level, reaching their full potential, I welcome you to the best day ever…. everyday.


Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed this post please share it, follow me on Twitter or Subscribe to The Healthy Living Wag Report.

Jt Clough, has studied, applied and taught others how to create a balanced life with calm dog training techniques through her lifetime commitment to health and fitness. Clough is also the creator of dog wellness programs and author of the 5K Training Guide | Running with Dogs and Treading for Dogs DVD,  further inspiring people to introduce playtime in life through the eyes of a dog changing unwanted behaviors to practicing a healthy lifestyle.

Does Age Count | When to Begin Running a Puppy or Dog

The age your puppy should start structured running does matter.

Puppies are not fully developed and should not be run at all unless it is in the form of natural play. You should wait to fully run your dog until the growth plates have closed, usually at 18 months.

As a general rule light activity is recommended to start a 9-12 month old puppy, building towards full activity from 12-18 months. Dog breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Rotweillers and others that are susceptible to hip dysplasia should be a full 18 months old before full structured runs should take place.

For a list of good running dog breeds check this Runner’s World article:  A Breed Apart.

Once your puppy reaches 18 months you should start light activity, do short runs and try to run on softer surfaces such as trails or grassy areas as opposed to pavement.

Exercise for Your Puppy in the Meantime

In the meantime it is still important that your puppy get appropriate exercise. Walking on soft surfaces is highly recommended to begin building ligaments and muscle tissue around bones that are still growing.  The foundation can be instrumental in avoiding physical problems in the future.

Does this mean never walk or run your puppy on sidewalks or harder surfaces?

No.  You can certainly take your dog out on these surfaces as a segway to get somewhere or on a limited bases.  After all, these surfaces are part of life and your puppy does need to begin acclimating to them.

You can also begin incorporating tricks that actually are building core strength along with ligaments and muscle tissue.  Sit pretty is one of those tricks that uses a dog’s front legs and feet to push off, core strength to hold themselves up and builds muscle in the hind legs as a foundation.

Watch the steps to teaching sit pretty in this video.  The video shows sit pretty as a warm up for dogs older than 18 months who need an alternative exercise plan using a treadmill to meet their physical and behavior needs.

Older Dogs

Age matters in older dogs as well.  The fact of the matter is older dogs are going to feel a workout more than a younger dog.  Just like the aging process in humans it is a fact, things in our bodies get stiff and sore in a different way then when we were younger.

That being said it is important to keep an older dog moving.  Watch for signs of fatigue, limping or soreness and base your running sessions on these factors.  There are many dogs that keep going strong into old age.  It has been my experience that these dogs are those who have been active their entire life.

Hmmmm, same with people!  Another lesson from our dogs.

Thanks for reading.  My hope is to give you inspiration and actions steps to move toward a life well played your best friend whether puppy, dog or person!  

Dog Training EcourseJt Clough has worked with dogs in many capacities for the past 16 years. She has helped dogs and their people from training to healthy living and her latest inspiration is with Wonder Dog Fund, created to help pay veterinary bills for dogs that are in need of health care. When her own dog was riddled with a neck injury that came with a $12,000 fee, she realized how many people are faced with difficult decisions when a sudden injury or illness strikes their dog. A portion of every purchase from goes to Wonder Dog Fund, providing financial relief for dog veterinary costs.


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