If we had a nickel for every time we’ve heard “my dog pulls on the leash when I try to walk him,” rescue would be well-funded! Our answer to that is “Well, of course he does; that’s a very natural behavior for a dog.” However, it’s no fun being pulled all over the map every time you try to take a walk, nor is it safe, so teaching leash manners is a must!
The first thing to do is to not fall into the trap of believing that Samoyeds are sled dogs and therefore cannot learn to not pull. Yes, Samoyeds are sled dogs, but as such, they are smart and can easily learn when pulling is appropriate (when hooked up to a sled) and when it’s not (when out for a walk with their human). Don’t sell your dog short or soon he’s the one who will be running the show!
Most people try to teach leash manners by using a choke chain and pulling against the dog. However, a dog’s natural instinct is to apply counterforce, so by pulling back, you are actually teaching the dog to pull against you. Not at all what you want to accomplish! Instead, you need to think like a dog to make this work!
Rather than constantly pulling/battling with your dog, this is the perfect example of of an opportunity to use what the dog wants to help teach him what you want. The dog wants to go for a walk/continue forward, so make it so that he only gets to do that when he walks nicely: the instant he starts pulling on the leash, stop dead in your tracks & become a tree. As long as he pulls on the leash, refuse to go anywhere. When the line goes slack, praise him and continue on.
At first, you won’t get far on your walks as you’ll be stopping every few steps, but it won’t take long for him to put 2 and 2 together and realize that he doesn’t get what he wants unless he does what you want. As he gets better at this, increase the requirement – for instance, instead of simply not pulling, stop if he gets more than 2 steps in front of you. Then, once he grasps that, again, up the requirement so that instead of getting to move on again once he’s close enough to you, don’t move forward until he’s by your side, etc.
With consistency and a little effort, you and your dog will be enjoying pleasant, non-pulling walks before you know it!
by Ellen Engle, MidAtlantic Samoyed Rescue
(Reprinted with permission. No reproductions of this article allowed without author permission.)