I'll tell you something I think you'll understand...I wanna hold your hand

Do you remember when you were little and your mom or dad held your hand when you went new places? For me, it made me feel safe and comfortable knowing they were there with me. Now, if my parents were squeezing my hand tight I didn't feel nearly as comfortable--actually more stressed or anxious because they were passing their concern to me through that tight grip. If I was pulling their arms, trying to drag them by the hand, they quickly put a stop to that. There was no way they'd be pulled through a parking lot by me, no mater how excited I was to get to where I was going--it wasn't safe. I was excited about what I was going to do, but my parents had my best interest in mind by requiring me to walk calmly hand in hand. I learned quickly that fastest way to what I wanted was to walk nicely, not be pushy, and to keep level headed and comfortable when out and about. It wasn't until I was proving to them that I was predictable, made consistent and good choices, and wouldn't randomly pick up speed and charge ahead of them that they let me walk without holding their hand. 

The way we use the leash with our dogs can represent the same thing. Having a comfortable and relaxed leash, with the occasional leash pressure reminder is how we can hold our dog's hand and let them feel safe and secure with us. The word "relaxed" is the key--if we keep a tight leash or allow our dog to pull and keep the leash taught, it's the same as walking and your mom squeezing your hand the whole time. Uncomfortable for everyone! 

So, that means 2 things need to happen: If you're the one cranking in the leash tightly, it's time to work on relaxing yourself and your grip, only putting pressure on the leash to guide your dog back into position or to quickly grab their focus. We're using the leash as a comfortable reminder that we are there with our dog, not as a restraint. 

If your dog is constantly the one pulling at the end of the leash, and you're just holding on for dear life--think about the kid dragging their parent through the parking lot to Toys R Us. Unacceptable and not safe, right? Same deal with a pulling dog! It's time to put our foot down and discourage that behavior--our dog should be earning what they want by behaving, not dragging us to what they want. In that state of mind a dog isn't thinking at all about you or making the "right choice," he's literally doing what he wants (even if you're begging him not to!). We are literally using the leash to restrain our dog, and it doesn't have to be that way! With the right training tools/collars and some engagement techniques on your end, you can tell your dog (with only the leash) where you want him to walk, when he should be there, and where he shouldn't be--subtlety and smoothly! You can use your leash for conversation, connection, engagement, and comfort; not merely the only thing keeping your dog from running off.

It just takes the right tools, the right techniques, the right attitude, and the right person on the end of the leash who wants to change what they are doing to have that tuned in relationship with their dog. :)

Some cases are certainly more severe than others, which may require some help!

A trainer in your area can help you achieve this, if online resources or the things you are doing arn't working. I've got contacts all over--feel free to contact me for a referral in your area! :)