Walking your dog is a fantastic way to get some exercise and spend quality time together; however, many Staffie owners dread dog walks as these dogs pull so hard the experience becomes a nightmare. They are a strong dog that can be difficult to manage.
Whilst your dog’s walking habits may have no ramifications in the short term, if your pooch is constantly yanking on the leash, it may result in damage to their spine and neck area, cause breathing problems and injure their windpipe, so it’s crucial to stop pulling in its tracks.
The good news is you can stop your Staffy pulling and teach them to remain calm when walking on a loose leash easily.
Keep reading to find out how to stop a Staffordshire Bull Terrier pulling on a lead and some tips on training techniques to get your pup to walk calmly by your side no matter what else is going on.
8 Tips on Leash Training your Staffie
1) Start the day you bring your puppy home
The best way to teach your Staffordshire Bull Terrier to walk properly on a lead and not pull is to start when they are a puppy. Not when they are ready to begin walking outside, but the first day you bring them into the house.
Get them used to a lead and collar and start basic training, so they know how their name, how to come and how to sit; this sets the groundwork for leash training and helps them understand that doing what you ask will result in something good like a fuss, a treat or their favourite toy.
2) They need to pay attention
Staffies are easily distracted, whether it’s other people they meet, construction noises or other dogs in the distance, so the first thing to get them walking nicely and not pull is to get their attention even if their mind is on other things.
You can do this in the house by saying their name and when they look at you give a reward most Staffies are food motivated so this shouldn’t be difficult, soon your puppy will look to you expecting something nice when you say their name. Just remember not to overuse their name during this time, so they associate it with the training
3) Control their impulsive nature
All dog behaviour is based on impulse; if they see a cat, they will chase it; if they see food, they will eat it and an essential part of any dog’s training is teaching them self control. They can’t just do what they want, especially a powerful dog like a Staffie. They need to understand that you are in charge and all good things in life come from you.
There are numerous ways to teach impulse control; you can hold a treat in your hand and wait until you give a command before taking it. Place their food on the floor and make them sit and wait for a verbal cue or simply make them wait calmly at the front door when it opens. These things will teach your dog that waiting and doing what you say is beneficial.
4) Choosing the right equipment if your dog pulls
Is a collar or a harness better? In most cases, because Staffies are classed as a brachycephalic breed, a second option is preferable because they take any lead pulling pressure away from the neck area and disperse it across the body instead.
Check out our post on the best harnesses for Staffies.
They should be well fitted, not too tight and if you decide to go for a collar, it should be broad and soft. Never use choke collars, as these can make your dog pull even more to get away from the discomfort. A shorter lead may also encourage your pup to start pulling.
When choosing a lead or collar, your dog’s comfort should be your prime consideration, not how stylish they look!
5) What about an anti-pulling option?
Many owners think that an anti-pulling harness is a magical solution to dogs pulling on the lead. However, this is not the case. Some dogs immediately respond and they can be effective as training harnesses if you adopt an older Staffy with no previous training and are fed up with being pulled down the street.
Head collars can also work however some dogs don’t like them. Ultimately the only way to prevent Staffordshire Bull Terriers from pulling on the lead is to spend time training; believe me, it’s worth the effort.
6) Reward correct positioning
Using positive reinforcement is the best way by far to get your pooch doing what you want them to do. Staffies are a dog that is eager to please and train, so if they are walking calmly by your side and the lead is slack, let them know that’s the right thing; at this point, tell them they’re a good boy (don’t use a high pitch tone or it will get them excited)
Give them a tiny piece of cheese or some playtime with their favourite toy. Eventually, they will realise that not charging ahead results in good things. Practice in the house first before venturing outside.
7) Don’t mistakenly reinforce your dog pulling
Say your Staffie has been walking nicely on the lead, it’s taken a lot of time and patience, but all is good, then they see a doggy pal in the distance and your best friend starts pulling towards them, you may think well I was going that way anyway and let them pull you towards their goal.
Big mistake! You have undone all the previous work. Your dog now thinks once again that pulling on the lead will get him where he wants to go.
That’s why it’s essential to be consistent. The correct course of action here would be to stop in your tracks and change direction. Once Fido is calm again, you can then return to your original course; this way, your four-legged friend will understand that pulling was a waste of time and behaving got him to where he wanted to be.
8) Try a clicker
Lots of dog trainers swear by clickers and if used correctly, they can be a fantastic training tool. Basically, the clicker is pressed the exact moment your dog does what you want and a reward follows this.
Once again, this uses positive reinforcement to encourage your pooch in desirable behaviours, but timing and consistency are essential for it to work.
This video shows how to train your dog with a clicker
Why do Staffies pull?
They don’t know any better.
This breed can be excitable and if they haven’t been trained to walk on a loose lead, a walk is a perfect excuse to get into an uncontrollable state. This is the exact opposite frame of mind you want them to be in before a walk.
Put a calming routine in place or play a game of fetch before walk time to release any pent-up energy.
Sometimes your pooch may walk fine on the lead until they see another dog, this overrides any previous training and they will pull.
When starting the initial puppy training, take walks where you know it will be quieter and there are few distractions as your pup gets better at walking introducing a distraction at a time. If you encounter other pulling dogs, stop walking, get your pup’s attention, reward them if they don’t pull and remain calm.
You’re walking too slow.
Dogs walk a lot faster than most humans and sometimes the reason for your Staffy pulling on the lead is simply that you aren’t walking fast enough. What you choose, they need to learn they should be walking with no tension on the lead and this will stop you from getting pulled around the neighbourhood.
Staffies sometimes get a bad rep and in most cases, this is down to the owners. However, it emphasises the importance of training your Staffordshire Bull Terrier not to pull on a leash.
It can be intimidating especially if you have a small dog if you see a Staffie straining to get to you and many people are wary of this breed.
So, show them how wrong they are and that a well-trained Staffie is an absolute joy, funny, loyal, affectionate, and not dogs to be feared. Your relaxed body language with a loose leash will help Fido relax too.
Teaching your Staffie to walk on a lead without pulling may take some time, but the results of this hard work are worth every minute spent in training and think of the end result of a well-behaved pup that no longer pulls.
We hope this advice has been helpful; want to know what exercise a Staffy needs; check out this article. Good luck!