13 December 2023 • Dog sports
What if my dog doesn't pull?
You’ve scrolled the internet, you’ve been all over instagram and tiktok and you’ve seen all different types of dogs in all different breeds and sizes around the world enjoying harness dog sports with their humans. You’ve got a high energy dog who loves to run and be outside, they’d be PERFECT for this. You buy all the right gear (of course you have, you’ve used our module tool and picked the perfect equipment for your dog from our catalog). You get to the trail and you go… nowhere! Or they go a little ways and then start trotting beside you. Ugh, so frustrating!
Why doesn’t my dog get it? Why won’t they pull?!
We’ve got some solutions for you to get you moving as a team again. To begin though, give yourself and your dog a little grace. Chances are you’ve done an excellent job with training them to walk on a leash without pulling. All of a sudden, you’re asking the exact opposite. Think about it, if the roles were reversed you’d maybe be a little confused and hesitant too. We’ve got some tips to troubleshoot your situation and get your pulling down the trail in no time.
1 - If your dog isn’t pulling, don’t move. You might be inclined to coax your dog forward letting the bungee line go slack, but you’re inevitably teaching your dog it’s ok not to pull. Trust us! Your dog LOVES moving, be patient, they will move pulling you forward and that’s when you want to go with them. It might only be a step or two at a time in the beginning, that’s ok. It takes time to get comfortable with a new skill.
2 - Train with others - One of the best ways for ourselves and our dogs to grow in harness dog sports is to learn from others. Train with friends. Join a local club. Hire a coach or mentor to help you and your dog progress in the sport. Being mentored for both you and your dog is an excellent way to overcome little hiccups and bumps along your journey and to set you up for success.
3 - Does your gear fit correctly - Do a double check on the shape and sizing of your dog pulling harness for your dog. Have you ever tried running in shoes that are too big or too small? A harness that is too large will slide around on their body which can be both uncomfortable and unsupportive for your dog. In the same way, a harness that is too small or too short may also contribute to discomfort.
4 - Medically is something else wrong - It’s possible your dog isn’t pulling because the act of pulling causes discomfort due to something medical. If your dog isn’t pulling as expected, it’s never a bad idea to schedule a check in with your vet to rule out any underlying health issues that are preventing your dog from enjoying their time on the trail.
5 - Asking too much too soon - Harness sports require both physical and mental work for your dog. While they’re exceptionally fun so we can say “work” in quotation marks, it’s still work. It takes time to build up capacity. Your dog might have the capacity to go for hours running loose off leash yet still need to build up their endurance and capacity to run in harness a little at a time. It’s possible if your dog isn’t pulling, it’s because they’ve hit the mental and/or physical capacity for the day. Dial back the ask for a little while and let your dog build up their endurance a little at a time.