His Dog Is Lunging At Traffic While On Leash: Here’s What To Do

Larry’s Border Collie was lunging at traffic while on the leash.  

Larry says: “My Border Collie is 6 months-old and when I am walking him by any road with traffic he keeps lunging at the moving traffic and is oblivious to everything except the cars or busses that pass.  It makes walking him an unhappy experience.  Please help!  If he cannot hear traffic, he walks lovely. Regards, Larry.”

Adam replies:  Hi, Larry.  You’re going to want to start by using the pinch collar and the “attention-getter”/loose leash technique.

I go into extensive detail about how to properly fit and use the pinch collar (and why it’s a superior training device) in the book. I also talk about the loose leash exercise, but if you’re more of a visual learner, check out my video, here:

Teach Your Dog To Walk On A Loose Leash — Video

Keep me posted.
– Adam

Lynn adds:

Keep in mind your dog’s natural instincts and drives as well. The herding instinct is actually a modified prey drive, in which the dog stalks and “hunts” whatever it is trying to herd. The only difference is that, with most trained herders, the final act of actually killing the animal (sheep, cattle, etc etc–ANY kind of livestock) has been nullified. Herding breeds can have a tendency to bite because either they have never been taught that it is wrong to do (which can go for any dog), or because they do that as a part of their herding behavior.

A walk is usually NOT enough exercise for these types of dogs.

Obedience is a start and definitely a required foundation to start teaching the dog manners and how to behave out in public. But if you have access to organized dog sports, or even can get him started in herding or some type of activity to use his brain (border collies are GREAT at scentwork, believe it or not), you can really help him take off.

A 9 Month-old German Shepard and Pit bull-mix That Pulls On The Leash

KPStorms writes to me: “I have a 9 month old shepherd /pit bull mix we adopted from the shelter when he was about 6 months old. The problem is he pulls me like crazy he weighs about 56 lbs. and is extremely strong . I’m a big guy but I have a hard time controlling him. When ever he sees another animal ,a bike ,or anyone walks by he lunges at them/it . I don’t think he wants to fight ,he just wants to play . I have a pinch collar and I can barely put one finger through. I have tried walking in the oppisit direction I’ve tried just putting him in the down stay ,and nothing seems to work .I’ve tried the correction thing (yanking on the leash) it does not phase him . He also does this screaming thing that sounds like your killing him . please help.

Adam replies: Hi, KPStorms:

When you look at the pinch collar, can you confirm that the chain part forms a triangle and the chain is not crossed over on itself?

Look at this image (below). See how the chain lies flat (it’s not crossed over on itself). Also, when you do your about-face turn (right about) you’ll need to use your arms to reach forward toward the dog to create slack, then do the turn and take a leap step in the opposite direction.

Get back to me on the above issues, and we’ll go from there.
– Adam

Lynn (DPTrainer2) adds:

You might also take a look at your technique as well as what Adam suggested. Are you doing the jerk-and-release action or are you pulling him back on the pinch collar?

One thing I would focus on in his case is to start with the basic lesson before exposing him to the sorts of distractions that drive him wild. In the case of the Great Dane, you’ll notice I recommended to take the dog home and do some work. I suspect part of the reason Adam’s advice worked better was that the dog already KNEW what a correction was and understood what it meant. Oftentimes, a dog that has never received a correction will do one of four things when it first receives one for any reason (misbehavior, missed command, etc) : look around like nothing happened, respond appropriately by stopping the misbehavior/obeying the command, scream in absolute horror because it just experienced something new, or come right back at what it perceives to be the source of the correction and all but say “Care to try that again?”

I worked a dog that was similar to yours. He was one that would lock onto other dogs that even looked his way, and bound out to play with them. Teaching him Heel was actually the easy part, since we could work in a low-distraction environment.

This is after only one session of learning the basic command and teaching him his role when I said “Heel.”


(You’ll also notice that he was a leash-grabber, and you’ll see me correcting him for that partway through the clip.)

Teaching the basics is not the time to bring another dog into the room or toss out one of the Kongs on the rack. This is time for him to learn.

Using that obedience helped when I took him around other dogs, since he understood that his focus was to be on me–the more hepped up he became, the more s-l-o-w I became (similar to the whole “The angrier the other person gets, the quieter your voice becomes” mantra). As I slowed down and he moved ahead, not only would I do the about-turns, but I would also pivot to my left and use both hands over the dog’s back to correct BACKWARDS towards his tail. I wish there was a good example of that in here, but I don’t think this is one where I do that much, if at all (I’ll try to find one and get it uploaded.) The about-turns will teach him to stay where he can see me, but the corrections backward also help remind him to move back to a position where he can see me and set himself up for success.

There was one more thing that really snapped him out of his “locking on” to other dogs if they looked at him. I had about 2 seconds to correct him, and I had to do it right…if I gave him one he didn’t respect, he’d take that moment to jump out and start dancing/barking/etc, and I could give him one he found motivational…but if I gave him TWO quick ones in a row, it really back his plans. (Imagine popcorn popping: it’s a quick pop-pop. If you feel like you’re trying to haul a piece of furniture across the room, you’re using too much muscle–the goal is to startle the dog and get his attention back on you, not physically move him.) You’d be surprised how flabbergasted they are when they expect one correction and know they can handle it, but when another comes along right after that, it’s like us tripping over both feet instead of just one. It doesn’t make them AFRAID…it just makes the message clearer, and when focus is back on you, praise.

Try and avoid forcing him into something, whether it’s physically holding him at your side or making him go into a down position. It’s going to increase the stress of the situation and just frustrate the both of you.

Tips For Teaching Your Dog To Walk On A Loose Leash

Many of you know that for the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on a new dog training video series. There will be five new videos, and it will be combined with a number of other products that I currently sell as one big, colossal, super dog training information package. Or you’ll be able to buy the individual components separately.

The first of these five new videos has already been completed and I thought I’d share some brief observations that were included in this information-packed-teaching-tool, titled, “How To Teach Any Dog To Walk On A Loose Leash (And Never Pull Again!)”

1.) When you hold the leash, you need to keep your hands down by your waist.

2.) You need to walk at a much faster pace than most people expect, in the beginning.

3.) Once the dog is walking on a loose leash in one location, you must then work the technique in different areas, too. Usually about 7 to 9 different locations before the dog extrapolates and automatically walks on a loose leash, anywhere you go!

4.) When you turn (the explanation for this technique is also explained in my book, for those of you who haven’t purchased it yet!) … you need to really come out of that turn as if you just stepped on a bumble bee. This is necessary in order to give your technique that, “Two objects moving in opposite directions” feeling.

5.) You must incorporate sudden stops. If the dog keeps walking then you know that he’s not really paying attention, and this will give you another opportunity to do your right-about turn.