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What to Do If Your Dog Is Stronger Than You

Get a dog, they said. The walks will be serene, they said.

My dog’s interpretation of a “walk” is more like an opportunity to amputate my arm, and I can’t say he hasn’t come close to succeeding. Yep, my dog is stronger than me (and probably a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, too). If you can relate, here’s how to walk a dog that’s stronger than you, according to the masters.

Train ‘Em

While challenging, training your big boi to listen and walk slowly is the most responsible approach. “With a dog who’s stronger than you, it’s vitally important to establish clear communication through positive, reinforcement-based training,” says Jessica Pierce, bioethicist and author of numerous books about pets. “The dog should learn to walk on a loose lead and to stand or sit in place when asked. When walking a very strong dog, people need to be especially vigilant about watching for triggers that might invite the dog to bolt — deer, squirrels, another dog, a cyclist, etc. — and should ask the dog for a sit and stay before the dog gets aroused by the trigger.”

Gear Up

Next on your list of options is to invest in some kind of no-pull dog harness, which will help you have a better handle on your extremely beefy pooch. “Some people recommend leashes like the Gentle Leader that go around the dog’s nose and put downward pressure on the nose if the dog pulls,” Pierce says. “I don’t particularly care for these, because they’re more like a Band-Aid or replacement for training, and I rarely see dogs who look like they enjoy having a nylon strap over their nose. I prefer harnesses to collars in general for leashed walking. There are harnesses that have the leash attachment on the front of the dog’s chest, and these are designed to reduce tension on the leash because the dog is pulled sideways if he or she puts pressure on the harness. These may help some dogs, but again, aren’t a substitute for training.”

Pump Iron

If worse comes to worst, you may just need to show your dog wassup and get stronger, bro. “The best exercise for getting stronger than your dog is a horizontal row,” says decorated personal trainer Jonathan Jordan, who walks his own large beast. “I’m a big fan of using a Monster band (or any resistance band). These are great if you’re at home or don’t have access to a gym with a traditional big cable system. You can also use a dumbbell, but for dogs specifically, I like the band because it’s closer to a leash.” Check out Jordan showing us how it’s done below.

Good luck, and, uh, does anyone have a spare arm?