Our friends at Your Dog magazine have given us some great advice on lead training. If you own a dog who constantly pulls, you’re not alone. Pulling on the lead is one of the most common problems people have with their dogs.
Why does my dog pull on the lead?
There are four main reasons for this:
- Medium and larger-sized dogs naturally move at a faster pace than humans and so find walking slowly without using the lead for support difficult.
- If a dog’s not getting enough exercise, he can be excited and full of energy when he goes out.
- Dogs are enthusiastic creatures and can’t wait to get to where they’re going.
- The dog has never been trained not to pull on the lead.
Are you walking fast enough for your dog to be able to move comfortably by your side? Practise lots of slow heelwork, mixed with faster-paced heelwork, at home or in a safe place, without a lead, to help your dog learn to balance without using the lead for support.
The good news is that training a dog not to pull is very simple; the bad news is the commitment needed to do it once he’s learned to pull! Lead training does take time and patience.
Realistically, you should be thinking of weeks of working on this every time you have your dog on the lead, rather than days. It’s worth it, though, because it’s safer for you and far better for dogs, who can suffer long-term health problems from constant lead pulling.
How to stop your dog pulling
To train your dog not to pull on the lead, try the following tips:
- Start with lots of treats and by clipping on the lead — a long training lead is helpful here. Hold the lead at the end, and any time it’s loose give your dog a treat. If the lead is tight, no treat. Don’t pull him, just wait, and the minute it goes slack reward with a treat.
- Now start walking. If the lead is loose continue walking (if he comes really close to you, give a treat), but if it gets tight, stop, and slowly walk backwards. As soon as the lead is loose again, continue walking forwards.
- Once he understands that the only way he’ll ever get to go where he wants to go is on a loose lead, move on to having a favourite toy at the end of the garden or room and start walking towards it. If he wants it, he’s going to have to have a loose lead because if it gets tight, you’ll stop, and slowly reverse. Once the lead is loose, his reward is getting his toy.
- This method only works, however, if you never let him pull again and do this every time the lead is on. If he believes that pulling ever works to get him to where he wants to go, he will continue to do it.