How to: Loose Lead Walk

How can I get my dog to stop pulling? Walking with my dog is no fun anymore.

I hear this quite regularly and there is often a number of reasons for a dog to pull on the lead, and it is difficult to identify the main reason for it without actually seeing the dog, but there are things you can do to help your dog to become more accustomed to walking with a loose lead.

Loose Lead Walking means different things to different people. For some it means walking at heel without deviation, for others it means simply walking without having their arm pulled off. The actual position of the dog is a matter of personal preference and what is acceptable to you.

Where do I start?

First stages you can do at home, you can start as soon as your dog arrives home and is settled in. You don’t even need a lead!

With a handful of treats, reward your dog for being near you. If your dog is close to you, they are in the circle of fun, good stuff appears when they are near to you. Move around the house and garden, use the cue, “walk close” or similar, keep rewarding the close proximity to you.

Add a long line attached to a harness and carry on.

Once you have close walking with a long line, you can change to your normal lead. We recommend a double ended training lead as they can be used at different lengths and attached to different parts of the harness or collar and harness.

Practice on the drive, on the street outside your home, don’t go far. You are playing a game not hiking up and down the road. Don’t change the locations too quickly. All those distractions can distract from you and what you want your dog to do. Change directions regularly go forwards, backwards left and right. Stagger around as if you are drunk, keep rewarding the dog for being close to you and following your lead.

Keep it short. If you’re having fun, your dog will too. If he gets stressed, you will too. The lead is a delicate connection between the mind of the dog and the mind of the guardian. So keep it friendly, keep it relaxed, keep it fun.

Be consistent. If you allow your dog to pull sometimes, they will learn that it works sometimes, and learning to walk with a loose lead will take much longer. Use enrichment activities and play to help your dog to relax, before and after training sessions. As always the more often you train the quicker the results will be seen.

If you want help or guidance, talk to a professional trainer.

Alex Rayworth is an IMDT accredited trainer. She has worked with rescue dogs for many years, and currently lives with Kylo and Draxx.

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