Lead Shyness

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How to train a dog that won't walk on the lead
When I went to obedience classes the trainer used to give me all the lead shy dogs to train.  Mostly these were small dogs that had been carried in by their owners.  They simply wouldn't walk at all on the lead.  As soon as the dog was put on the ground it either sat down and wouldn't move or it pulled and struggled against the lead.  Some rolled over and fought like mad to get away. All of the owners were totally convinced that their dogs couldn't be trained.  I can honestly say that I never failed once with any of these dogs and really it was so kind and easy to teach them to walk nicely.   Here's how I did it.

When a dog is fighting against the lead like this it's usually because he's afraid.  Often the lead training has become a battleground with the handler getting more and more frustrated. 

The method I used works better if the dog is away from its own territory.  You need to have a friend with you, preferably someone the dog doesn't know too well and who is willing to help.

Ask your friend to hold the lead while you walk a little way away from the dog.  Turn and face the dog and call it to you in an excited voice.  The dog's natural instinct is to be with its owner so you are using this instinct to help the dog overcome its fear of the lead.  Ask your friend to follow the dog as it comes to you.  The friend should keep hold of the lead but try not to pull it tight.  The dog should be so keen to join you  that it forgets all about the lead for the time being so make a big fuss of him and give loads of praise.

Repeat this a few times giving praise every time the dog comes to you.  Now you need to do this exercise again but as the dog comes towards you start praising but keep walking away.  Ask your friend to follow whilst holding the lead and keep walking and praising.  Now reach behind and have the friend pass the lead to you without making a fuss.  Keep walking and praising as you do this and make sure your friend is still following.    When you all start to feel confident ask the friend to drop back a little and finally ask him or her to stop while you keep walking and praising.

By now the dog will be walking on the lead for the first time without any fear.  Try stopping and starting again but don't try to pull the dog with you.  Just walk away and call him.  Start praising as soon as the dog moves.  You and your dog should now be delighted.   You've cracked the problem of lead shyness. 

It's a pity that when I did this at training classes the trainer never came into the back room to watch.  He always looked surprised when we emerged with a happy little dog walking nicely on the lead.

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