Pulling on the lead

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How to show a dog that it's possible to walk nicely on the lead

Here's a no fuss method of dog training that shows a dog that it's possible to walk on the lead without pulling.  You don't need anything other that a flat collar, a long lead and patience and kindness. There really is no need to turn lead training into a battleground where you and the dog are pulling against each other all the time.  Unfortunately that's exactly what happens if your dog pulls and you pull back again. Dog training is all about showing a dog what you want it to do and giving lots of praise.  Your dog will never learn if he doesn't understand what it is you're trying to teach him.

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Here Jamie's walking on a nice loose lead but don't be fooled.  He hasn't always been like this. There was a time when he nearly yanked my arms off if I tried to walk him on the lead and he's a big dog.  I had to spend some time patiently teaching him how to walk nicely.

 

 

When you have two dogs it may be best to teach each one separately before walking them on leads together.  If anything Sasha pulls much harder than Jamie and she's very determined to get to where she's going.  She also walks much more quickly than Jamie but but with patient training she has learned to walk on a loose lead.  When there's nothing exciting going on and we're just out for a walk she will slow her pace so that the lead remains slack.

The methods I use don't teach heelwork.  The dogs are  not being nagged to heel all the time and they aren't expected to pay attention and look at me as they might have to do in an obedience class. This would be too wearing on both dog and handler.  We're just out for a quiet stroll down the country lanes without doing anything in particular.
 

 

Here's one easy method I've used to stop a dog pulling.  In these photos Sasha's pulling quite hard on the lead.  She may have seen something exciting to chase or maybe she's fed up with me wanting some photos and not letting her off the lead!

Here's a quick way to stop a dog pulling like this. Take the lead in both hands as shown below and place it across the front of the dog's chest.  You need to have it fairly low down to be effective.

 

Encourage the dog to walk forward.  In the picture on the left, the lead is a bit too high up on the chest and this makes it less effective.     In the picture on the right I've moved the lead lower down and now Sasha's stopped pulling and she's looking back at me.  My immediate reaction is to praise.  "What a good girl!"

 

 

Continue walking and each time the dog pulls just use a very gentle pressure on the part of the lead that is across the chest to rebalance her again.  Be really quick with the praise when the lead goes slack.  "What a good girl."  A dog will soon learn that walking on a slack lead earns praise.  They should never be punished or scolded for pulling.  It does much more harm than good to make a dog anxious and they will pull even harder if they're worried.  What you want is a happy walk with lots of fun and praise.
 

I hope this technique will be helpful to you if you have a pulling dog.  I've included this line drawing to help you see how the lead goes.   The method works well with a broad chested dog like Jamie and taller dogs like Sasha.  If you have a smaller dog or you don't get on with this method then there are other ways to show your dog that loose lead walking is more fun.    

You can also use  a training harness or a headcollar if you're taking your dog for a longer walk where he must be kept on the lead.  In the photo below we're at Pencarrow House. It's a stately home where dogs can run riot in a huge field but not on the narrow paths around the gardens.  Sasha's wearing her Trixie harness while Jamie walks comfortably on a flat collar and lead.


 

 

You can buy Halti training leads at very reasonable prices in the Doggie Shop.  The Halti lead is perfect for this type of control and I can thoroughly recommend it.

If you have a small dog or you can't get along with this method then why not try a halti or a training harness.  We have had a lot of success with these and they are well worth a try. 
 

Road Testing the Halti harness 
The Halti harness is based on the same principles as the double lead method above.   I bought one for Jamie and I've reviewed it here.

Road testing the Easy Walk harness
I bought one of these for Sasha as she can pull for England.  This is the review of how we got on.

 

The Doggie Shop has a selection of haltis, harnesses and gentle leaders and you will also find training harnesses on ebay.  A couple of live auctions are shown below.

 

Finally, if you've tried everything and you still feel that you're getting nowhere with your dog training don't force it.  Find a good dog trainer who can watch and tell you what's going wrong.  All dogs are different and you need to find what's right for both of you. However,  I can promise you that whatever method you use, praise and reward will have a much more lasting effect than correction. 

 

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