Calling all owners of dogs who like to pull on the lead! In part one of our step-by-step guide to stopping pulling we looked at when pulling is caused by excitement and how to promote calmer walks.
Today, in part two of our guide we’ll look at dogs who pull because it is self-rewarding – pulling gets them to where they want to go and much faster than if they walk at Mum or Dad’s pace
So today let’s start by looking at the top 4 ways to convince your dog that staying close to YOU is more rewarding than pulling ahead (get your copy of the free cheat sheet below!)
- Check your dog LOVES his name – It sounds silly but this can be the key to unlocking loose lead walking. Make sure he loves his name: At home take a small bowl of your dog’s food/treats. Throw one piece away from you so your dog has to go and get it. As he turns back towards you call his name and as he runs towards you throw another treat away for him to get. Repeat a few times a day for a week. Once your dog has a great love of his name start to incorporate this in your walking. Walk a couple of steps and then call his name, when he looks up at you reward with a treat from your hand. Repeat until he understands walking close to you is a GREAT idea.
- Loose lead walking without a lead – Sometimes using a lead can be stressful for dog and owner, especially if you have a dog who pulls so take the pressure off and practice without: In your house pop some treats in your pocket or treat pouch. Call your dog over and when he reaches your side reward him with a verbal cue (e.g yes or good) and a piece of food. Move away a step and wait for your dog to join you again, reward again. Give a couple of words of verbal encouragement if needed. When your dog starts to understand the game move away a few more steps at a time or pick up the pace. Eventually progress to using a lead for this game too.
- Look into my eyes – Everyone loves to see a dog trotting along looking adoringly up at their owner but aside from looking cute, this also has a great function. Look into my eyes: is an easy thing to teach but is great for increasing focus on you and therefore making you more interesting than that squirrel over there! Take a bowl of your dog’s food or a toy and call their name. When they look into your eyes immediately reward them. Then wait for the next eye contact and reward again. Repeat. Over time increase the amount of time you want them to maintain eye contact before rewarding. When they are getting good add a cue like “watch me” or “look” and start using this on your walks to get your dog’s attention.
- Reward Calm Behaviour – We can be very good at saying what we don’t want from our dogs but less good at saying what we do. So let’s rewards calmness: Whenever your dog demonstrates some calm behaviour on a walk (sitting when asked to, or walking without pulling for a second, reward them (a piece of food, a quick play, verbal praise etc.) Reward what you do want rather than punishing what you don’t!
Good luck with your loose lead walking!
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Just as a paw’s up: Next week we’ll be looking at the step-by-step guide to stimulating your dog’s mind and building their independence!