Company of Animals

Pulling on the lead – Step 2

Loose lead walking

The golden rule for teaching your dog to walk on a loose lead is not to punish him for pulling but to make the act of pulling unsuccessful. A good idea is to practise training in the garden before your walk so that they are naturally a little calmer than they would be in the park.

Note: when you are going to remove your lead and allow your dog some freedom (whether at home or during a walk) the lead must be slack before you remove it. Battling with your dog to unclip their lead whilst they are pulling desperately to get away just reinforces to him that pulling is successful!

Initially don’t attempt to go for a long walk; a short, successful walk is what you should aim for. Have your lead long enough that your dog can walk comfortably beside you whilst it remains slack, too short a lead will mean that the dog feels pressure all the time so it will be difficult for them to differentiate between pulling and non-pulling.

Set off walking at a comfortable but brisk pace; use your dog’s name encouragingly to invite them to come with you. As your dog walks beside you praise him or her enthusiastically and aim for just a few successful steps initially before you reward. The key to reliable training is to build on success, don’t just keep going until your dog makes a mistake, praise and reward when they are getting it right!

As soon as your dog begins to create any tension in the lead (by starting to pull) you should immediately move backwards whilst encouraging your dog to come back to your side. Continue to move backwards until the lead is once again slack, at which point you should immediately walk forward again. The idea is to calmly teach that a tight lead actually results in moving in the opposite direction than that your dog’s wants to go, as soon as the lead becomes slack forward movement recommences! Happy days!

Fiona Whelan ~ Pet Behaviourist

Fiona has been working at the Training and Behaviour Centre as a behaviour specialist since 2002, and previously ran her own training and behaviour establishment in Lincolnshire for seven years so has a wealth of experience as a behaviour counsellor.