Do you take the dog for a walk or does your dog take you? Most dog owners have been there at one time or another: Your doggie gets so excited about walkies that it just can’t wait to explore everything that it sees or smells, often dragging you helplessly along behind it. It’s physically hard on you, and it can be dangerous for your dog, so how do you reset the balance of control, and guide your dog in the right direction? Here are some of our top tips.
- Dogs tug on the lead for a variety of reasons, including excitement (‘I’m going to the park!’), control (‘I want us to go to the park more quickly!!’), and fear (‘The traffic scared me and I want to go home now.’). It helps to understand what’s motivating the behaviour first, and also to look at how you behave when you are with your dog. Do you feel in control? Are you communicating that to your dog through your posture and calm response to his behaviour? A few small changes in posture and attitude can make a big difference.
- When you go for your walks, make sure you have the dog on a short, but not tight, lead. A dog will instinctively pull against something that is pulling it and the solution to this problem is not to pull the dog back in. As soon as you feel your dog pulling on the lead, simply stop, holding the lead in both hands, and wait until the dog stops pulling you and until you have his attention, then move off again. If he continues to pull, repeat the stopping process one more time.
- If he continues to pull, stop, turn around and walk in the opposite direction, keeping the lead short but not tight. Your dog will not like this, especially if he knows you were on your way to his favourite park or running territory!
- By this time, your dog is likely to be getting pretty confused, and you may be feeling a bit foolish, but don’t stop. Your dog will probably soon start to pull again, even if you are walking away from your original destination. If this happens, repeat steps 2 and 3.
- If the dog starts to walk without pulling on the lead, give him a treat and praise him! After a few repeats of steps 2, 3, and 4, the dog should be beginning to realise that he gets further on his walk by not pulling on the lead. Keep treating him and praising him every time he does it right.
- You may find that you have a fast learner, who gets it almost straight away, but if he takes a few weeks to get the hang of things, don’t worry! Be consistent with the training and you’ll soon find that walks turn into a pleasure, not a race.
There are some useful products that can help you discourage your dog from pulling on the lead. The Company of Animals Non-Pull Harness is one of our most popular harnesses. It has a gently padded design that tightens around your dog’s body if it pulls, gently deterring it from repeating the behaviour.
We also stock a range of products from the Halti brand, that are specifically designed to help you to train your dog to walk on the lead. The design of the Halti Dog Training Harness takes the pressure off your dog’s sensitive neck, whilst allowing you to firmly guide your dog in the direction you want it to go. The harness is also suitable for use with puppies, for early training. The versatile Halti Training Lead can be used in combination with the harness or on its own. It can be used in 8 different ways and its adjustable length makes it ideal for training your dog to walk ‘to heel’.
The popular Halti Head Collar is another gentle way to train your dog not to pull that does not put any pressure on the dog’s neck. As the dog pulls on the lead, the head collar is designed to tighten so that the dog’s mouth closes. The collar loosens as soon as the dog stops pulling.
For all these products, plus many others that can help with training your dog, please take a look in our dog shop. Happy walkies!