Image courtesy of @gemma3690
If your dog is pulling like a steam train at the end of the lead, and you feel like you need an arm brace every time you take them out, then I’m here to tell you: you are not alone!
Most new dog owners really struggle with lead walks, and those seasoned professionals who have their dog trotting happily at their heel look like witches and wizards. But, what most people don’t know, is that those dreamy loose-lead walks are only a few steps away.
When you break it down, loose-lead walking comprises of two main elements:
- The dog choosing to engage with you, the handler
- The dog choosing to disengage from the surrounding environment
Simple, right? But how do you achieve this?
First of all, consider your dog’s motivations. For example, humans work to get paid with money; what does your dog work for? Dry biscuits may not cut it right now, but what about other treats? All of the treats we have for sale on YourDog’sClub are great for motivation – my personal favourites are the Nature’s Menu Real Meaty Treats: every dog I’ve ever met has gone bonkers for these!
Now you’ve got your treats, you want to use them whenever your furry companion looks at you. You want to make engagingwith you worth their while. You can do this when you’re out on your walks, but don’t forget to practise this at home first. In the home, you can control your environment, and you’re naturally one of the most exciting things around – meaning your pup is guaranteed to look at you. Out of the house, you’re in direct competition with smelly lampposts, the pigeon on the fenceline, and the dog passing on the other side of the road – so you need to build up your value at home first.
The trick to doing this is partly environment (so house vs outside), but also patience. You want your dog to feel like they can explore and investigate the big outside world, so be patient whilst they do this. Then, when they finally check back in with you, reward that! After a few repetitions, your dog will start to realise that every time they disengage from their surroundings, and engage with you, they get paid!
But, sometimes, this doesn’t go to plan. Some dogs get so wrapped up in the outside world that they simply forget to check in, even if you’ve practised this at home. So, what do you do in this situation?
Again, it comes back to patience. You simply dig in your heels, brace yourself, and…wait. Your dog will keep pulling, but, soon enough, your pup will realise that pulling ahead does nothing to get them to where they want to go. They’ll look around (hopefully back to you), and when you pay them for that with a tasty treat and moving forward, they’ll realise that the secret to getting to the park ahead is sticking close to you.
It may take a few repetitions for them to get the hang of it… but once they do? Magic.
If you want to chat more about loose lead walking and how you can achieve this, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Alyssa Ralph, Your Dog’s Club Guru