Loose Lead Training
Lead training top tips
Loose lead training
Believe it or not, dogs that pull on the lead while being walked do not want to be the leader of the pack or be dominant over their human. In actual fact, dogs just love to be outside, and the walk is a stimulating part of their day – so their desire to rush ahead is very strong.
A lead is vital for safety, but it can be frustrating for the dog. Being tied to a person isn’t natural for a dog. That being said, all dogs should be taught how to walk on the lead in a positive well behaved way without being jerked, yanked, choked or even shocked, so that walks can be enjoyable for everyone.
If you are overpowered by your dog’s pulling and can’t stand teaching for fear of being pulled over, there are humane solutions to help modify the pulling while you teach your dog to walk in a positive way.
A chest-led harness is a perfect training aid, as it takes the pressure off the dog’s sensitive neck area by distributing it more evenly around the body. When the lead is attached to a ring located on the chest strap and your dog pulls, the harness will turn his body around rather than allowing him to go forward. This harness is great for anyone who needs extra help because safety has to come first.
Some dogs are so strong that a canine headcollar is needed, which acts the same way a halter does on a horse. Whenever the dog pulls, it automatically brings his head around. Headcollars can help in severe cases, especially with elderly people or pregnant women, but dogs need time to get used to them, as they can be uncomfortable at first.
Avoid the use of choke or prong collars, as these devices cause pain and significant physical damage to your dog’s neck.
The stop and be still technique
Lead pulling is often successful for the dog because the owner inadvertently reinforces the pulling by allowing the dog to get to where he wants to go when he pulls. But you can change this by changing the consequence for your dog.
Whenever he pulls, immediately stop and stand completely still until the lead relaxes because your dog either takes a step back or turns around to give you focus. When the lead is nicely relaxed, proceed on your walk. Repeat this as necessary.
The reverse direction technique
If you find the preceding technique too slow, you can try the reverse direction method.
When your dog pulls, issue a “let’s go” cue, turn away from him, and walk off in the other direction without jerking on the lead. You can avoid yanking by motivating your dog to follow you with an excited voice to get his attention.
When he is following you and the lead is relaxed, turn back and continue on your way. It may take a few turns, but your vocal cues and body language will make it clear that pulling will not be reinforced with forward movement, whereas walking calmly by your side or even slightly in front of you on a loose lead will allow your dog to get to where he wants to go.
You can also reinforce your dog’s decision to walk close to you by giving him a motivating reward when he is by your side.
Vary the picture
Once your dog is listening to you, you can vary the picture even more by becoming unpredictable yourself. This requires your dog to listen to you all the time because he never knows when you might turn or where you are going to go next.
Instead of turning away from him when you give the “let’s go” cue, reverse direction by turning toward him. You can turn in a circle or do a figure eight. Any of these variations will get your dog’s attention.
Don’t forget to praise him for doing well, because the better you make him feel when he is walking close to you, the more he will choose to do so.