Lead pulling: Stopping my dog pulling on the lead
Is the daily chore of walking your dog something you dread? You are not alone with this very common behaviour issue of the dog lead pulling. We can change that behaviour so you have a dog who becomes good at loose lead walking. Your happy and the dog still gets to where they want to go. Do you have lead walking issues and live in Wimborne, Broadstone, Corfe Mullen, Merley and surrounding areas? Muttley Solutions can help turn lead pulling into loose lead walking.
On a daily basis on streets and parks, in fact anywhere where dogs are walked, you will see this. The dog out front with a tight lead and the owner dutifully following behind. The dog has a purpose and that is to get somewhere, not sure where, but the owner will follow. Suddenly the dog stops to have the regular sniffing stop and the owner can catch breath.
Off he goes again pulling the owner along who sometimes will shout ‘heel’ or ‘no’, but to no avail.
Dogs not born to not pull on a lead
Dogs are not born with the understanding they have to have a lead on. It is a skill which needs to be taught. Also dogs are not geared to walk in a straight line at a human walking pace. Again this is a skill which needs to be taught.
We expect the moment we put a lead on our dog they will magically obey all commands and know what the word heel means. This behaviour issue of lead pulling ranks with a poor recall as the common complaints owners will say ruins their experience as a dog owner.
Imagine the scenario. The dog pulls you all the way to the park. Then you let it off the lead and it totally ignores you all the time you are there. When its time to come home it takes you another 30 minutes to get the dog to come back to you. Then you have to play a catching game to get it on the lead. On the way back home the dog pulls you all the way. For the dog they have had a great time and self rewarded themselves so pulling and ignoring you becomes even more established.
We can help stop your dog leash pulling
Does this sound familiar to you because this is the reality for many dog owners? However, this does not need to be the case. With the right techniques, support and CPPR (Consistency, Persistence, Patience and Repetition) we can turn lead pulling into loose lead walking.
A big philosophy of Muttley Solutions is that you, the owner, holds the key to success. Most of my work involves getting you to re-think your approach to your dog. When you can show your dog you know what you are doing and what you want then the messages you give to your dog will be clearer and precise. I have one exercise where you use the lead with no dog attached to it so it becomes muscle memory for you. When you can get it right then the dog will. We teach dogs that pulling on the lead is rewarding. Therefore, you need to be able to confidently teach them it is not!! I will support you on this journey
Being realistic about training the dog not to pull
Okay we have to accept that we cannot be in training mode all the time…..we need to get somewhere!! Therefore, I am happy to support you with the use of a head collar for those days you need to take your dog out, but cannot do the training. It is perhaps the biggest complaint by clients that they cannot get anywhere because the dog will pull. Slowly training goes out of the window.
Therefore I will discuss about using a head collar on the days you need to go out. This ensures the days you are training, your dog has not been learning bad habits on the non training sessions. We can discuss this approach when we meet. Some trainers will disagree with this approach. My rational is we need to make training realistic or I am setting you both up to fail!! A head collar is not a substitute for correct training so I will not advise the long term use of it.
Dog pulling on the lead training
Lead walking and your puppy
So you have just got the cute ball of fur home and you put the lead on for the first time. Guess what happens? The puppy runs ahead and suddenly the lead goes tight. You don’t want to hurt the dog so you follow. This is your puppy’s first lesson in ‘how to pull on a lead and get the owner to follow’. Does this sound familiar?
As with all training quicker results will be achieved the sooner you start with your dog. The first time a lead is put on a puppy training should begin. If not the puppy will soon reward itself by pulling and you follow. This only needs to happen a couple of times and the puppy will learn to pull as it gets to where it wants to go.
It may appear cute this bounding small bundle of fur pulling on the lead. It wont be so funny when a rather large dog is now at the end of the lead and has learnt that when it pulls you follow. A better plan is to never put your puppy in a position where we teach it to pull.
Muttley Solutions offers one to one sessions with your puppy which will set in place the correct way to start to show the dog that pulling is not rewarding.It is possible to have a puppy which walks on a loose lead, pays attention to its owner and does not walk off in front to do its own thing. Remember the puppy is the sum of what we teach or don’t teach them!!
Here is a clip of a 12 week old puppy starting to learn being next to her owners leg is very rewarding. A behaviour which soon becomes their default.
Lead walking with your older dog
Okay so things have just got a little more challenging. This is not now about teaching the dog something new, but undoing bad habits and teaching something new. We have to show your dog that what was once rewarding is no longer.
However, the reality is that when help is sought with Lead Pulling the dog is already very established at this skill. It will take a lot of patience and hard work on the part of the owner to turn this around. We need to establish good leadership skills with the owner.
Lead pulling can be a symptom of other training issues
Often lead pulling is a symptom of other issues and most likely the dog won’t have a recall and there maybe other issues present. The truth is I get called to stop a dog pulling and we have to take several steps away from that to sort out the relationship between the owner and the dog. I need to be sure the dog understands what the owner is trying to teach them. Likewise I need the owner to understand where the dog is at.
It is when we have a level playing field of understanding between the dog and owner can I start to address the reason you called me for…..the dog pulling on the lead.
My own dog was a prolific lead puller. How did I train him to loose lead walk?
To make you feel better my own dog was a prolific puller!! What do I mean by this? He pulled so hard he choked and made himself sick. Dogs who pull like this will damage their throats. I was his 4th owner by the time he was 1 year old. Lots of bad habits taught and pulling was a key one. It was embarrassing to have a dog like this and be a dog trainer. I stopped wearing my uniform when I took him out so I have been in your shoes.
So being a professional dog trainer it must have been easy to turn my lead pulling dog into a loose lead walking dog? Sadly no it wasn’t. There are no quick fixes. However, when I started to look at the problem as my problem not Henry’s then I started to understand what the issues were.
Communication between dog and owner key to stopping lead pulling
I realised we had a communication issue because to get him to do what I needed him to do I needed to open a line of communication we could both understand. Thankfully one concept I do understand and that will be key to getting you started.
I put a plan in place and started the road of turning a dog who had been highly rewarded to pull on a lead to a dog who is about 95% there on a loose lead. it is about understanding what makes a particular dog tick and play to that. Henry is very ball driven so that soon became the driver and a key tool in changing is behaviour.
When I got Henry he was a lead puller, no recall, jumping up, demanding, suffers separation distress, doesn’t like travelling in a car. Basically one well messed up dog by the age of 1. We have worked hard on developing our relationship so that I control everything which is rewarding. This means I become an important person in his life and worth listening too. He is work in progress. Here is a recent video of him working in my training field doing some whistle and hand signal work.