Puppy Pulling On The Lead
Puppies pull on the lead because they want to walk faster or go in a different direction to us. Since it is usually impossible to allow them to go where they want to go or keep up with them, we need to teach them to walk with us at our pace and not to pull on the lead. Puppies that walk nicely on the lead without pulling often get more walks and are a pleasure to take out.
If your puppy is older than 6 months of age, go to ‘Pulling On The Lead’
Most puppies are kept on a lead when going out for a walk to keep them safe on the road until they get to a place where they can safely be let off. This usually means that when the puppy first comes out of the house, he is full of pent-up unexpended energy, especially once he has learnt to enjoy walks and running free. This is not a good time to teach him to walk with you as the desire to get use up their energy is strong. Instead, choose a time when your puppy does not have expectations of going anywhere or is returning from a walk and has used up a lot of energy playing and running.
Before you attempt to teach your puppy to walk without pulling on the lead, take a look at the amount of opportunity he has to exercise and play. Is it the right amount for his age and breed? If your puppy is boisterous and lively when at home, the answer is probably no, and you will need to address this before you can expect him to walk with you at a slower pace than he would want.
Teach your puppy to play with toys (go to ‘How To Teach Your Puppy To Play With Toys’) and use them at home to tire him a little before going out for a walk. Teach your puppy a recall (go to ‘Instant Recall’) so that he can get off lead in safe open areas to use up his physical energy with free running.
All in the technique
There are various ways to teach a puppy to not pull on the lead and all of them require you to learn physical skills and good timing so your puppy can learn effectively. Although some of the techniques are described below, it is much better if you can find a competent instructor to show you what to do and then coach you into doing it correctly.
For this reason, it is recommended that you find a puppy training class or an instructor who can come to your house to help you learn. Try the Puppy School. Also, it is important to find a trainer who uses positive, kind methods so find out about your chosen trainer before booking and try to get personal recommendations from other puppies owners in your area. Go to ‘Choosing A Good Puppy Training Class’.
Walking at your pace
There are many different ways to teach a puppy not to pull on the lead. Two are outlined here:
Stop and wait for a loose lead
Hold the handle of your lead and make sure it is long enough for your puppy to be able to move about two body lengths away. Hold the handle into the centre of your body and start walking. AS SOON as the lead goes tight (watch it carefully and begin to stop as it is tightening), stop immediately and stand still. This will bring your puppy to a complete stand still. Once he has stopped, call him back to your side and reward him with a treat. Continue until he is beginning to anticipate stopping and is returning to your side each time for the treat. Then continue as before but use praise instead of a treat (this stops him learning to yo-yo backwards and forwards to get the treat). With enough repetitions, he should learn to step back a pace once the lead goes tight so he can move forward, and, eventually, he will learn to try to keep the lead loose so that he doesn’t have to stop.
Be prepared to use this method for at least two weeks consistently, never walking a step unless the lead is loose. It helps if you walk fairly fast once you’ve started so that the lead stays loose for a good period of time before you need to stop. If you are consistent and your technique is good, your puppy will soon be walking nicely on a loose lead.
Hold the handle of the lead into the centre of your body as above. As soon as the lead goes tight, stop and turn around, walking a few paces in the other direction and encouraging your puppy to join you. When he has caught up and is walking nicely beside you, ask him to turn with you and turn again so you are facing in the original direction. Continue until the lead begins to go tight, then repeat the above. Continue until your puppy is walking well without pulling on the lead.
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