Do you need to teach your dog to walk nicely on their lead? Ae you sick of being pulled over? Do your muscles constantly ache? Is your dog choking themselves? It can’t be pleasant for them can it?
There is nothing more annoying than being pulled about by your dog on their lead. It is dangerous and we all risk injury – us and our dogs. So why do they do it?
It isn’t comfortable for our dogs. It can lead to health problems later down the line. Jerking and pulling our dogs about can cause injuries to their thyroid glands and their back and neck. It can also affect our dog’s mental well-being. If you have ever been pushed around by someone else or had your way blocked by another person, you will know how it feels to have your movement controlled. This can cause our dog to have low energy and in turn poor health.
We need encourage our dogs not to pull us about. We can do this by not letting them practice this behaviour and helping them choose to walk nicely. We reward them for doing the right behaviour. When we reward a behaviour we make it more likely to occur next time.
When we allow our dog to pull us about it can cause us to become frustrated, this changes our body language. Our dogs can see us as unpredictable and this in turn can undermine our bond with them. When we invest time and effort into building a bond with our dogs we run into less problems. Tension can develop between us if we don’t make this investment. Tension in our bodies can develop in a physical tightness and this can be recognised by our brains as a lack of relaxation. When our dogs feel like this we often see them become reactive, hypervigilant or frustrated by being on their lead. It can also lead to sadness and a sense of helplessness.
Sometimes it is not safe to have our dogs off their lead. In these circumstances it is often better to simply remove our dogs from this environment. Or in truth not take them there in the first place. It is better to set our dog up to succeed rather than to let them fail. Prepare and plan your outings with your dog prior to the event.
Our dogs are emotional beings and when they are deprived of choices about their movement their mind, body and spirit will stagnate. Like us, our dogs need to feel happy and free. We therefore need to treat decisions about their movement with respect and recognition that we are influencing another individual’s freedom. Whenever possible allow your dog to choose the direction that they move. When we do this we help them feel more in balance and their energy flows more freely in their bodies.
There are many methods we can use to train a dog to walk loose lead. Choose one that is kind and doesn’t frighten or cause your dog to get stressed. There are plenty of tools on the market that stop our dog pulling – choke collars, prong collars, electronic collars, anti-pull harnesses. Unfortunately these work and the pulling may stop but at what cost? When you use one of these devices you are hurting your dog. Fortunately using positive reinforcement methods work too. Make a kind decision and use a harness or soft, flat collar, a lead approximately 1 ½ metres long and carry treats with you, so you can reward good behaviour
Here is a quick exercise you may wish to try:
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