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Your dog may need practice on the lead again

By Alison Cameron

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Anna Patfield
Anna Patfield

Is your dog pulling now when they weren’t before Covid? You’re not alone.

Why are they pulling more now? Well, there are a couple of potential reasons. First, that they just haven’t had much practice on lead for a while, perhaps they’ve been off lead in more in quieter areas.

And secondly, because they are so excited to see people and dogs out and about that they want to run up to them to play. Of course, we can’t ignore that they may also be fearful. They haven’t seen people and dogs for ages; they may be just as worried as us about re-connecting.

The best solution really depends on your dog and circumstances, of course, but here are some hints and tips to help you get back to nice calm walks.

Exposure – if your dog or puppy just seems overwhelmed by everything, then take them somewhere where you can sit quietly with them at a good distance from people and dogs. Either simply sit and let them watch the world go by or try doing a little training just where you are.

Excitement – training helps to reduce excitement and you can really improve heel training by lots of practice within your family. I’m not talking about the jerk-heel training here. Simply pop a wee treat in your hand and encourage your dog or puppy to walk a few steps beside you before giving the treat. Repeat that a few times in a short training session and repeat it a few times a day.

Start off in the house with no lead on, then practise in the garden with no lead, then in the house with their lead on then the garden. Next have a friend or family member do something a little exciting that could encourage your dog to pull towards them. But you continue helping them to learn that the best way to get there is to stay beside you. Gradually you get a little closer. Interspersing ‘heel’ with ‘sit or down’ can help too. There’s a great training trick called Magic Hand Training – have a google.

Equipment – don’t be thinking you’re giving up by buying a training aid. Harnesses such as the Perfect Fit Harness or head collars like the Gentle Leader can really take help you to leap forward with training. Gently introduced, these can help you to prevent pulling whilst you working on training.

It really helps to understand the root cause of any training problem. Is it lack of practice, boredom, fear, overly excited?

If you’re having difficulty, please do get in touch for help at www.PawsAbility.co.uk or email anna@pawsability.co.uk

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