How to stop a dog from pulling on the leash and start walking to heel

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Teaching your dog to stop pulling on the leash takes work, but it’s an important training step that will turn everyday walks from arduous battles of will into enjoyable ones – and your shoulder will thank you for it. Expert dog trainer Ben Randall explains how to teach your dog to heel.

Getting out of the house every day to walk your dog should be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone involved, but if your dog constantly pulls on the leash, rushes and drags you in all directions, it can feel more like a struggle. you are reluctant to tackle — a problem faced by WK from Devon.

“Every time I walk my Labrador my arm is almost out of the socket,” written W.K.. “I love that he’s excited to be out, but it’s exhausting and stressful constantly struggling to pull him back – not to mention I don’t want him hurting himself, while he’s shooting. against the leash How do I get him to stop pulling and walk on his heels?

So far in these dog training articles I have looked to encourage positive behavior by setting a better recall, training a puppy in a crate, introducing the leash, stopping your dog from barking at the door, teaching him to sit properly, and preventing dogs from stealing food (or whatever he craves) – as with those, making leash training a positive experience is key to learning your dog to stop pulling on the leash.

I’ve been perfecting my BG (Beggarbush) foundation methods for almost 20 years – you can learn more via @beggarbush on Instagram and my dog ​​training app (this link will get you a free trial) or ask me your own question by emailing pattes-pour-pensé[email protected] – and know how important heel work is.

Once you are done introducing your dog to the leash, encouraging him to understand that the leash is something positive and rewarding, your dog will know that every time the leash is put on, a good experience will follow. , such as food, a praise reward, or a walk.

A word of warning before you begin: it’s important not to put your dog on a leash when he’s misbehaving. A common mistake is for an owner to yell and howl at a dog, growling harshly before leashing it – if you do this, your dog will associate your annoyance or annoyance with being on a leash. We want your dog to always view the leash as a positive experience.

“So…remind me again, who’s taking who for a walk?” »

Six steps to stop your dog from pulling on the leash

  1. Establish positive associations with the lead

Above all else, it’s important to help your dog understand that a leash is a positive thing to have around their neck, something they associate with a good and happy experience – once this has been firmly established, move on. to the next step.

  1. Home is where the heart is

If your dog withdraws during a walk, resume walking the dog in a more confined and less distracting environment, such as the house or garden. And make sure the dog is on your left, walking against a fence or wall.

  1. Motivate them with a treat or toy

When your dog walks on your left side, hold a piece of kibble in your right hand, making sure your dog can see it, so that he is engaged and watching you while learning the “foot” command. If your dog isn’t food-motivated, carrying a ball or toy he likes is another great way to encourage eye contact and that all-important connection with your dog.

  1. How to prevent the dog from constantly pulling on the leash when you are out for a walk?

If you’re on a walk and your dog pulls himself and half chokes, try a turning method: with the leash in my left hand, as soon as I feel tension, I turn sharply left towards the dog, walking him in the opposite direction and as I do so, I firmly pronounce the word “heel”. Then I turn around and head back in the opposite direction. If the dog pulls again, I repeat the process and reward the dog with praise, kibble, or a toy every time he stays close and engaged with me.

  1. Encourage your dog to interact with you as you walk

Another useful exercise is to loosen your grip on the leash, allowing the dog to walk its full length, then, without pulling or snapping on the leash, say “heel” and quickly turn and walk the opposite direction. By doing this in an area with minimal distractions, your dog will want to keep watching out of the corner of his right eye, engaging with you and the direction you are walking. Your dog will be more engaged and focused on watching and following you – and his reward will come.

  1. Use the “exit” command

Be sure to use this if your dog starts pulling when he sees another dog – as soon as your dog spots them, give the command “leave”, then engage your dog with a reward in your right hand, like a piece of croquettes or simply some praise. We want to craft the ideal scenario where if your dog sees another dog in the park, he will recognize it, but will turn to you immediately afterwards for praise or a food reward. Personally I like to walk past the dog as a distraction and once we are 10-20 yards away I lean down and give the reward to my dog ​​- this helps build trust between you and your dog.

For a seven-day free trial of Ben’s dog training app – which normally costs £24.99 a month or £249.99 a year – visit www.gundog.app/trial. You can also get more detailed advice on Ben Randall’s proven, award-based and positive BG training methods, individual training sessions, residential training or five-star canine boarding at his BGHQ in Herefordshire, phone 01531 670960 or visit www.ledburylodgekennels.co.uk.


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