Having a pooch that pulls or strains on the lead can be a frustrating experience for both dog and owner. Not only does it make an owner feel that they're out of control but it can also damage your pet's neck and throat.
What's more, as your dog gets older, bigger and stronger, the physical effort of holding onto the lead can become overwhelming for an owner, particularly if they own a large breed dog.
Therefore, it is important that all owners make the effort to teach their canine companions the simple skill on walking calmly on the lead, and it will make walks a more pleasurable experience for both parties.
Training your pooch to walk on the lead should begin as early as possible, ideally when they are a puppy, since your dog will be smaller, less strong and easier to control.
Start by getting your puppy used to wearing a collar putting it on them around the house for a short period at first and then extending the time until your dog no longer realises they are wearing it.
Opt for a lightweight, nylon-webbing collar that will not feel too heavy or comfortable. It is important to make sure the collar fits correctly - with just enough room for you to get two fingers underneath it - and that you adjust it as your pup gets bigger.
Then help your pooch get used to the sensation of being on the lead by attaching it and having a little walk round the garden making sure there is plenty of slack and you're not pulling your puppy around too much.
When your puppy seems comfortable with the lead, you're going to need to teach them to walk along nicely without pulling or lagging behind.
Start by getting your pup's attention with a dry dog food treat and saying their name, while taking a few steps forward. When your puppy follows, reward them with the treat and plenty of fuss.
This process should be repeated in many short on-lead training sessions and when your dog walks alongside you, without putting any pressure on the lead by pulling ahead or dragging behind they should be rewarded.
If, however, your puppy pulls ahead you should stand still (or even start walking backwards), and call your dog back to your side. If you are firm and consistent your puppy will soon understand that straining on the lead won't help them get to where they want to go any quicker and walking next to you reaps more rewards.
If your puppy lags behind, you'll need to encourage them to keep up with premium dog food treats and by being more animated in your actions and tone of voice so that they focus on you and want to keep up with you.
Problems can occur when there are distractions such as other people or dogs nearby, as your puppy may want to rush over to them and lose their focus. In this case, try to pre-empt this reaction and say your puppy's name to get their attention while showing him the treat. Then if they walk calmly past the distraction, reward your pooch with plenty of praise and a couple of treats.
Written by: Hannah Dyball