How to stop your puppy from pulling on the lead

Cocker Spaniel Puppy pulling on the lead
Oh dear (Picture: Getty Images)

Walking a puppy, excitable as they are, can quickly become very chaotic.

Many people say that pulling on a lead is one of their biggest struggles and more than a quarter said they’d consider giving up their dog for ‘problematic’ behaviour.

Lorna Winter, director of the UK Dog Behaviour and Training charter, has some top tips to get your dog stop pulling its lead.

Practise in the garden and house

Lorna describes this as an ‘absolute must’.

She tells us: ‘Don’t leave it until they are allowed out on walks, as this is already too late.’

Create a Barrier to Keep Your Dog Out of the Litterbox. Does your dog go straight for the littler box? He’s not alone, lots of dogs are attracted to kitty litter. Keep your dog from getting into the litter by elevating the box or creating a simple barrier so they can’t get in.

First, she says you should start inside.

‘Practise in the house,’ she explains, ‘walking up and down without even using the lead.’

Child walking a puppy dog
You’ll be walking with ease in no time (Picture: Getty Images)

Utilise treats

We’re all about positive reinforcement, and treats are a great way to keep your pup’s attention.

‘Have some treats ready in your hand,’ says Lorna. ‘Hold them down at thigh level, and walk at your pup’s pace. Once mastered, take it into the garden.

‘Increase the steps in between treats. If your dog moves ahead, stop, reposition, and start again.

Use a Food Dispensing Toy for Fast Eaters. If your dog eats too fast use a food dispensing toy (we love the Kong Wobbler & Bob a Lot), or place a few tennis balls in their bowl to slow their eating. Not only does this keep them from eating too quick, it gives them a nice mental workout.

‘Once your dog consistently walks nicely alongside, you, then you can start to introduce the lead.

‘By the time your pup has had their second injection they should already be walking nicely alongside you like a pro.’

Never yank the lead

This should hopefully go without saying, but do not jerk the lead. You wouldn’t like it, so why would you subject your baby best bud to that sort of thing?

‘Never jerk or yank on the lead,’ says Lorna.

‘Just stop, drop some treats behind your heel until your puppy is back where you want them, and then start moving again.

Focus on the Human-Animal Bond. “Dogs and cats have broken down the walls of our hearts. There haven’t been comparable domesticated species in 5,000 years.” For Dr. Becker, it’s clear that pets and people have evolved to benefit each other. He explains, “When you’re petting them, you both get this massive release of oxytocin, prolactin, dopamine, and a decrease in cortisol. It’s a reciprocal biochemical spa treatment.” As they age, it can be easy to take pets for granted. Make time for a little human-animal bonding every day.

Laura is co-founder and head of training for coaching app Zigzag

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