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Loose Lead Walking

No one likes being pulled on walks by their dogs. This problem is at best irritating, but at its worst can cause serious injuries to the handler and also hurt your dog.

There are different methods to help prevent the ultimate goal of not pulling. The methods mostly differ by their priorities. For some, it's having quick results of a dog not pulling. For others, the focus is on having the dog walk on a loose lead. Both methods have the same ultimate result of having no lead tension.

Loose lead walking means that your dog doesn't necessarily walk right at heel. He or she can sniff about and take in their surroundings but the lead should be slack. Non-reward based methods generally means that your dog must walk close to your side and not interact with their environment.

What are the tools usually used for loose lead walking? Tools for loose lead walking are usually a comfortable harness and whatever your dog is motivated by - for some this is food, for others attention or toys. The aim is to reward your dog for walking close to you, and ideally for "checking in" with you regularly. What about non-reward based methods? In general, the non-reward based methods use choke chains, slip leads, prong collars or any form of E-collar. The aim is to tell the dog that they are doing the wrong behaviour by giving a lead correction.

There are more welfare friendly and effective methods that have been proven by scientific literature to teach your dog what we want them to do.

What are the benefits of using reward-based training for lead walking? Using reward-based training, we are able to maintain and improve the human-animal bond, we don't risk hurting your dog's neck and we will be looking at the underlying reason for the pulling.

We look at why your dog is pulling on the lead. Some dogs may have been rewarded for pulling or just never taught to walk on a loose lead. Some dogs may pull on lead when they see another dog because they are nervous and want to get away - in these situations using lead corrections will probably stop the pulling, but mean that your dog could become more fearful of other dogs and lead to other behaviour problems. We would be looking to address any underlying behaviour problem first to help your dog learn that some things don't need to be scary. Walks should be enriching and fun for you and your dogs and not solely for exercise. Being able to sniff and explore their surroundings is hugely beneficial for your dog's health and mental state. A slower paced walk with lots of sniffing is far better for your dog's mental state than marching down along without interacting with the environment.

Always check with any trainer what methods they use before you see them and always stand up for your dog if you get advised by any professional to use outdated methods or anything that makes you uncomfortable.

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