Your News: Taking the lead needs to be kind - not harsh

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It makes me cringe when I see an owner yank their dog on the lead. It used to be taught as the only way to help your dog to learn not to pull. Each time they reached the end of the lead, they were given a ‘correction’.

In truth, this method relies on causing the dog a sharp pain which will supposedly teach that pulling is ‘wrong’. However, it is barely effective, causes injury to spine, hips and the dog’s eyes as they are yanked. It also affects the person holding the lead, with jarring movements. If this method worked, one such ‘correction’ would be enough. I don’t think I have ever seen this work properly or for long. Why cause pain?

Instead of becoming frustrated, it is really easy to purchase a non-pull device. A range of special harnesses where the lead attaches to the front, are ideal. They cause the dog to turn slightly to one side and make pulling a redundant action. Or, purchase a head collar which fits rather like that on a horse, although some dogs find these difficult to wear without careful introduction. With very large dogs, both devices work superbly using two leads or a double-ended lead.

Finally, remember that you are the person handling the dog and are therefore 50 per cent of the problem. As soon as you allow the lead to go tight, any dog will naturally lean into the restraint. This is a normal reaction. If you are pulling, your dog cannot stop themselves pulling in the opposite direction.

Teach yourself to only move forward when you are ready. Keep the lead loose and don’t pull it tight yourself. Although loose lead walking really needs proper tuition, the first steps are crucial. It is within your power, but please don’t use force.

Put your best feet and paws forward from now on!