When we first started taking Lola out for walks, we realised just what an inquisitive nature she has. There’s always something to sniff at or look at, which is all completely normal and healthy, but attempting to train walking to heel whilst on the lead is no mean feat with an excitable dog.
We have tried a variety of leads through the last nine months until we have finally gotten to a place where we are happy with how Lola walks on a lead. Every dog is different, but I hope that if you’re here because you’re struggling then I can help you in a small way to enjoy your dog walks.
I went through a few weeks at the end of last year when it wasn’t the cold weather or the rain making me dread the thought of taking Lola for a walk, but more for the fact that I knew I would be bad tempered by the time we both got back in, and I would be feeling annoyed that I was cross with her for pulling on the lead. All she wants to do is explore and get her exercise.
Lola started her outdoor adventures on a standard collar and lead, but we soon realised this was making her cough as the collar was constricting her as we walked, so we moved onto a harness. This was great for a little while until she realised she could power through with her shoulders and drag me along behind her. I still cringe when I see one particular postman walking down the road towards me as it brings back memories of one particular day when Lola was taking me for a walk rather than the other way around. The postman got a good giggle out of seeing me being pulled down the road, I’m not sure I appreciated it quite as much.
Almost every dog owner we spoke to had an idea that they had tried and that had worked for the, ranging from choke leads to extendable leads to using treats when out and about.
We were willing to give almost anything a go to make the experience more enjoyable for both us and Lola, and tried almost all the advice apart from a choke lead which I really wasn’t keen on.
Using treats worked for a little while, but we were having to make her meal portions smaller to compensate for all the treats she was getting out on her walks. Dogs are clever creatures and they know when they aren’t going to get a treat so their behaviour will change accordingly.
I wasn’t comfortable with giving treats ALL the time on walks, as I wondered how we would ever be able to get out of the habit. I was almost at the point of despair when we took Lola to the vet for a check up and the vet commented on the harness and suggested trying a Gentle Leader. Designed to encourage dogs not to pull on the lead as it fits over the nose and mouth area meaning they have no power to pull from.
We went home and researched the gentle leader, and decided that as they were a reasonable cost we would try one to see how we got on with it.
The first time we introduced Lola to the Gentle Leader, she wasn’t sure about it, but now it goes on without any fuss. The lead sits over the nose and mouth area, and the secures behind the ears. There is a small part that attaches to the main lead which hands below the chin area.
The gentle leader doesn’t stop Lola from opening her mouth, drinking whilst wearing it or restrict her in any way, but what it does stop her from doing is pulling!
As the main lead is attached under her chin, if we give a gentle tug on the lead her face turns which makes her look as us. This then gains the eye contact to be able to give a command or a treat etc to encourage the walking to heel.
When I first started using the Gentle Leader, I can honestly say my walking experiences were improved a great deal. It took a few weeks to get her walking to heel, and she still has her moments of pulling, but it’s easier for me to control these moments as I am in charge on our walks now and not Lola.
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How to stop your dog pulling on the lead