Dogs pulling on the lead and my reflections on how to change this experience.

I often receive compliments on how well my dog Luna walks on her lead which I’m very grateful for. Luna was not always well behaved when on walks, she would pull to the side to sniff and explore things that took her attention, as well as straining to go ahead when we moved towards open space where she’d go off lead.

This was when Luna was a puppy and I homed her at three and a half months of age, so her ventures outdoors were of course very minimal. My first point of reference was to work on creating a calmer experience with Luna before we leave the home, to take things slowly with patience and not rush the process. This would then make for a calmer beginning to the walk, and start as I meant to go on.

Here is where the first stage begins, to take into account how our dog is behaving during the preparation stage for going out, if the dog is excited then we need to lower the excitement levels. This means considering how we are in that moment, are we excited, nervous, anxious or maybe all of those feelings.

Be mindful not to judge yourself and allow awareness of what you are experiencing, be present and slow it all down to allow for calmness to arise. I assure you that both you and your dogs will connect with the change in approach, and feel more in control of your emotional response than how you previously went out on walks together.

Whatever your routine entails, take your time and see how your dog responds to your quietness of mind and energy. This will help you to begin the placing of lead & collar on your dog with the dog feeling that you are in control of your energy, and not joining in any over zealous behaviour.

If you need to at any point, stop and take a slow deep breath, pause the whole process and start again when you and your dog are ready. It helps to put time aside to practice, as when people are rushing to take the dog out, this also encourages the dog to rush and you’ll both be sharing the same experience of over excitement.

When I guide my clients through this there is no golden rule on how to do things, I work very instinctually as each dog & their owners are different, therefore I help them with their strengths and turn the points they need to improve into positives. You will also likely find that other people you see & meet when on walks with your dog will appreciate how in control you are, the energy you share and project will be infectious to others and you might receive compliments saying how well you’re doing. Especially if the same people have seen your dog straining at the leash before you made changes to create positive and more relaxed times outside the home together.

When a dog pulls on their lead it can easily cause injuries to themselves as well as their handlers, over time you might have shoulder, shoulder blade or even hip injuries through constant physical bracing and shocking movements through your body. I have heard too many stories of people requiring medical treatment as their dogs do not know how to walk without dragging them as hard as possible, people landing on their face as well as a broken ankle are two of the most extreme instances.

Enjoy the learning and you will be on your way to a greater experience of walking your dog, remember to practice diligently and with a positive mind so your dog feels safe and secure under your leadership.