Walking to Heel on the Lead

Training your puppy to walk in a relaxed and well-mannered way whilst on the lead should be started as early as possible, like children, learning a good pattern of behaviour in early life makes the process so much easier than having to re-train later on.

As soon as the puppy is used to having his/her collar and lead on indoors pick up the lead and gently encourage them to you, decide which side (usually the left) of you they should be on and stick to it, and using your voice and general body language guide the puppy into following you. Once this is going well graduate on to the garden and /or out into the street, encouraging and praising as necessary. A few treats here and there never go amiss but not always a good idea to rely on them.

Training sessions of any kind should only ever be for short bursts particularly if with a very young dog - a 5 or 6 month puppy can cope with a little longer but 10-15 minutes in any one go is ample.

Start Somewhere Quiet

A dog has to learn to pay attention to his handler so start somewhere quiet and gradually introduce more distractions and be dynamic yourself and interact with your puppy. Make sure you walk at a fairly brisk pace especially with a bigger breed or one that's very excitable, many dogs pull on the lead because they are bored with wandering along too slowly!

The connection you establish with your puppy through the lead is incredibly important, after all if he won't pay attention to you when you are 'attached' it doesn't bode well for when you're not. Talk to him and encourage contact, discourage sniffing and so on and this will help to build up concentration. Be positive and assertive when you initially move off rather than waiting for the dog and always walk where you want to go, not where the dog decides - sounds obvious I know but I see lots of dogs that get their owners trained to follow them very proficiently!

A Change of Direction

If your puppy is hell-bent on a tug of war do NOT enter into that game, you're on a loser to nothing and he'll probably keep at it for a lot longer than you can. Rather than gather momentum by keeping in a straight line incorporate into your practise sessions lots of changes of direction, every time she lurches forward go another way or turn left or right, this will help manoeuvrability overall.

Above all remember that this process will almost certainly take time to establish and you and your puppy will have good days and not so good days - remain calm, positive and consistent (consistency is crucial) and eventually your efforts and practise will pay off.

Make it fun and rewarding and you'll both be getting what you want when you pick up the lead!

Julie Burke
Tel: 07787 558970; Email: jb@norbur-kennels.co.uk

┬ęCopyright 2009 Julie Burke

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