Tucker pulls and pulls the lead when he is on one. I had heard that his owner had been having trouble walking him on a lead, but I didn’t realise how bad his pulling was until I tried walking him on a lead in their front yard after a trick training session in their home. At that time he got extremely excited, as soon as he saw his lead, and dashed toward the front door. He couldn’t even step away from the door.

We had our first loose leash walking session in a park, because the footpaths along the street would have been too narrow to do things that I wanted to do. To start with, I wanted to burn his extra energy before actually practising loose leash walking. In order to do that, I let him run in circles around me on a lead so that he would pull the lead sideways, not in the direction away from me.

If you try to pull back in the opposite direction when your dog pulls, it will only encourage him to pull even stronger. But, if you gently pull sideways as you move to the side of your dog, he is likely to move sideways. Once he has started moving sideways, you can use the momentum to let him run in circles around you at the end of the lead.

Running in circles

While we were doing that, Tucker sometimes passed near me, so I took the opportunity and threw a piece of food in the direction he was heading, saying “Get it”. And, if he looked in my direction after eating the food, I called him and turn so that he would come from behind me. Then, I again threw food in the direction he was heading just when he was passing me. When he didn’t look at me after eating the food, I waited until he disengaged from the thing he was looking at, and invited him toward me as I praised him.

Most dogs enjoy this exercise as a game that helps them to stay focused on you.

Food circuit

For the warmup exercises explained above, I used a 180 cm lead. But, if you use a long line, you could stay in the centre of his running circle without moving much. Also, for these exercises, I put the lead on the back hook although Tucker was wearing a harness with a front hook.

When he had settled enough, I moved the lead from the back hook to the front hook and started practising loose leash walking. I kept talking to him to stay connected with him. I changed directions frequently to maintain his attention on me. I asked him to sit sometimes too, which he responded to very well.

The start of walking on a loose leash

Because Tucker is short, the lead can get under his body easily when the lead is on the front hook. So, I made sure that the lead was kept off the ground.

If you have a dog who keeps pulling the lead, please practise above exercises. If your dog pulls but is calmer, you may skip one or both of the warmup exercises. Hope it helps!!