It’s worth saying up front that there’s a right and a wrong approach to using a lead. If you try to use the lead solely to hold your dog in check, or hold them back, then you’re not really going to enjoy a walk together.
The main purpose of the lead is to link the dog to the owner, to aid communication, as well as to help to keep the animal safe in dangerous situations, such as coming up to busy roads.
Don’t be pulled along
The lead is not designed for the dog to pull the owner along behind them, as you often see in cartoons. If you allow your dog to pull you around, you are signalling that you accept this behaviour. But by the same token, the lead doesn’t exist for the owner to drag their dog along either.
Instead, the lead is a means to have a constant influence over your dog, to communicate when to walk alongside you, when to hold back, and when to run ahead. A long enough lead still allows the dog to explore a lane, stop and have a sniff, or wander off course and have adventures.
Going for a walk with your dog should be a pleasant and fun experience. But the dog must understand that you are in charge of the situation, not them, and this is the basis of it being pleasant for you both!
As the owner, you need to communicate that walking with you should be a privilege, but that acting out of control is unacceptable. Remember to praise your dog when they respond correctly to your leading, so that they will learn more quickly.
- Slack lead
- Firstly, by maintaining a slack lead while you are out walking, you are providing a degree of freedom whilst giving yourself an extra foot, or so, of lead, and an extra second to react to your dog’s forward lunges. As a result, when your dog lunges forward, he or she will go from having a comfortable loose lead, to a tight one, which will give them some discomfort. This in itself might be enough to discourage the behaviour.
- Bent arm
- Make sure your lead arm is bent, rather than straight, because this will reduce the stress on your arm and give yourself an arm length of lead to use when reacting to unwanted actions from your dog. If the loose lead/tight lead doesn’t work, and your dog continues to pull you, by using the advantage of your bent arm, and straightening and backing up, you can go from having a loose lead, to a taught corrective answer to your dog’s forward lunging. The result is that the dog is arrested abruptly and prevented from behaving badly.
- Turn around
The third option is to straighten your arm while you are turning and walking in the opposite direction. This will have the affect of going from a loose lead, to a hard correction, that is continual and only stops when your dog complies with you and walks with you again.
What you are saying to your dog here is that you do not think their behaviour is acceptable, and you will not tolerate it.
Once again, you should always make a point to praise and reward your dog upon behaving well, because it will strengthen their understanding that good behaviour leads to good results, and strengthen your relationship with them.