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1/12/13

have dog on a leash?

Question I take my dog for off-leash walks and she does great. She was trained to heel on a lead and did really well in classes but since we only do off-lead walks she pulls like crazy at first when I do have to leash her up. Are our "free" walks doing harm; should I have her on a leash?

Answer:

It's good to allow a dog to run free. However if that is all you do then the dog is not learning or practicing patience on a lead. I would not stop the free-roam walks, they are great, but for those times when you do need to leash your dog it is important that you teach good manners. I would start leashing the dog up at least a few times a week to practice lead walking, or even put the dog on a lead for only part of your walk in the woods just for practice. The dog needs to be trained that when you are free, you are free, but as soon as that lead snaps on you are to follow me heeling and not pull. I take my Bruno out to the woods and he runs and chases rabbits, etc...but as soon as I snap on the lead his entire demeanor changes and he knows it's time to follow.


You may want to bring the lead with you on your free walks. Put the lead on for a short time in the beginning and when the dog heels nicely for a bit make her sit and be calm, then take it off and allow her to go. Maybe even a few times until she gets the idea. I use my foot to backwards side-boot my dog in the butt below the tail if he starts to pull, but different things work for different dogs and owners.

Inside the house, practice making the dog sit calmly while you snap on the lead. At the gateway to the door practice going out the doorway first with the dog following. If you are on your way to an area where you can do a free-roam walk do not unsnap the dog's lead until she is heeling and walking nicely. Never unsnap her while she is pulling. You may have to take her out for some town walking for the socialization just so during those times she must be on a lead the dog is used to that type of environment. You need to convince her and condition her that when the lead is snapped on it means it's time to heel. It's going to take some time and a lot of work. But you can't give up or give in or the dog will learn to just keep pressing you in order to get her way.
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