My Puppy Is Pulling On Her Lead
Cocker Spaniel Exploring - It's What They Do Best!
I have a 13 week old working cocker spaniel puppy - she's doing really well and I've been practising your basic obedience commands.
The problem I have with her is that she's pulling on the lead when I take her for walks.
It's not too bad just now but it could be a real problem when she's older and a lot bigger!
Do you have any advice that would help please?
Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)
There are a couple of methods you might like to try.
Off Lead – The ‘Heel’ Command
First, you could try this in the house. If you have a long room or corridor, that's even better. Hold a treat in your fingers and drop your hand by your side. Let your puppy see and smell the treat but don't give it to her.
Start walking - your puppy will begin to follow you. As she does so, she will most likely stay close to the treat - ie close to your side.
Let her follow you for a few steps and then let her have the treat - don't stop moving though - keep walking while your feed it to her. As you do so, say 'heel, good heel'. She will soon begin to associate walking by your side with the command word 'Heel'.
Practice this a few times each day until your puppy has mastered this. You can begin to remove the use of treats at this stage.
When your puppy is pulling on the lead, she's not paying attention to you - all she wants to do is move ahead - in this state, she's not a calm puppy. We need to calm her down and show her who's the pack leader.
Don't get stressed or frustrated (I know, it’s easier said than done!) but you will only transfer your agitated state to your puppy.
When you take her for a walk, keep the lead short(ish) - don't allow her to sniff the ground. She needs to remain focussed on you and her walk. Keep your head up and look straight ahead. Don't call your puppy to follow you - just set off.
Make a loop in the lead - don't knot it, just hold it. As soon as she begins to pull ahead of you, call her name, let go of the loop and then turn and begin to walk in the opposite (or another) direction. This must be done immediately she pulls. If you pull a puppy on a lead, it will instinctively pull back. The point of the loop is that when you let go of it, your puppy has nothing to pull against as the lead is now slack.
When she catches up, she'll probably move ahead of you again so you'll need to repeat the process. Don't allow her to predict which direction you're going to take. Mix it up a little.
You will find that your puppy begins to settle down and pay attention to you – she will be watching you to see which direction you are going to take.
If she walks by your side, without pulling, for 5 or 6 steps, stop and praise her. Extend her walking by a few steps each time before you stop and praise her - she'll soon learn what you want her to do.
Don't give up - don't get frustrated or angry - just keep making those quick turns each time she pulls.
An alternative to the above is to stop walking as soon as your puppy pulls on the lead. Bring her back to your side and ask her to sit. When she sits, move off again - don't call her - just walk on. Repeat this each time your puppy pulls.
You may need lots of patience and practice, but you will get there in the end.