Who’s Walk Is It Anyway?
Here’s a question - Do you walk your dog, or, does your dog walk you?
Let’s get real for a second, we were all sold the same dream of perfectly pleasant countryside walks with our loyal and immaculately behaved four pawed friends glued to our side – right?!
Then reality hit us!!! In real life we grapple with the idea of even ‘taking the dog’, our arms feel like they’re about to drop off and we can’t even say the ‘w’ word for fear of an explosion of fur around the living room.
And we’re not alone. The UK’s no. 1 pet behavioural complaint is dogs pulling on the lead.
It’s just not fair, why shouldn’t the dog join in on family days out. After all, they are the glue *ahem*, slobber that holds us together.
We see it every day. Excitable dogs and their frustrated humans come to our shop looking for a quick solution to that age-old problem of pulling.
Thankfully the very clever people over at Doggy HQ have been busy inventing some pretty pawsome products to make life much more of a walk in the park, and less of a championship wrestle.
So, it’s time to take the lead and walk this way, because we’ve got them all available in store and online for you to stop your dog pulling.
Attitude is key
Just like you won’t get that six-pack by watching the exercise dvd, you won’t get a perfectly behaved pooch just by reading this blog.
First, you need the right attitude and a ton of commitment! Commitment to your dog’s happiness, but most importantly, commitment to your own.
But let’s get one thing straight. Training shouldn’t be about them obeying your every command, instead, think of it as an exercise in establishing mutual respect. Your dog can have all the freedom they want, as long as they respect that what you say, goes!
It’s about implementing structure and boundaries. Communicating the rules and making your expectations of them clear, just like you would with a child.
But you need to play fair, if they haven’t been shown what you want, how can you expect them to know?
Your most valuable tool here is ‘routine’. Repeating the same action or command at certain times of the day, EVERY day without fail.
For example, create a rule that your dog must ‘sit’ and ‘wait’ for 5 seconds before meal times or leaving the house for walkies. They can have their treat, however you expect them to be calm and well behaved first. You’re inviting them to participate in YOUR activities not the other way around.
Dogs don’t speak our language, they learn through repetitiveness and association, so stand your ground! Just like children, they will want to explore their boundaries, and they WILL call your bluff.
But this is not a time to get frustrated, lose your temper or even worse, give in. Dogs look for leadership and leaders are calm, strong and focused.
Remember, if the dog thinks you don’t follow through every time then neither will they, so stick with it!
Before we can walk the talk though, let’s talk the good stuff... Treats
Rewarding positive dog behaviour with something fun or tasty is by far the most effective and humane way of handling your dog, but they MUST work for it. Don’t just hand treats out like grandma’s candy.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which method you choose, positive reinforcement is the way to your dogs’ heart, or in this case, feet.
Harringtons Training Treats are grain free, perfectly sized for dog training, contain natural antioxidants and are rich in liver, a great source of vitamins and minerals.
Now there’s treats, and then there’s treats!
If you really really want your dog to behave a certain way, then you need to give them what they really really want too. High value treats. Like the kind that only come out on special occasions.
It takes a bit of experimenting, but you’ll get the most out of your training sessions if you take the time learn what makes your dog tick. Does your pup go wild for Salmon? Veracious for Venison or dippy for Duck?
When shopping for treats look for small bite-sized portions which are low fat, high protein, easily digestible and quick to eat to help maintain their focus. Crunchy treats will just become a distraction.
Lily’s Kitchen Chicken and White Fish Puppy Rewards are especially designed with little mouths and tummies in mind. They’re super tasty, contain ethically sourced ingredients and even come in a resealable pouch. Perfect to keep little noses out.
Not a foodie or don’t want to use treats as a reward?
Then our Beco Rope Toys are perfect for exciting games of tuggy, which can also be used as a reward for great behaviour and something you’ll see police dog handlers use frequently instead of treats.
Ethically made from natural hemp, the Beco Triple Knot Rope is mega tough thanks to its twisted design. It also has anti-bacterial properties to help keep teeth strong and clean and short fibres for easy digestion.
Or, how about the Beco Ball on a Rope. The world’s first natural rice husk rubber and cotton dog toy. It’s non-toxic, eco-friendly and completely safe for even the most enthusiastic dogs.
But HOW, I hear you cry, are you supposed to carry a lead, poo bags, toys and treats all at the same time, let alone the dog?
Well, check out Duck Soup’s range of neoprene treat bags. Made in Cornwall, available in a patterned or plain design, simply slip into a pocket or onto your belt loop or bag for an instant non-spill, easy access treat supply at your fingertips.
Back to Basics – Training your dog to focus on you!
The most common reason dogs pull is lack of focus and sheer excitement.
They’re naturally outdoor creatures and can’t wait to explore the big wide world around them. So much so, that they tune everything else out and obsess about getting to the next amazing place, where they can run free, make friends and roll around in all kinds of smellies. We should be taking lessons from them really!
Gaining your dog’s focus back might sound easier said than done but armed with your tasty weapon of choice this simple game will make sure you start off on the right paw from now on.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to shift your dog’s focus away from getting to where he’s going as quickly as possible and back to you.
- Start in a quiet/ secure location such as the house or garden and hold your dog on their lead in one hand and a treat in the other. Make sure that the dog knows you have something yummy but don’t let them have it.
- Hold your ‘treat’ arm out to the side at shoulder height as far away from your body as you can. Their focus will naturally be on the tasty thing that the mean human (that’s you) is keeping from them.
- Reward them the treat the second their focus moves from the treat to you. Don’t cheat by calling their name or making noises to attract their attention. Voluntary eye contact is the aim of the game. But you need to be quick as to not inadvertently praise the wrong thing.
The Clix Whizzclick combined whistle & clicker is the perfect tool to mark the exact moment you’re rewarding. Click it only when your dog does the desired action. In this case, looks you in the eye. This way they’ll instantly know they’ve been good and a tasty treat is on its way.
Practice enough and your dog will learn that focusing on you ends in nom-noms. Eventually you’ll be able to prolong the length of time you gaze into each other’s eyes, move your game outdoors to somewhere with a few more distractions and after that, to your walk.
Ultimately you want your canine companion to find joy in pleasing you, and not just because you control the good stuff. So, once you’re happy with your dog’s level of skill, gradually start with holding the goodies and just reward with a click instead.
Another game to gain focus is to make short unpredictable movements whilst out and about.
- Hold the lead in both hands across your body and keep it short.
- Stop, start and change direction frequently and quite literally zig-zag your way around town.
- If they’re not sure which way you’re going next they’ll be more likely to give you their full attention. Sure, you’ll look a bit crazy but hey.. think of the dream.
The super versatile HALTI All-In-One Lead is great for this.
Designed with a neoprene handle for comfort, this multi-function lead can also double as a tie-out tether; or be extended to use as a belt, ideal for running or hands-free control. Calm down, one step at a time!!!
The base of the lead has a super-strong elastic shock absorber, protecting both dog and owner from any sudden jolts and a close control handle making those tight turns on your zig-zag dog walk even easier.
Short and Sweet!
The only way to do this is to do it properly, and that will take time, so any ideas of instant success or quick fixes need to be well and truly chucked out of the window round about now.
Training should be exciting for both of you, not a chore.
Remember school? Remember how often you found yourself in a mid-class day dream, or acting up because you struggled to keep your concentration? Well dogs are no different.
3 or 4 five minute sessions is plenty, so 15-20 mins a day total will help maintain their focus and yours.
You see, you’re not just spending quality time with your best friend, you’re using it to mould them into the perfect canine citizen and by doing so, helping them live their best lives.
And that’s what it’s all about!
Still feel like your pup is taking the biscuit? Then consider a more direct solution.
With over an 80% success rate, try the innovative Thunder Leash.
This patent pending technology works by applying a safe level of pressure around the chest to discourage your dog from ripping your arm off.
Simple to fit and easy to use, just clip it onto your dog's collar like a normal lead that wraps around their torso which apples a controlled pressure to their chest when they pull. They learn that pulling increases the pressure and in turn learn to stop pulling.
We have seen some dogs get this straight away but generally you should give it a some time to allow the dog to learn. Some owners are able to control large breed dogs with minimum effort with a Thunder Leash.
Fully adjustable to fit all sizes and breeds, it's especially great for boisterous pups, stubborn strong dogs and older owners.
Plus, the Thunder Leash gets bonus points from us for easily converting back to a normal lead when pulling is no longer an issue.
If that’s not for you, placing something around the dog’s muzzle is also a very effective way to stop your dog pulling.
Halti Headcollars are a light-weight, comfortable answer to your pulling problems.
Worn around the muzzle and clipped to the collar, they come in 6 different sizes for a variety of breeds and still allow your dog to eat, drink, pant and yawn as normal.
Their unique design works by gently steering the head and therefore controlling the dog’s direction of movement, putting you back in the driving seat.
If your dog hasn’t worn a head collar before, follow these steps to introduce it to them gently and reduce any risk of distressing them;
- Start by showing your dog the headcollar, then reward them with treats or play. Remove the collar out of sight and stop the reward. This is positive reinforcement.
- Next use the headcollar to touch the dogs head, nose and neck and reward.
- Once the dog is happy to have the collar touching their head, practice taking on and off. Remember to reward when the collar is on.
- Then feed your dog a treat through the nose loop of the headcollar.
- Take it slow, gradually increase the amount of the loop that goes over your dog’s muzzle and reward.
- Gradually increase the length of time you leave the nose loop on.
- Once the dog is happy to have the nose loop around it’s muzzle bring the straps behind its head, clip the straps together and reward.
Don’t be put off if your pooch protests. Some dogs pick it up instantaneously while others take time. Think of it as the doggy equivalent to riding a bike. Take it slow and don’t progress from one step to the next until you’re absolutely sure you’ve got a happy hound on your hands.
If you’re after something a tad more traditional then check out the Halti Walking Harness instead.
Made from reflective, high grade nylon this harness has 5 fully adjustable points to ensure a comfortable fit for any breed or size of dog, two lead attachment rings putting you firmly back at the helm and a very practical close control handle.
But that’s not the best part, it’s also available in 3 different colours, red, purple and black, meaning stepping out in style has never been easier.
For maximum efficiency pair it with the super soft Halti Training Lead.
Featuring 8 different functions including double steering, hands free, dog coupler for walking multiple dogs at the same time and short, medium and long lengths for heel work, obedience or recall training.
Taking the Lead
The most important thing to remember is that YOU are in charge.
You’re the boss!! You choose the direction and you set the pace. You’re not being unreasonable and you’re certainly not a bad owner for wanting to enjoy your walks just as much as the dog does.
Just imagine the places you might end up if you never once pull back on the lead.
After all, good friends listen to your adventures, but best friends take them with you! (Anonymous)