Pulling on the Lead!

by Fiona Sinclair // October 2017

Rebus is a typically lively juvenile working-type Cocker Spaniel. He is always busy and loves to put his nose to the ground and follow whatever scent he finds. Unfortunately, Rebus also had a bit of a habit of pulling on his lead, and his owners found it difficult to walk Rebus anywhere on lead because of this.

As Rebus matured and grew, the pulling became more problematic because he was even bigger and stronger! Rebus’ owners called Dog School and signed up to one of our 5 week courses, we teach a lot of vital skills over the 5 weeks, including “loose-lead walking” but as we have at least 2 coaches, and volunteers in every class, we were able to offer them extra support with teaching Rebus to walk nicely on the lead with his family.

It is no easy feat to stop a dog pulling on the lead when he has already got into the habit. Luckily Rebus’ family were patient, and happy to put in the hard work – 2 key ingredients to success!

The first lesson in loose-lead training is to teach the dog that pulling does not work, and that he will only get where he wants to go when there is no pressure on the lead. Head Coach Julie showed Rebus’ owners how to teach Rebus this new rule by asking the owners to walk forward with Rebus on the lead, but stopping every time he pulled. They would only start moving forward again when Rebus stepped back and the pressure on the lead was released, a “loose-lead”.

During the first couple of weeks, Rebus progressed from walking only one step before pulling to walking 8 steps before pulling. This was amazing progress but not perfect yet, as it meant that his owners had to stop and wait every 8 steps in their walk! This is where the patience and hard work comes in. Rebus’ family were able to appreciate the amazing progress he had made – after all, he was 8x better than before they started Dog School! They kept practicing both at home and with the support of the coaches on their Saturday morning class.

By the end of the course, and with lots of practice at home, Rebus’ owner Tiggy was able to report that they had managed 110 steps without pulling! What a fantastic achievement! Rebus also signed up for another five-week block of Adult Dog Training Classes to practice even more, he was top of the class when it came to loose-lead walking! He graduated with flying colours, a brilliant example of how a little Dog School knowledge and owner hard work can get results. Well done Tiggy and Rebus.

Tiggy gave us this feedback: “Dog School showed us easy methods to apply in bringing out the best in our dog and us”.

If you are interested in bringing your dog along to our classes, to see what you can you can achieve, contact us on edinburghdogschool@dogstrust.org.uk for more details.

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