At South Valley Veterinary Clinic, we love to see people enjoying their pets. Seeing puppies graduate from our puppy school with new skills and learning to fit in with their new family is one of the really rewarding experiences of our profession. For many people, walking their dog is a great way to interact with their dog, other dog owners and keep fit at the same time. It is often also a way to mentally unwind and can be a favourite time of day. But not always……

If the last couple of sentences makes you this wistfully of what you thought walking your dog should be like but isn’t (!), then read on! You are one of many dog owners who find dog walking such an ordeal that it eventually gets relegated to the ‘too hard’ basket.

Well, maybe your experience is not quite as extreme as this photo but perhaps you can still relate to the feeling of being out of control, not too mention the damage being done to your shoulders and back.

So how do you change your pooch from straining on its leash like there is a:

A. juicy bone

B. new best friend

C. local dog park

D. cat behind the fence that it saw there three months ago(!)

just around the corner?

Getting your dog to walk on a loose lead can be trained but if your dog is already used to pulling then re-training it can take a bit longer.

One useful way to teach your dog not to pull is to act like a tree when your dog pulls against you. Just stand stock still and do not move whilst your dog is straining on the leash. As soon as he/she stops straining and looks around to see why you are not following, then walk on until the leash is taut again. Then stop! Wait until your dog slackens on the lead slightly, and start again. Only move forward when the lead is not pulled tight. Do not pull back on your dog at any stage – let him/her do all the pulling! Eventually your dog will work out that the only way he/she can go forward is to not pull but have the lead loose.

For really determined leash pullers this can take quite a while and a lot of patience. Which is where the Gentle Leader (Beaupets Australia) can help. These are a type of head collar that can really help reduce the amount of pulling a dog will do. I think they are a fantastic training aid, because the lead attaches under the dog’s neck and when he/she pulls against it, the head is tucked under and helps prevent him/her pull against you. So much more control without nearly as much effort!

It is important to fit them and introduce them to your dog properly. And that is where we can help! Paula, one of our nurses who runs our puppy classes, has been helping clients for quite a while fit Gentle Leaders to their dogs and get them walking around the clinic on them. She is very good at it and has got a lot of feedback from clients about how wonderful they find being able to walk their dogs again! So pop down with your dog to buy a Gentle Leader from us and Paula will gladly fit it on your dog and help you feel confident using it. If she is not on duty that day, then we can arrange a time for you to come back down to get her help. There is no charge for this – the reward for us is seeing you enjoying walking your dog.

However you decide to train your dog to walk on a loose lead, keep trying until you succeed. Call us for help if you need a hand. At South Valley Veterinary Clinic, we are keen to see you enjoying your dog.