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Pulling on the lead – Step 1

Leaving the house

Start to perform your walk routine at least twenty minutes before you actually want to leave. Putting on your coat, walking shoes, gathering walking necessities and locking the door should all be spaced over a period of time, continuing the next step only once your dog is calm.

Next, attach the lead, if your dog becomes excitable simply drop the lead and walk away, ignoring them completely until they are calm. Once calmed down; approach again and pick up the lead, if your dog remains calm then you can proceed towards the door. If at this point the dog becomes excitable and at any stage and starts to pull forward, simply drop the lead, walk away and again, ignore him until calmed down. While this may feel harsh, your dog needs to learn that behaving excitably and pulling actually delays the fun rather than inducing it.

Note: You should also remain calm and show little reaction at all times. Try to not say anything to your dog as you practise this exercise, allowing him or her to work it out for themselves will bring more consistent, long term results!

Next, walk to the usual exit door with your dog on lead; open the door a little, if your dog lunges forward and attempts to push through ahead of you then simply close the door (gently using your lead to ensure no toes or noses are trapped in the closing door!). Repeat this by gradually opening the door a little wider each time until you can fully open the door without your dog attempting to go through.

Note: Repetition and patience is key! Set aside some time for this as it may take quite a few repetitions until he learns that attempting to leave the house ahead of you is a pointless behaviour!

Once you can open the door fully with your dog remaining stationary; you should step through the door yourself, if your dog attempts to follow then immediately step back inside and close the door as above. Repeat until your dog remains inside and you can them a command such as ‘ok’ or ‘come through’ to give permission to follow. This behaviour should be practised every time your dog leaves the house (even if you are taking them out to the car) and can be repeated at garden gates etc until you are able to completely leave your property with a dog who is under control, listening to you and in thinking mode!


Fiona Whelan ~ Pet Behaviourist

Fiona has been working at the Training and Behaviour Centre as a behaviour specialist since 2002, and previously ran her own training and behaviour establishment in Lincolnshire for seven years so has a wealth of experience as a behaviour counsellor.