One of the biggest problems dog owners experience is out on the walk. The reason for this is due to the psychology of the pack needing a leader and more often than not, the dog thinks that he is it.
If the dog believes he is the leader then he believes he should be at the front of the pack and this is why you will see owners being pulled by their dogs.
Assessing the world through the dog’s eyes is paramount to helping him walk to heel. In order to change the dogs mind from pulling, we have to communicate in a gentle language he will understand.
The dog believing he is the leader believes it is his job to protect the pack and anything that approaches such as other dogs, joggers or cars could be perceived as a threat.
This creates all sorts of problems as the dog in a human ruled world will react to the threat in three ways: Flight, freeze and fight.
To help the dog stay calm in a world it does not understand, we have to switch roles and become the leader. When you achieve this, the dog will have no responsibilities and look to you to react at the potential dangers. To reverse roles and teach the dog to heel we have to go back to basics where the walk starts and identify and progress through the stages. As we complete a stage we can then move forward.
Firstly practice walking up and down the house with food reward encouraging your dog by your side rewarding him on a regular basis when he gets it right. As the dog understands where a good place to be is then you are ready to begin the first stage. The idea behind the stages is to start in a place where the dog feels comfortable with no distractions and build the foundations, as the dog improves you then slowly work up to a place with more distractions.
About the Author
Nigel Reed is a dog behaviourist from London. For further details about his work or to set up a consulation, visit www.dogtraininginlondon.co.uk