Walking nicely on a leash doesn’t come naturally and Labradors, just like any other breed, will happily try and pull you in the direction they want to go. While this may be OK with a puppy, these dogs can weigh up to 80lbs as adults; they are also excitable and naturally curious quite a combination that can result in them being powerful pullers.
Walking on a loose leash involves your dog walking on the inside of you furthest from the road and having no tension at all in the lead. Some owners find this difficult, especially if your dog is easily distracted.
All is not lost however, there are ways to prevent your pooch from dragging you around the neighbourhood.
If your canine companion pulls, this article will give you some tips and training methods on how to stop a Labrador pulling on a lead.
8 Tips on Training Your Lab to Walk Nicely on a Lead
1) Start loose lead training from day one
Having a new puppy is great fun and it’s easy to forget that behaviours such as pulling on the lead may seem funny in an 8-week-old Labrador are not so much with a fully grown one; that’s why it’s crucial to get the basics down and leash train from the off.
From day one, have a couple of short training sessions a day to teach your furbaby their name, sit, leave and come. All these things will let them know that doing what you ask will result in something positive
2) They need to focus on you
Getting your dog’s attention amidst distractions is a big bonus if you want them to quit pulling and this can be done before their even old enough to go for walks in the real world.
Train your dog to look at you when you call their name or give a command; once they can do this, amp it up a bit do it when you have visitors or get someone in the family to play with a ball in the room if Fido still looks at you when you say there name you’re winning.
3) Teaching self-control is vital if your dog pulls
Dogs need to be taught self-control; it doesn’t come naturally, they are a species that acts purely on instinct and if your Labs impulse means he pulls, it’s going to make daily walks a nightmare.
Some methods can be used to help your pup overcome their impulsiveness and they are simple enough that anyone can succeed with a bit of patience
Check out these excellent impulse control exercises
4) Collars and leads are important
Many dog owners choose a standard collar for their dogs and this is perfectly fine unless they pull like a steam train. Not only might it cause injury to the dog’s neck, but it may also even make the pulling worse.
This is down to a reflex named thigmotaxis (I can tell you’re impressed). This is why choke chains don’t stop pulling and should be avoided at all costs. Your dog’s collar should be wide and fit snugly.
The leash is important too; you want one that sits comfortably in your hand, is made from quality material and don’t use a short lead. Preventing tension when you use a short leash is going to be nigh on impossible 4-6 feet is the best option. A slip lead is often used for heel training working dogs.
Harnesses for Labradors are also a good option as they give more control to the owner and are generally safer.
5) Should you use a no-pull harness to stop your dog pulling?
Head collars and no-pull options are extremely popular for training as they can discourage pulling as if by magic; unfortunately, this isn’t the case with all dogs.
While they may address the issue in the short term, they are no substitute for effective training. The methods we’ve touched on, such as changing direction and rewarding good behaviour, work much better than a harness or head collar to stop your Lab pulling.
6) Break out the treats
Every owner knows that a Lab likes their grub, so there is no better motivation than rewarding good behaviour with a healthy titbit (just don’t overdo it)
When your canine companion walks in the correct position, offer a reward every few steps. If they start to pull, stop walking or walk in the opposite direction until the tension on the leash is released, then reward again. Your dog will soon learn that keeping the leash loose and walking in the heel position is a good thing and pulling isn’t
7) Never reward pulling when loose leash walking
Treats are not the only reward for a dog; if they start pulling to get to another dog and you follow him, that in itself is a reward. It’s important to be aware of this when you start training, as the first time you let your furry friend pull, all the hours you’ve spent working on this will be for nought.
Even if you intend to go where he is pulling, stand your ground or change direction and start walking away; once your dog stops pulling, you can return to your original route, thus showing him again that pulling gets him nowhere.
8) Does clicker training work?
There are mixed opinions about dog clickers, but we think they’re fantastic for most dogs if you use them correctly and they work brilliantly for teaching your dog to walk nicely.
Sometimes our instructions can be hard for our dog to understand, the tone of voice changes, you may reward your dog for lying down just as he is standing up, so he has no real idea what he has done right.
Using a clicker means the dog understands when that noise is heard, he has pleased you and a reward is forthcoming. This can be especially useful if other family members walk your dog or you have two dogs.
Why do Labradors pull so much?
They haven’t learned not to
Dogs pull; it’s a simple fact and if you adopt an older dog with no previous training, chances are they won’t be great walking companions and it’s not dominance or being naughty. It’s just what many dogs do.
If you address the problem by pulling in one direction, it will just make things worse. To teach your dog to walk on a loose lead takes time and patience, but it’s definitely worth it.
Your Lab will experience an explosion to their senses when they go for a walk; there are so many scents that tell them stories and there are places to explore around every corner, not to mention cars, people, and other dogs. Not surprising then with this sensory overload that training completely goes out of your dog’s head.
Top tip when leash training keep walks short and avoid places with other dogs; it’ll make things much easier.
Not Enough Exercise
Labs are a working dog that needs a lot of exercise to keep them healthy and happy; if your Labrador doesn’t get out much, has little off-lead activity or goes for a 10-minute walk twice a day, pulling will be the inevitable consequence.
You can try tiring them out before they go for a stroll with a game of tug or by throwing a ball in the garden.
This is a tough one to judge, more information on whether your lab is getting enough exercise then why not look at our other comprehensive exercise guides for Labradors.
Labradors are among the most intelligent breeds; however, they are large and can be boisterous and energetic, especially when young, so early training is essential.
The good news is their eagerness to please and devotion to their humans makes teaching them new things such as loose-leash training a walk in the park literally!
We hope you enjoyed this post and good luck teaching your Lab to walk by your side.