Want to know a dog-training secret? One that your dog would rather you didn’t know?
Shhhh! Dogs like pulling on the lead.
There are lots of reasons for this. Some breeds are simply designed to pull: Staffies and Huskies spring to mind, but lots of other dogs enjoy it too. Why? Well, because they get rewarded for it!
Think about what happens when you are about to take your dog out for a walk. You produce the lead, and he’s already getting excited – maybe he’s even jumping up and down like a demented yo-yo? You attach the lead to his collar, and as you head towards the door, he’s already pulling – but like a well-behaved human, you open it for him and let him go through. He then pulls you every step of the way to the park.
What you don’t realise is that each and every step he takes in the direction he wants to go is rewarding. It’s the basic rules of reinforcement at work, and he’s getting quicker and quicker and closer and closer to his final goal, the biggest reward of his entire day – being let off the lead! When you start to think of it in this way, it’s no wonder that dogs pull.
(PS. These sorts of ‘accidental’ reinforcements are something I discuss a lot in our accredited education programmes – check out ‘Think Dog! Certificate’ at www.thinkdog.org)