Direct Line magazine

Road safety for dogs

Updated on: 16 February 2021

A dog is walked by its owner.

Walking the dog

How do you teach your dog to cross roads safely? They’ll need to resist the urge to run off in pursuit of other dogs, people, squirrels or anything else that may have caught their attention.

The secret is good training. Master the art of walking your dog on a lead, and you won’t have to worry about what might happen when near busy streets.

Who’s the boss?

Does your dog constantly pull on the lead when out for a walk? The chances are that your actions unwittingly led to this behaviour.

Puppies will initially pull on their lead because they see the lead as the obstacle between them and that patch of grass or any other interesting thing they’ve set their sights on. Unless you train it out of your dog, your pooch will soon learn that pulling equals progress.

Without good leash technique, you can’t realistically hope to teach your dog to cross a road safely.

Leash control

One way to stop a dog pulling on a leash is to start with a loose leash. If the dog races forward until the leash is tight, change direction. Your dog will have no option but to follow you. It’s an excellent way to show that you’re in charge of the walk.

The red light/green light game is effective, too. Start walking forward, and as soon as your dog starts pulling on the leash, stop. Don’t look at your dog, talk or move forward. Once the lead pulling stops and your dog returns to your side you can start walking again.

You won’t actually walk very far during the first few weeks of training, but your dog will soon associate a loose leash with walking and leash pulling with making no progress.

Training your dog to cross roads safely

Once your dog is walking nicely on a loose leash, you’re ready to move on to road safety. Find a quiet street in which to practise. Start by teaching your dog to stop at a kerb by saying ‘stop’ as your dog comes up to the kerb. You should pull your dog back off the road if any attempt is made to step onto the road without permission.

Give your dog lots of praise when returning to the kerb, as this will affirm the correct behaviour. Keep doing this until the dog appears to understand your command and the action that’s required. Do this at every kerb, so it becomes ingrained in your dog.

Similarly, say ‘Let’s go’ as you take a step forward. This will become the signal for your dog to begin walking.

Don’t leave it to chance

However well‐behaved your dog becomes, never remove the lead unless there’s a barrier between yourselves and the road.

The sight of a squirrel on the other side of the pavement can make even the most well-trained dog lose their head, bolting across the road without a second thought. Keep your dog on a short lead and make sure that you walk roadside, acting as a barrier between the road and the dog.

Before long, your well‐behaved dog will be the envy of all your dog‐owning friends.



Find out about the options offered by Direct Line dog insurance.

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