Direct Line magazine

How to walk a difficult dog

Updated on: 22 September 2021

A dog pulls on a rope.

Most dogs start tugging on the lead when they see the park gates, but what about the hounds that don’t like walking at all? The ones that stop dead in their tracks, and nothing in the world will make them budge?

Meet Hodge…

Hodge is a perfect example of a dog that dictates what he does and doesn’t do. When he goes out for a walk, Hodge stops in his tracks and refuses to move.

And, being a basset hound, Hodge’s brain is ruled by his nostrils. If he gets a scent of something alluring, he’s off to investigate without a backwards glance.

Hodge’s owners thought they’d never be able to take him on a relaxing walk – and letting him off the lead was a distant dream.

Something had to be done, and they sought help from Steve.

Meet Steve…

Steve is a behavioural therapist who believes it’s up to owners to change their behaviour – because if you know how to behave, then your dog should follow suit.

With 25 years of experience, Steve was ready for the Hodge challenge.

Watch the video to see how Steve and Hodge got on:

Tips for walking your dog on the lead

Our research showed 25% of dog owners choose never to take their dog off the lead when walking.

It could be this lack of confidence that makes your difficult dog dig its claws into the pavement or run for the hills at the first whiff of freedom.

Here are Steve’s top tips when walking a stubborn dog:

  1. Don’t pull on the lead if your dog stops in its tracks. It becomes a battle that you ultimately won’t win.

  2. Do relax and walk where you want to go.

  3. Do be patient if your dog stops and refuses to move, and only praise movement.

  4. Do step to the side of your dog to encourage movement and apply gentle pressure with the lead. If you make the dog feel unbalanced, it’ll create movement.

  5. Don’t forget to praise your dog for being well behaved.

If your dog has a stubborn moment when it’s on the lead, then hopefully these tips will get it moving.

Steve says: “The blame needs to be looked at on the other end of the lead; it’s how you react as an owner when your dog misbehaves that’s key. You should give calm behaviour the attention it deserves. Sometimes dogs misbehave because they’re shown more attention when they’re causing a fuss.”

Tips to stop your dog stealing food

Now we’ve covered walking on the lead, here are Steve’s tips if your dog is being a food thief…

  1. Don’t tell your dog off as this gives attention to something you don’t want.

  2. Don’t rush after your dog because then it becomes a game.

  3. Do attach a lead to your dog so you can catch it easier.

  4. Do hold your dog’s collar so the head is above the backbone and wait. Your dog will spit out whatever it’s stolen.

  5. Don’t pick up what it dropped or they’ll think you want it and it turns into a game again.

  6. Don’t leave food where your dog can get it, and try to keep bins out of reach.

  7. Do remember to always praise your dog for being calm and well behaved.

If you practice these simple tips your dog should become better behaved in no time. But like Steve says, if you adjust your behaviour, your dog will follow your lead. Good luck.

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

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