Photography by Lauren Tweedie
So we all know that fun feeling of walking our pug, the grass, the sunshine, the snorting excitement & the panicked run as they pull us along with them & we are too worried they are going to choke themselves to stop!
Contrary to popular belief, Pugs have just as much capability of loose lead walking as any other dog. Sure their over excitability & the eagerness to love practically anything that comes their way is hard to compete with but with a little positive reinforcement & guidance you will have your pug loose lead & paying attention to you in no time.
Over the next few articles I will teach you how to have a perfectly well behaved pug on a lead. To start with how to teach your pug to walk on a loose lead, we will cover equipment & preparing your pug.
It is recommended that you walk your pug on a chest point lead or back attach harness.
Although it is true that there is a pressure point in the centre of a dogs chest that when pressure is applied to this point a dog has a reflexive reaction to push against it, when teaching a pug to loose lead walk we are voiding this pressure that makes this task difficult.
Flat collars or collars that apply pressure around the neck can cause unnecessary & dangerous discomfort to your pug. In saying that once you have taught your Pug to loose lead walk, a flat collar can be used without a problem.
Collars that go around the snout are not suitable for pugs for two main reasons:
- Because a pugs snout is too short to hold the collar over the nose or
- Using any harness that pulls around a pugs snout can be dangerous
- Most of these collars are designed to pull the dogs head around either to the side or down towards the chest
- This kind of pressure can be very dangerous to a pugs neck & spinal vertebrae
Preparing Your Pug
Before you can be out & about with your pug you first need to teach them in the comfort of your own home. You want your pug to focus on you, even when you are out & they are taking in the sights you want your pug to be keeping an eye on you or at least an ear out so they can be ready to listen to you.
You need to do this by starting your Pug off in a well known, quiet location to train like your backyard or home. By doing this you are optimising your chances of your pug paying attention to you.
Once you have your location sorted you need to find out your dogs favourite treat. Their dinner or something they get on a regular basis will not do. It is like being a child again & your parents asking you to clean your room, if you do one parent says “I will give you carrot sticks” the other says “I will give you McDonalds” who are you going to work harder for? The higher the value of the motivator the harder your Pug will work for it. Personally I recommend small amounts of cheese or BBQ chicken. These treats should only be used during training sessions & nothing else.
The Treat Game
- Have your Pug on a lead
- Place 2-3 treats in front of your pug
- Allow your Pug to sniff these treats but not eat them
- Walk back 3 paces & let your pug go
- Take note of which treat they go to first
- Reset the game but place their favourite treat & one other new treat in front of the pug & repeat the above
- Take note of the favourite treat & then you have your dogs favourite motivator!
Next you want your dog to focus on you, make eye contact with you. It is a myth that dogs cannot make eye contact with you. If a stranger walks up to you close & stares at you, you would feel uncomfortable , however, if it is someone you care about it can be a factor of love, adoration or a silly game but not threatening. The same applies to your pug.
Ask your pug to sit & reward with a treat
Place a treat between your fingers & say your pugs name as you raise the treat towards the side of your eyes.
Your dog will be focusing on the treat & when it begins to become impatient, your pug will make eye contact as if to say “hurry up!”. When your pug does this immediately say good & reward.
After the first few times your pug Is watching your hand, remove the food from your hand so your pug is following your hand & not just the food. Still reward the desired behaviour
Once your pug is making eye contact, wait 3-5 seconds before rewarding, gradually extending the time your dog makes eye contact with you.
This way is one of the most important baseline exercises to teach your pug. It can be used in loose lead walking, settling on the mat, directing them away from things & requesting them to a place from a comfy couch.
Ask Your Dog to sit & Reward
Put a treat in between your thumb & second finger & point your hand towards the ground.
Show your Pug your hand, pointing towards the ground & say this way, guiding your hand away so your dog takes 2-3 steps towards your hand. Reward immediately when they follow your hand.
If your Pug does not move it is generally due to one of two reasons. One you have moved your hand too quickly or two your movement has not been obvious enough, If it is option two try taking a step with your hand, this will prompt your pug to move with you. Ensure to practice with both hands. See how far you can get your Pug to follow your hand. Once your Pug is consistently following your hand remove the treats out of your hand asap & just have them follow your hand without the treat.
Stay tuned for the next part of how to teach your pug to walk on a loose lead.