Dog Training | On-lead Manners

So Bosun is nearly a year old now (I know right?! Where did that time go?). We've been through several phases of training with him, some definitely more successful than others!

He's got sit and stay pretty much nailed (woohoo!) and he is steady as a rock around feeding time (surprise surprise), he does not even flinch or move a muscle towards his food bowl until I say "get on".

His recall is still a work in progress which is to be expected as he goes through his various stages of adolescence. Sometimes he does come running back when I call him, sometimes he saunters back casually in his own time, and sometimes he stops and looks at me then decides that something else is more interesting and he runs off. There's no point getting angry with him when he comes back to you after this because all he learns is that he gets told off when he comes back to you. Why would he want to come back to you if he knows he's going to get shouted at?

He is only walked on the lead when he has to be under close control. For example if we are going shooting, he needs to be at my side until I need him to work. Or if we are around livestock, I want to make sure he is next to me so that I can concentrate on where we're going. When we're in the woods or in an empty open field, he is allowed to run free. I let him know this by using the command "go play" which tells him that nothing is expected of him at the moment until I recall him.

Another one of the things he HAD nailed was his on-lead walking. You always want a loose lead when he's walking next to you. He is going to be a rough-shooting gun dog so the theory behind this is that you can safely walk along with your dog on your left side and your gun crooked over your right elbow. If he's pulling and jumping around on the lead then that poses a risk so you train it out of them at a young age. And Bosun was really good at this, but he's suddenly decided over the last couple of weeks to start pulling again so we're going back to basics.

We start off with him sitting nicely next to me and then we set off with me saying "walk". I will also tap my left leg which is a silent command I can give him if we're trying to be quiet for tracking squirrels or pigeons. He is expected to walk nicely  next to me at my pace. If he begins to quicken pace and walk in front of me then he gets a quick check with the lead (a sharp tug) and a voice correction. I use a sharp "oi" which lets him know that behaviour is not pleasing me. If he does is again then he gets a sharper tug which will unbalance him and another voice correction. If he does it a third time then I firmly grab the scruff of his neck (not designed to hurt him) and put my face to his level and tell him with a loud voice correction that I am not happy with that behaviour. This usually sorts it out. Whenever we stop, he is expected to sit immediately and then we start again.


I have never been one for spanking a dog to correct behaviour. I don't believe that achieves anything. What I tend to use for corrections is grabbing him by the scruff of his neck because that's what his mother would do in the wild, and later on the pack leader. Your dog looks up to you for leadership and you have to find a calm, assertive way of teaching him what is expected of him. (and yes I do watch far too much of Cesar Milan's programmes).

So yes his lead walking is improving again now that we have gone back to basics. One thing that he is bad for however is spotting something interesting to chase and lunging for it, forgetting that he is on the lead. For example, hares. Deary me he loves to chase hares. He never gets even anywhere remotely near them, but he is full of enthusiasm. So if we're lead walking and he spots a hare, if I don't control the situation first then he goes "woohooooo!" and tries to take me with him. If I spot a hare first, then I immediately make him stop and stay and he is perfectly well behaved.

This lead to our old faithful lead getting broken, the little metal ring wasn't strong enough unfortunately and snapped. So this time, rather than ordering a lead off the internet, I went out to the local pet shop Northumbria Pets and had a good look at what they had.

The lead I chose for Bosun was this lovely red cotton one by a company called Creature Comforts. It is made of cotton so is actually really soft on your hands and doesn't chaff (bonus!). The little metal ring that creates the slip loop is really strong and fused as a whole ring so there is no risk of it snapping. The little stop that you move up and down to stop the loop getting bigger is also very, very strong which is a fantastic plus point. I am so happy I bought this lead, seriously it has made a huge difference to our daily walks already. You can buy it at several places online such as here. It is made in the UK and comes in red, blue, green and black. I chose red because it totally goes with Bo's colourations.

So I hope I have helped a few of you out with your on-going lead training if you are having troubles.
Do you have any questions or any further tips on lead training? Let me know!

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  1. I've just discovered your blog and love it already! I really enjoyed reading this post and Bosun is a beautiful dog. I've tried quite hard to teach my Jack Russell to have good manners on the lead and we did master it after a while - although she'll pull if either of my parents are walking her!
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

    1. Hi Jenny, thankyou so much for stopping by. Yes training with dogs is an ongoing process! I believe a dog is never "fully" trained!

  2. This is a great post! I don't have a dog but I used to walk them!!

    1. This could come in useful for you in the future then! Xxx

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