Engagement to counter pulling

When a dog pulls on the lead it looks like this:

  1. Eyes fixed on a point ahead
  2. Tugging forward
  3. On a tight lead

To fix the unwanted behaviour, my training focuses on rewarding the opposite.

To me, loose lead walking looks like this:

  1. Engaged with me
  2. Walking beside
  3. On a slack lead

You can read my strategy for building value for build value for staying by your side by clicking here

Today my tips focus on improving step 1 in my criteria above, your dog’s focus on you.


The training principle you’ll be employing here is ‘operant conditioning’

Put simply: anything you reward will happen more often.

Training the exercise below you will be rewarding eye contact.

To flip a dog that has their eyes fixed on a point ahead on walks, to one that regularly checks in…

As this behaviour is non-compatible with pulling


Training Engagement

  1.  Grab a handful of food* before you start a walk.
  2. Drop a ‘freebie’ onto the floor and let your dog get it.
  3. Because it dropped, they’ll look up when they finish as if to ask if there’s more, say “good” (to mark their choice for checking in) and drop the next piece
  4. Repeat until the handful is used up.


*I use the pure meat pate we stock, because not only is it a tasty reward, it’s light colour contrasts with the ground and is easy for dogs to spot.

 pure meat pate

For the next 7 days start rewarding what you want on walks with treats your dog loves.

My recommendation: focus on rewarding every time your dog looks at you on a walk.


Please share your questions and progress: 

We would love to see how you get on with your dog’s loose lea walking training. For tips from me and to share success post your pictures and videos in the Anglian Dog Works Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/angliandogworks 


About the author:

Hi 👋 I’m Emma, accredited as a professional dog trainer by the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT). I help owners of energetic dogs achieve the dog-owning life they envisioned by providing robust obedience & agility training for dogs in Balsham and Barton, near Cambridge.

Disclaimer: The content of this article does not include personalised advice and is for information purposes only. If you need individual advice or other enquiries please click here to get in contact or if you're not local to Anglian Dog Works, you can find a trainer in your area by going to the IMDT website: https://www.imdt.uk.com/find-a-qualified-imdt-trainer