How Can I Teach My Dog To Be Led by the Collar?

Once your dog is willing to let you touch her collar, teach her to follow a collar pull using a food lure. Do a small pull on the collar and immediately present a treat in front of her nose, just out of reach. If she makes any attempt to walk toward the treat, mark and reward with the treat. As your dog becomes more comfortable with this, move the food lure in front of her and pull lightly on her collar. Keep in mind that you will only need a slight and gentle collar pull to get your dog moving. You should never pull sharply on the collar, as this can injure your dog's neck or trachea (the main airway for breathing).

As soon as she is moving, stop pulling; you should be using the collar to guide the dog in the right direction, not pull her along. If she refuses to move forward, reward small movements, such as edging her nose out toward the food lure.

Phase Out the Food Lure

Once your dog is moving readily when you pull on her collar and walking after the food lure, remove the food lure and hide the hand with the treat in it behind your back. Do a small pull on your dog’s collar, and if she makes any slight move in response to the pressure, immediately reward with a treat. If she doesn’t move right away, wait a second and then pull out the hidden treat and present it in front of your dog to encourage movement. Once you repeat the collar pull and reward, your dog should readily start walking in the direction of the collar pull to get her treat.

You can also practice turning while you’re walking by turning your body and walking forward in the direction you want to go. While most dogs will naturally turn with you, you may need to use a food lure to direct some dogs in the proper direction. For dogs who need a lure to turn, fade this over time by rewarding them for turning even slightly in the direction you are gently pulling toward and pulling out the food lure after a couple of seconds if your dog doesn’t follow.

You can start to integrate other rewards to wean your dog off treats, such as praise, petting or a toy. Over time, being led by the collar should become like second nature to your dog and she should readily follow your lead.


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