Obedience Concerns

Pulling On Lead

If you allow your dog to pull while on lead, you teaching your dog that this behavior is acceptable!  Train your puppy to walk politely by your side.

To teach the your puppy to walk on lead, I recommend the use of a standard collar or a martingale collar.  Make sure you understand the proper use of the various types of choke collars if you decide to use this type of collar. There are several anti-pull harnesses that are effective with some dogs.  Some people use 2 different commands, "WALK" and "HEEL".  (Heel position is more restrictive and is used for more formal obedience exercises.  The "WALK" command allows your dog to move around within 4 to 6 feet from you.)  

Put a collar and leash on your puppy and head outside.  Follow the puppy around the yard, trying to avoid a situation with a tight leash.  Talk to your puppy in a happy playful tone.  Change direction when your puppy changes direction.  The next step is to get your puppy to change direction on command.  Using a very playful voice, say "THIS WAY" or "WITH ME'.  You want your puppy to follow you.  Continue each lesson for 3 to 5 minutes. 

Talk to your puppy in a soft, but upbeat tone of voice when the puppy is walking politely by your side.  Verbal praise is very important.  I also hold a small piece of food in front of the puppy to show the puppy where to walk.  It may take several weeks to teach your puppy to walk politely on lead, so be prepare to repeat the lesson, so be patient.


Jumping up onto people is another common problem. Owners often reward this behavior by patting and playing with their dogs.  Puppies jump on people to be close the their face.  They want your attention.  You can help avoid the problem if you come down to the puppy to say hello and without affection when the puppy jumps up.  If the puppy does jump, give the command "OFF" in a firm, assertive voice.  Gently but firmly put the puppy down if necessary.  Try to prevent your puppy from pumping up on family members and friends by firmly holding onto the collar and keeping your arm straight.  Giving your puppy attention when all paws are on the floor will help reinforce the no jumping rule.  The noise of the shake can works with some puppies.  A spray of water in the face works with others.  Find something that works with your puppy and stick with it.  

Remember to reward good behavior.  Give your puppy attention and praise when all 4 paws are on the floor.  Once the puppy learns the "SIT" command, you can teach the puppy to sit before getting your physical attention.  

If the problem persists, you can try to set up lessons with friends, neighbors, and coworkers.  Labs jump up on people to get their attention, so gaining the attention of the other person must be withheld.  If your Lab does jump up, have your friend or neighbor step back and turn away of your dog.  Your job is to gently regain control and place your dog in a sitting or standing position.  Then your friend can try to approach again.  If the dog jumps up, repeat the process.  If your Lab remains in a standing or sitting position, your friend can calmly pet your dog.  To help reduce the temptation to jump, ask your friend bend down to greet your puppy.  A food treat may be helpful to reward polite behavior.  At first, short training sessions are best.  It is important to end the session on a positive note, so you may need to end the session with a command you know your dog will obey.  You may need to repeat this procedure several times.  Be consistent and do not reward the undesirable behavior at home or during outings. 

The "OFF" command is also used for teaching the puppy to get off the sofa.  Say "OFF" and very gently push the puppy off the sofa.  Praise the puppy when he is on the floor.  (The "DOWN" command is used when you want your dog to be lying down on the ground or floor. This is very different than not jumping up.  Use "OFF" when you want all paws on the floor.)

Recall Problems

Dogs that fail to come when called are at risk. Recall problems are often associated with inadequate amounts of exercise. Try to prevent a situation where your dog can gain freedom while you are teaching your dog to come when called. Practice the recall lessons in a controlled setting such as a fenced-in area or in an enclosed indoor area.  Using a long line or retractable leash is often useful.  The exercise is easier with 2 people, one person  to hold the dog and the other person to call the dog.  Practice, practice, practice. Remember to always reward your dog for returning to you with lots of praise and/or small treats.

Do not give a command that you can not enforce. If  you can't enforce the recall command, your dog may learn that coming to you when called is optional. Only give the command "COME" when your puppy/dog is on a long training line or  when you are confident that your dog will return to you. 

If your dog runs away from you, try to attract him back. Chasing after him usually makes matters worse.  A calm tone is important. Try a treat, get a tennis ball, or get in the car if your dog loves rides.  Talk to your dog in a positive manner and say "let's play" or "want to go for a walk" or "get a biscuit".  When your dog finally comes, praise him for coming to you, no matter how frustrated you are.  Dogs associate praise or a correction with the most immediate action. Your dog will associates a scolding with coming to you, not escaping form you several minutes ago.  If your dog is punished for returning to you, he/she may not willing to come to you next time!  Returning to you must always be a rewarding experience for you dog.  If you promised your dog a walk, a ride or a treat for coming to you, follow through with your promise!