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How can I get my dog to go back on his lead after exercise?

A reader has problems with a young dog who dances about, just out of reach, when it's time to put the lead back on after exercise

Slip lead on a spaniel

A slip lead must be used correctly

Q: My one-year-old standard poodle-springer is a happy, energetic, intelligent pet at home. He has a few issues with chewing, but we put that down to boredom and it is slowly getting better. However, I have now encountered 
a more serious issue. I take him every day to the fields and give 
him plenty of exercise by chucking a tennis ball, which he drops at my feet. However, when I call him to go home and get the lead out, he keeps dancing about just out of reach and is difficult to get back on the lead now. What should I do to stop him avoiding the lead at home time – advice needed on how to put my dog back on his lead please!

Teach the dog that wearing a lead is pleasurable

A: Dogs learn by repetition and whether they have gained pleasure or not from a behaviour. Your dog gets an abundance of pleasure chasing a ball and when that ends it is not pleasurable as he is restrained and has to go home. The sight of the lead 
is now a cue that his pleasure is about 
to cease. You are powerless to control 
a dog off-lead if he is not fully obedient on it first, and I suspect that is the case here. His freedom must be curtailed until you have that control.

Teaching a dog that wearing a lead 
is pleasurable is one of the easiest things to achieve. High-value treats are the 
first requirement — in the confines 
of the house or garden, teach him that 
every time the lead is put on he gets 
a treat. If he is reluctant to let you put the lead on at first, use the following method: call him to you, give a treat 
then let him go off again. Repeat until 
he comes for the treat keenly. Now have a slip lead slid over your hand and up the arm on the side that has the treat — as he takes it drop the lead around his neck. Reward again and take the lead off. If this is repeated often for a few weeks, he will soon be conditioned to see the lead as 
a cue that will earn him a treat.