My dog chews his lead when we’re at the end of the walk. What can I do to prevent it?
Denise Price advises…
Dogs revert to puppy-like behaviours, such as mouthing, when they’re not quite sure what to do with themselves. As you’ve said that he does this at the end of the walk, I wonder if he’s over-tired. Chewing helps a dog to relax and the lead is dangling tantalisingly near and available, so he has a good old chomp on it. Check out if the duration and type of exercise he’s getting is appropriate. Is it too much? Is it too exciting? Is there enough down-time on his walk where he gets to chill and engage with the environment?
Make sure you aren’t letting your dog get over-stimulated on a walk – if he has a particularly exciting section of walk, calm him down with a short section of nose work and mooching. Walk slowly, hide a few treats in the long grass and ask him to, “Go sniff”. These are ideal alternative behaviours and when he’s sniffing, he won’t be chewing. Depending on your reaction to his behaviour, he might also think it is a game – especially if you pull the lead – he’s got you hooked into a game of tug! If he’s doing it for fun, stop tugging back. Stop, pause for a moment or two and stay calm. Then, give him a job to do – perhaps some short retrieves to perform. If he likes to be carrying something, ask him to find and hold a training dummy for a short while. Again, if he’s got something in his mouth, he won’t be chomping on the lead.
Finally, go back to basics – remind him that walking nicely by your side is where all the good stuff happens. Practise calm loose-lead walking when he’s not tired and get lots of good repetitions in. Sometimes, we become complacent with our dog’s loose-lead walking and forget to reinforce it when it’s going well.