Puppy won’t listen to me
My first Labrador was a joy to train and I never used a lead at all. She was good and steady all her life. I lost her last year and now have a six-month-old bitch, but I cannot seem to get on the same wavelength as her. I tried without a lead but gave up, and I am still having problems getting her to listen — even on the lead when I can tug it to make her take notice.
I have also taught puppies to follow at heel without a lead, but that was usually when they were tired after a long run with the older dogs, and being tired they were very compliant when it came to getting them under control on the slow walk back to the kennels. This did not replace using the lead during obedience training and I would never advocate trying to educate a puppy without a lead being used at all. It is an essential way of keeping an alert and intelligent puppy safe and secure until it is taught to be under full control off the lead.
Just because she is on a lead does not mean that she should automatically pay attention to you — the lead is just a means to an end and should not be used to try to tug her into a response. You now have to build mutual trust by teaching her that looking at you will instantly earn a treat. Each time she glances up give a treat — do not force her to look but wait until it happens naturally.
With patience, her attention will focus more on you with each repetition of this positive reinforcement. Her education should be pleasurable and this will also keep you in a positive frame of mind to help the process move forward. PR