Is there another way to teach springer spaniels to heel without pulling their lead?

Maggie our springer spaniel puppy is now nearing nine months and has turned out to be a lovely dog.


Problem is: she pulls when we walk. She is in obedience training, but we disagree with our trainer, as she wants us to sharply pull Maggie's neck when Maggie wants to run ahead. We refuse to sharply pull Maggie's neck in to submission. Any suggestions?

From Anna@love-springer-spaniels.com

I have used that on George and it has worked, but there are other methods. One which is currently very popular is to change direction every time they pull, sending them the message that you control where thry want to go.

It takes time and patience and at first it takes a long while to get anywhere, but it is good with springers as they are bright, and really want to go on their walks.


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Jan 24, 2017
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Walking to Heel NEW
by: Fly's Owner

Today, I have started Walk to Heel train our 5 month Springer "Fly" After reading several blogs via the internet I have chosen the loose lead approach. I did have him on a harness but found a long lead approximately 5' and collar much more effective! He prefers it too!

Firstly making him sit before we start the walk so he's calm.

I use a very small piece of Cheese in my right hand so he's able to smell it before we start the walk. I have been walking in an area without too many distractions which helps immensely. (His first lesson was in the back garden)

We set off on a loose lead, keeping my body language calm, my hand down by my side, Fly will stay at my side concentrating on the Cheese. Every now and then I'll say the command "Heel"

If for any reason he pulls and lunges ahead, I call his name or whistle, not pulling him back to my side but encourage him to come back on his own accord. When I have his full attention I Start the walk again, if he continues to pull I call him and walk him in the opposite direction (just a few steps) until the lead goes slack. Once he's calmed down we walk again.
Whilst walking I'll maybe turn in a small circle,again making sure he follows me, not pulling him but of his own free will. When I have his full attention on me then I give the command "Heel" I find one word commands are all you need whilst training.

Today Fly's first Walk to Heel training went very well, my husband also walks him and does the same routine, this way Fly does not get confused and complies to the same commands.

I'm hoping tomorrow again will bring good results, we're being very patient, firm, but above all kind.

We love him.








Sep 23, 2014
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Leads for springers NEW
by: Claire

We used a halti on one of our springers which did the trick great, as soon as you put it on, walks on the lead became much easier. The problem was he really didn't like it, we thought he might get used to it but after a month he was still scratching at his face until it came off. We instead put him on an old harness we used to use for our boxer. He still does the occasional lunge and the lead is usually taut but the strength of his pulling is a lot less and he is much easier to control. We tried the halti on our other springer and again it worked great, he seemed comfortable with it for a few weeks but he's started frantically trying to get it off as we're walking along so we're looking for a harness for him too now. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions as to what kind of harness is good for a springer spaniel? Whats worked well for you?

May 04, 2013
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clicker training works NEW
by: Nickyts

Clicker training really does work, my 11 month old responds incredibly well to this form of training. You have to break down the exercises, and be patient, but you will find this a great addition to your training regime. Lots of tutorials on youtube.

We were told not to use a gentle leader with an extending lead.

Jun 03, 2012
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Heeling NEW
by: Michele

Another tip - you need to relax during training! Dogs pick up on your energy! If you're nervous or dreading the training session they know this and that can tend to cause them to be difficult. Someone mentioned their dog walks perfectly when at doggie daycare...that's because the handler is completely in control and not at all apprehensive!

Jun 02, 2012
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Heeling NEW
by: Michele

A simple chain collar works well. You don't have to 'sharply pull'. A couple of quick short tugs does the trick, while at the same time saying 'heel'. You can click your tongue or snap your fingers to get there attention while you're giving the heel command.

You could also try a Halti collar. I have never used one, but have seen others using them and they swear by them. You can get them at most pet stores for around $15.00.

Jun 01, 2012
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slip leads? NEW
by: Lindsey

Our 14 week old working line Springer is a really strong boy and judging by the size of his paws he is going to be a big boy when fully grown. The problem I have is he is hurting me when we go for walks (I mean sports injury kind of hurt) this week I tore a muscle in my side.

He just pulls constantly when out of the house even to the point where he is gasping, but wont go more than 5 meters from me when off his lead. My husband can deal with the pulling as he's a strong man but I am quite petite and I dread walking him on his lead.

When he goes to doggy daycare they walk him to the van using a slip lead and he trots alongside perfectly well behaved.
I have done some reading on them and it seems many people are really against them, but if it helps us both enjoy our walks and he walks well on it surely thats what is important?
I would appreciate your thoughts.


Apr 25, 2012
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Very Bad Pulling NEW
by: Anonymous

I have a rescued Springer. She's around a year and 4 moths old, but we're not too sure, and she's made entirely out of muscle! We had her on a collar, but she ended up half-choking herself, so we now use a harness.
She pulls so, so badly! I've been to the doctor on numerous occasions with tennis elbow and damaged shoulders. We've tried a non-pull harness, which brought it down a bit, but left raw red patches on her chest, so we scrapped that. We then tried a Halti, which stopped pulling completely, but only because she got herself so tangled up in it while trying to pull it off!
We also have great difficulty trying to get her to come back to us. She will come instantly at home, but out on a walk, you could hold her hed in your hands, and call her, and she still won't look at you! No amount of food, excited voices or toys can grab her attention, which means that she cannot be let off the lead at all, making walks hell for both of us!

Feb 26, 2012
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Please help with walking NEW
by: Ruth

Hi my springer spaniel is 11 months old, he is extremly strong and wears a gentle leader (halti) when out walking, this doesnt prevent him pulling and he tends to walk on his back legs using his front two paws to scratch the leader off his face. Dexter is so stong he has pulled me off my feet a few times, looking for suggestion please. Other than his walking Dexter is the most loving and well behaved dog.

Feb 07, 2011
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Is there another way to teach springer spaniels to heel without pulling their lead?
by: Anonymous

Hi, a reply regarding the pulling of the lead,
While walking your dog it is important to not let the head go to the floor, if this happens they go into migration mode and will take no notice of you.
You don't have to jerk the head up too hard, try not to look down at the dog too much as the dog see's this as a weakness on your part, as though you are seeking his/her advice.
before you set off on a walk, make sure you leave the doorway before the dog, this helps to put you as leader, once outside stop and have he/her sit and don't set off until he/she is sat calmly.
this tells the dog you are in charge, if the lead is long enough, have it in both hands, keep the hand on the dogs side relaxed but firm with just enough lead to feel when the head lowers.
Everytime the head lowers just a light snatch of the lead upwards and stop walking is enough to correct it.
But when snatching, the lead must come up not back, pulling back urges the dog on more.
Another tip, If you have trained the dog to heel, while walking every time she pulls stop walking and gently guide him/her to the heel position and don't set off again until they are calm, they soon get to realise that if they want to proceed it must be in a calm manner.
Hope this helps, our 10 month old Springer is walking on a loose lead now, it took a few months but it's worth it now

Jan 03, 2011
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Pulling on lead
by: Michaela

Hi, my dog is slightly different being a cross between springer spaniel and labrador, but he pulled for ages to sniff, no matter what I did, but I found out that the muscles lower down on any dogs neck are so tough that leads dont have much of an affect\ effect...(effect affect I never know which one it is!) BUT if you put the colar\ lead higher up on their necks, just behind the ears and make sure you can still get two fingers inbetween it so it doesnt hurt them they become much more aware of the collar and it works brilliantly, it has really helped my dog to walk on the lead and I'm much more relaxed now because of it, which is another thing, make sure you are calm and assertive when you walk, I found it hard to stay calm and he picked up on it and would become tense :) hope it helps, I highly reccomend this site for guidlines in future in case you don't know it! http://www.cesarsway.com/ and there is also a collar for pulling called the Illusion collar and though I haven't used one, they seem to work pretty effectively for those who do! Good luck! :D

May 09, 2010
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Walking to Heel
by: Springer Rescue

I work in a canine hydrotherapy pool and we see a lot of neck injuries caused by folk pulling on the lead to get their dog to walk to heel because their trainer has told them to do it. So well done for not going with your trainer's suggestion!

It is far better for health reasons to use a harness as that spreads the load across their muscles and doesn't put pressure on an area which can be easily damaged.

You can use a number of methods to lead train but they do take time and patience! You can use the changing direction as suggested above by Anna - make sure though that you change direction with enough lead left that you don't end up yanking the dog! Or you can use the stop start where you stop moving when the dog pulls and only move forward when the lead is loose.

Or you can clicker train them starting off from a sit to heel and moving from there.

Good luck.


May 05, 2010
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pulling on lead
by: lynda

i had the same problem with sophie, she pulled to sniff things, she did not like the gentle leader much, I found a harness which goes around her body was the best for me as i have bad shoulders, It is not much good i suppose for training, i just needed the help when taking them for walks, As she has got older she is good now.

Apr 22, 2010
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Pulling
by: Kelly

Our 8 month old Springer Juno is a terrible puller. She's great off lead but there are times when we need her on the leash and, until this week, she was ripping my arm out of the socket. We have her in training and she will heel for short periods on command - in fact she's GREAT with all other aspects of training. This week I purchased a gentle leader for her and it works great. She doesn't like it but I was told to expect that by other owners. She willing walks on it but spends some time pouting when I first put it on. It has completely eliminated the pulling. I use it with my extending leash as well and that's a good combination. She walks only to the end of the extended leash but no further. It's making leash walking much more pleasant.

Apr 15, 2010
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pulling springers
by: Lucy

Our 9 month old springer is the same he seems to pull me more than my husband, when i take him out he goes on a shorter lead and my husband takes him out on the training lead.
The problem with Hendrix (our springer) is that he loves to be off his lead but there are occasions when i have to lead walking him which he doesnt always like as he does like the freedom. But with the help of this website im slowly learning how to manage a very loving and loyal and hypo springer.

Apr 15, 2010
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try a halti
by: sue dyhouse

I had the same problem with bonnie this was cured by using a halti and a long lead also I used the clicker trainging method with bonnie where she recognised the click that she was doing things correctly for which she was rewarded bonnie no longer has a halti and I can pull her back just by the way I hold her lead good luck

Apr 15, 2010
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HEEL TRAINING
by: DREW

i use a traning lead to train jerry not to pull i start him from the sit keeping him close to me.
I guide him round handy picnic benches in the park.
If there are no benches i walk him 12 to 14 feet and change direction without notice.
This is done for a 10 minutes session on every walk and it works like a dream (remember you are not only training a dog you a training a human too)

Apr 14, 2010
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Same problem
by: Gary

Tomorrow I'm headed to PetSmart purchase a gentle leader. Its a harnes that goes around their nose. Around $20 I think. I'll let you know how it works. Our Ruby is 10 months old and getting very strong at pulling. Hope this helps.

Apr 14, 2010
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Pulling
by: Michele

Pulling the lead is the most common way to train a dog to heel. I've always used that method and my dogs heel well. Tugging on the lead does not hurt them, but it does get their attention.

As already suggested, pulling the lead to the side can also work, but in my opinion it takes a lot more patience and longer to train. If you decide to try that there are special leads that also wrap around the nose, making it easier to move their face in another direction.

One thing I am wondering is this; if you are not a trained dog obedience trainer why do you disagree with your trainer?

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