Why Is It So Hard To Teach Loose Leash Walking To A Setter Or Pointer Breed?

The answer lies in their genes:

The predatory motor pattern of Setters and Pointers includes running in big circles. They’re bred to search for wildlife and flush or indicate it, so that the human hunter can shoot it.

Arousal makes predation more likely to happen. When the dog is feeling nervous, excited or anxious, they fall back into a comforting behaviour that is easy for them to perform and that feels good to them… i.e. running in biiiig circles!

This is the very opposite of staying close and walking in a straight line which is what makes loose leash walking a challenge for them. And the shorter and tighter the leash becomes, the higher the frustration and tension the dog will feel. This leads to heightened arousal levels, which consequently means even more pulling! And so the cycle continues!

Pointer dog learns looese leash walking

So, what can you do about it?

Teach your dog as stress and conflict-free as possible through positive reinforcement and games.

Keep sessions short and sweet.

Reduce tension and frustration.

Avoid short, tight leashes. Particularly if they are attached to a collar.

Hi, I’m Simone!

Predation Substitute Expert &
Founder of Predation Substitute Training

Love to see you here! I’m a certified dog trainer and dog behaviour consultant (ATN) from Germany. I specialise in force-free anti-predation training and offer help to dog owners and professionals all over the world. Please let me know in the comments below, if this article was helpful for you!