A DOG trick master has issued expert advice to pooch owners who can’t get their pet to return to them when off the lead.

It comes off the back of National Pet Month which aims to celebrate and raise awareness of responsible pet ownership.

Joe Nutkins, a certified trick dog trainer from Ardleigh, shared her top tips with the Gazette to help show walking your pet while on the lead can still be a fun exercise.

She explained: “So many dogs are allowed to just free roam off their leads, purely because they aren’t trained well enough on them and so pull, hurting our arms and shoulders.

“We don’t engage with them as much as we should. If we engage more then they want to get involved and spend more time with us.

“As a result of lack of engagement, they look for their own forms of entertainment and so pull in an attempt to sniff or find some fun.

“If you have this problem you should practice at home first. Use treats or toys in your spare hand, with the other holding the lead, and talk to them, praise them for staying by your side.

Gazette: Joe with dogs Merlin and RipleyJoe with dogs Merlin and Ripley

“Something as simple as this doesn’t take a lot but it makes it more fun for the dogs, and for us. It really quickly helps them learn that walking nicely and not pulling is good and it will be rewarded – they’ll then want to explore it.

“It’s a great way of showing being close to us can be fun and it can stop the pulling. If we’re on our phones then they will look elsewhere for entertainment.

“However, it’s possible for them to think ‘ooh, the lead is going on, what are we going to do?’, rather than feeling restricted.

“Sometimes leads and collars fail, so if you’ve worked on recall you’re more likely to prevent your dog racing off because you’ve prepared yourself for the unexpected.”

As part of National Pet Month, owners were encouraged to take into account the effect your dog could have on someone or their pet.

And the Gazette gathered more than 350 responses when we asked readers if owners should be made to keep their pet on its lead in all public places.

Nikki Smith called for common sense, she said: “No. Dogs need exercise and the opportunity to run off the lead, play fetch etcetera, especially if you have a bigger breed that needs more exercise.

“It takes a bit of common sense. Have dogs on leads in busy areas, around children, or if you see someone approaching who is scared or has their dog on a lead. Most importantly be a good, respectful dog owner.”

While Den Stewart said they should be kept on a lead at all times when in a public place.

She added: “If you are in an open field, your dog's recall is excellent and no-one else is about, let them have a run. Not at any other times, to protect both your dog and others.”