Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tips: Loose Leash Walking

Pulling on the leash is one of the most frustrating behaviors for many owners.  Sadly it can make the difference between a dog getting walked regularly and a dog who is only turned out into the backyard.  But it's not a surprise to me.  Teaching a dog to walk on a loose leash isn't easy.  I wish I could say that it is, but it's not.  Sit, easy.  Down, easy.  Even teaching a dog to heel can be easy compared to loose leash walking (and yes, I consider them two separate behaviors).  However, please note, I am NOT saying it's impossible!  It just takes a little time and consistency.  And we can all manage that for our best friends, right?

So, here are some tips:
  • Clicker train your dog.  Using clicker training will make the process faster, easier and clearer for your dog.
  • Consider some special equipment.  There are plenty of tools available, such as a front clip harness, to make walks more enjoyable (for you!) while your dog is still learning not to pull.  Have a trainer help you pick the right one for you and your dog.
  • Click for slack in the leash.  When you start out, click & treat frequently whenever your dog is not pulling.  This might mean you go through a lot of treats - consider using his breakfast if he'll work for kibble.
  • If he pulls, STOP.  If he pulls on the leash and gets to go smell the grass, pee on a bush, or meet another dog, you can bet he'll think that pulling brings great rewards.
  • Start slowly.  If your dog is just getting used to walking without pulling in your neighborhood, or early in the morning when there aren't many people out, don't expect him to be just as successful in front of the dog park or near that pond with all the ducks!

Apple and Ethan (age 3) walking with a nice loose leash.

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