I’ve never met a dog owner who actually enjoyed getting taken for a walk by their dog. When your dog pulls or even drags behind, outings are just no fun. You’re then more tempted to leave Fido at home whenever you go out because walking him is such a chore! Unfortunately, lack of exercise can then give rise to other behavior issues. The solution? Teach your dog how to walk politely on leash.
Step #1: Start with your dog to your side (left or right). Have your dog’s leash in hand, anchoring your hand to your stomach – your center of gravity. This hand should also be holding your clicker if you are using one. Have treats ready in the opposite hand and a reserve in your pocket or treat pouch.
Step #2: Start walking and if your dog follows on a loose leash (there should be no tension), mark (either with the clicker or the verbal marker, “Yes”) and reward your dog in the ideal position, right by your leg. Continue to mark and reward as long as you are walking on a slack leash together. When first starting to teach this behavior, your rate of reinforcement should be pretty high.
Step #3: Make a u-turn if your dog forges ahead of you. When you do an about face, your dog is all of sudden catching up to you, allowing you one or two opportunities to reinforce walking on a loose leash. When your dog pulls, you may also simply stop moving and wait for your dog to release the tension on the leash before moving forward.
Training Tip #1: If you find yourself using your arm a lot to steer your dog, you may be triggering your dog’s opposition reflex. If you pull one way, your dog’s body pulls harder in the other direction. Take your arm out of the equation by tethering your dog to your waist and working on polite leash walking this way.
Training Tip #2: Take a little help from the store! Your dog could benefit from a front clip harness, a special harness designed to discourage pulling. Give Paw Dog Training recommends the Freedom Harness made by 2 Hounds Designs.
Training Tip #3: Every dog needs to sniff. Make it clear to Fido that he is allowed to take a break from walking beside you by telling him, “Go Sniff” and then encouraging him to explore every tree and lamp post.
When you are working, you can use the cue, “Let’s Go”. This will help him differentiate between the two modes.
© Give Paw Dog Training LLC 2017