Loose Leash Walking
Everybody wants it. Aside from contacting me for behavioural help, this is typically the first thing people tell me they want when they enquire about general dog training. “I want my dog to walk nicely on a lead”
So, here are some of my thoughts on loose leash walking, I’ll try and keep it simple.
- Your dog is not born knowing how to walk in a straight line on a leash, and unless it has been taught previously, you will need to teach your dog how.
- Like any skill your dog needs to learn, walking appropriately on a lead is a quite advanced skill. If your furry companion is not willing to listen to you in the house, then I think it would be a fair guess to say that they won’t listen when you step out the front door.
- Appropriate training equipment is essential. Well made equipment is better for you and your dog. You can choose between training halters, flat collars, martingale collars and balance harnesses. Talk to your trainer about what is best for you and your dog and the style of training you are doing. I love Black Dog equipment – you can check them out here http://www.blackdog.net.au. An Australian company making high quality dog equipment.
- Having clear expectations and boundaries for your walk before you leave the house is important. Know what the rules are before you put the leash on your dog. (ie: No weaving, no rushing other dogs, no dragging you across the road to say hi to the other dog).. It is hard to teach your dog what you expect if you do not know yourself.
- Also, please don’t expect loose leash walking to happen all at once. Remember when you taught your dog to sit? Start small and with little to no distraction and build your way up to longer walks and higher distraction
Walking nicely on a lead is about mutual respect, this aspect reflects on the relationship between you and your dog. If you ever feel like you are being walked by your dog, rather than going out for a walk together, a change in mindset can often help. A walk is something that you and your dog can do together and is an opportunity to enhance the bond between you and your canine companion.
Another thing to consider; dogs have 4 legs. They naturally walk faster than most humans, so of course they are probably going to move faster than us, this is where mutual respect is so important, your dog has to be willing to wait for us slow two legged creatures that they are attached to, and, we have to be willing to enrich their walks in other ways than increased pace.
And, thoughts are great, but practical is always better, so here are some tips.
- Leash training starts in the home and as you walk out your door.
- If your dog is dragging you out the front door STOP, and practise walking nicely to the front door, then progress to the front yard, and then when you have got that, progress a little further.
- Be exciting. Think of why your dog is pulling. Is it because the world is WAY more exciting than you?
- Talk and interact happily with your dog, praise and reward excitedly when your dog chooses to check in with you by making eye contact.(I believe that this should be something your dog chooses to do naturally, and not something that should be taught to happen on command – yes, controversial, I know) You should be proud when your dog is making a choice to connect with you. Eye contact is important across the species divide.
- Shorten your lead. If your pooch is pulling you down the street, you will be amazed what a difference a short lead can make. As they start to walk calmly, let the lead get longer. Out in front is not a problem in my opinion, but you will have more control if you start with a shorter lead.
- Be consistent. Understand what your goals are for your walks before you go on them. Your dog will understand much better if you have clear goals in mind and a training plan for the walk.
- You may be walking your dog to help dispel some of their energy. Active training requires mental and physical energy, so you may not get as far as usual on your walks, but if you are communicating clearly with your dog the whole time then your dog should be happily tired on your return home.
I hope these tips can be of some help to you all struggling with walking your dogs, and remember, if you need some 1:1 help, Formal Dogs trainers are available to come to you and show you some skills to get you and your canine companion walking together as a team. You can get in touch by clicking here.