Tips for Loose-Leash Walking
Updated: Jan 16, 2021
You must reprimand your dog every time they pull. If they are allowed to pull on some occasions, it will only confuse them. Every time you start your walk, say NAME, HEEL. Heel means be at my side, keep your dog on your left side. Do not keep any tension on your leash, it should have slack at the bottom. Corrections work with slacked leashes.
Training collar, regular collar, leash, and plenty of breakable or small treats.
1. Turns: This is a great exercise to teach your dog to pay attention on leash. Practice this every day when teaching your dog to heel and start in low distraction areas. This can be your whole walk- you do not want to walk in a straight line for 30 minutes as your dog is dragging you forward. They need to learn to pay attention to where you are going. Have your dog on a short leash but leave enough slack that it will be loose if they are in heel position beside you. Start your walk and within 2-5 steps, turn in front of them and quickly change directions in a 180 degree tight turn. Use your leg to bump them out of the way if they are in the way, do not move around your dog, make him move out of the way. Continue walking in the new direction for about 5 steps, quickly turn to the right, the leash should be slacked when your turn so they are making the decision to turn, you’re not dragging them around the turn. If they continue to move forward instead of turning, correct them with the training collar as you are quickly going the opposite direction, reward your dog when they turn with no direction from you. Start to take more steps in between turns and make your turns more random, reward heavily when the dog is beside you and turning with you. When they start pulling or are distracted, repeat the steps above.
2. Off-leash Work: In a fenced in area or inside the house, walk around and ignore your dog. Then, call them while being very excited. When they come to your side, say HEEL and reward them with a small treat. Then continue to walk and talk to the dog in an upbeat voice, encouraging them to stay at your side. Every couple of steps reward the dog with a small treat. After about 10 steps, say “OK or FREE” and go back to ignoring them and let them go back to whatever they were doing. After a few minutes, call them back and repeat the process. By doing this, your dog will soon learn that good things come to them when they are walking with you at your side in a heel.
3. The Backup: This should be done while you are out on a walk. When your dog pulls, they are doing this because they want to move forward. So when your dog starts pulling, you should stop and take several steps backwards. While stepping backwards, call your dog in a happy, excited voice and reward them when they return to your side. Start moving forward again and say HEEL. If your dog continues forward at your side then reward them every 3 to 4 steps with a treat. If they begin to pull forward again, repeat the steps. Your dog will learn that in order to move forward, they must not pull. As your dog gets better at this exercise, increase the number of steps before giving the reward for staying at your side. Once your dog is able to walk politely by your side, continue to reward them with treats but do so randomly to keep them guessing.
4. STOP: When your dog pulls forward, STOP immediately and do not move another inch. When your dog realises they aren't going anywhere and come back to your side, reward them with treats and praise and start to walk forward again in a heel.
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