Leash Manners – Day 2

Here is the first technique I learned for managing a dog that pulls on his leash.  I used a flat collar and a 6-foot leash (not a retractable).  I would start walking and the dog would walk/race ahead of me.  The technique is to stop – completely.  No leaning into the dog, no more following the dog, no calling the dog – just stop.  The dog will stop, at least turn his head to see what the problem might be, at this point I would call the dog back to me.  As soon as he began to return I would click but reserve the reward for when was all the back to me.  So, walk, pull, stop, recall (click/reward), walk, etc. etc.  For some some dogs this process repeated a few times is sufficient for them to get the idea that they don’t get to go anywhere if they pull on the leash.  But, I can attest to the fact that after repeating the process even 3-4 times it becomes  a tedious process for the owner/trainer and a very slow walk.  The training times have to be kept quite short to be effective and this is a process that is best used as leash introduction for a puppy.  With puppies you can make the process fun and you get the added benefit of teaching the recall at the same time. It is less successful for a dog that has been a champion puller for a number of years. Teaching two things at once can be particularly challenging and the dog may focus on the recall because that is when the reward comes into play.  You can get around this issue by keeping a reward in the hand on the side where the dog is walking, clicking at random times, 2 steps, 4 steps, etc. and rewarding while he is still beside you to reinforce the well-behaved walking behavior.  Now the process is walk, pull, stop, recall (click) walk, reward randomly while the dog remains at your side.  It is a subtle difference but makes a distinct and important difference for the dog.

Let me clarify the difference between ‘healing’ and ‘loose-leash’ walking.  Healing is a specific term for specific placement of the dog next to the owner used for the show ring.  Loose leash walking is where there is no pulling and the dog is comfortably walking at your side.  If the dog needs to be brought in closer to you to pass someone on the sidewalk or other situation where you want more control, just pull the leash in closer to your own body.  The dog will follow.  When I explain the difference to my own clients they agree that the behavior they want is a lovely walk with their pooch at their side.

Talk at you tomorrow!

Leave a reply