It’s easiest to teach good manners, including walking on leash, when your pup is a youngster. However, many people never taught their dog, or adopted an adult dog who came with some bad habits already in place.
No worries, we’ll have your dog walking politely in no time. Here’s what you need to know:
- Dogs do what works for them. If pulling you down the street works for the dog, he’ll keep doing it. Not because he’s stubborn or ornery, but because, simply, it works.
- Dogs need to be taught how to walk nicely on a leash. They aren’t born knowing how to walk without pulling.
- Like most things in life, quick fixes aren’t really quick and they aren’t really fixes.
- Loose leash walking is just another trick to teach your dog. It’s not complicated. It’s not hard. And it’s definitley not a “serious” behavior. [Many people think their dog should heel, and say the word very seriously and expect immediate compliance, perfection from the dog — most people (and dogs!) wind up hating the heel precisely because it’s (1) an unreasonable goal and (2) because it’s no fun for the dog or the person.]
Knowing those things, here’s how Smart Dog U does loose leash walking. You’ll start in a very boring location (inside your house, preferably) with your dog on a leash, and with delicious pea-sized treats in your pocket (or in a treat pouch). [Yes, the video was shot in a park. Not the ideal location to teach loose leash walking — there were lots of distractions. Teaching your dog in a boring location is much faster.]
Find something to click. Start out facing your dog (you’re standing) and click (and treat) the dog five times in a row — for nothing. Just click, then feed; click then feed; click then feed, five times in a row.
Raise the bar a bit and get some movement going. As soon as you’ve clicked five times, take onestep backward. Yep, you’re walking backwards to start this exercise. Don’t worry, you’ll be facing forward in no time. Click your dog as soon as he moves toward you. Take another step backward as soon as you’ve fed your dog. Click again as soon as he moves toward you. Your goal for this step is that your dog “fills the gap” as soon as you move backward.
Add another step. Now that your dog has aced the whole “one step backward” task, it’s time to add another step backward before he earns the click. Take two steps backward and click when the dog moves to fill the space. Your goal is to have the dog hurry forward with you to fill the space.
This is starting to sound familiar: add another step. Now that your dog is sticking to you like glue when you take two steps backward, add a third step before you click. Your goal is to have the dog forward with you to fill the space.
Big changes at this step. You’re now going to walk forward! Like a normal person! Yay! It’s really easy — after your third step backward (see Step 4), just turn around and walk forward. Click and treat the instant you turn forward.
Lather, rinse, repeat. You remember how you clicked and treated every step when you were walking backward? You’re going to do the same thing now that you’re walking forward: click every step forward you take.
Practice. Really, practice. Every day. Several times a day, if you can. The next video installment will have the next steps. But you won’t be ready for those steps unless you practice these steps with your dog.
Throughout this article, I mention “click.” Know that every time you click, you’ll also treat. No matter what. Also, it’s not imperative that you click; you can certainly teach your dog to walk politely without the clicker. The clicker, however, will really speed the process up and make it much easier for your dog to understand precisely what you want.