In our third article helping you reform your big-league puller, we’re giving you the next set of steps to follow. We know you’ve been doing your homework in the first and second articles on loose leash walking, which means you and your dog are ready for this next video.
We started by just working on getting the dog to move with us (making it easy by walking backward and rewarding the dog handsomely), then turned to walk forward (still rewarding handsomely), and now we’re adding more to the loose leash walking equation.
More steps. We’re adding even more steps now. If you’ve done your homework in the first two articles, your dog is already good at taking three steps by your side (at which point you then click and treat). Now, start to add some more steps before you reward your dog. I encourage you to talk to your dog — tell him he’s a good dog in a happy voice — to help keep your dog’s attention while you’re getting some more steps between your rewards (clicks and treats). Begin to “yo-yo” the number of steps you ask for. Don’t always keep asking for more steps — that ruins the fun of this loose leash walking game. Yes, keep increasing the average number of steps, but also throw in some gimme’s — say one or two steps, then clicking and treating.
Eye contact. In addition to more steps, we’re now going to reward the dog for checking in. Checking in means glancing in your direction. I don’t want my dog staring at my on his walk, instead I want my dog to enjoy his surroundings.
My goal for walks with my dog: we both enjoy the walk and we both get something out of it.
So for this new goal, you will click any time your dog glances at you. Have your finger on the clicker, ready to click. If you have to fumble for your clicker, you’ll miss the opportunity to reward your dog for that glance. The attention will be brief and quick at first. That’s ok! Remember, you don’t want prolonged eye contact from your dog, it’s enough if he’s just checking in with you from time to time. It doesn’t matter when your dog looks at you or why — reward him everytime he does!
Next, we’ll need to add some distractions to the practice, but it’s imperative that your dog is great at this level (more steps and checking in) before we move along. A strong foundation speeds to process of teaching leash manners.
Smells are a big distraction for my dog. Also, he wants to walk fast! Will that get better with time and practice?
Laurie Luck says
It will get better with practice! Use a VERY delicious treat (leftovers from the 4th of July weekend barbecue like chicken, sausage, steak, etc.). Also, reinforce appropriate behavior FREQUENTLY! Check out our Dog Training 101 and Dog Training 201 articles on the blog — they’re getting you into the nitty gritty of a dog trainer’s mind!