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It’s really important to be fully present with your dog when heading out for a training walk. Because these can take a long time to explain and relatively little time to show, I’m sharing some video of my favorite loose-leash walking training techniques. Seattle trainer Grisha Stewart is one of my favorite trainers, and her video, Silky Leash, is where I almost always start with dogs who are strong pullers and have been getting away with such naughties for a long time.
If your dog is distracted by new scents on a walk, this video will show you how to use sniffing as a reward, while also preventing the dog from reinforcing himself for pulling you over to check out a new smell.
About an eon ago when my parents got the family a Boxer puppy, we trained it the way we had been taught with our last dog. Step 1: Practice off leash in a puppy-safe, potty safe area and reward little Bowser for sitting. Step 2: Next, repeat the same process with a lightweight leash attached to her flat collar so she gets used to the feel of the leash.
If you have a puppy who follows nicely by this stage but still balks once she feels pressure on the leash, you can move to Stage 2 of training where you train her that pressure on the leash is ok. Put a tiny bit of pressure on her leash while waving a really tasty treat so she thinks more about the treat than about how the pressure might scare her. If you think you have the most difficult puppy in the world, first off, know that probably 30 of your friends would disagree. Peggy, the 6 month old puppy, demonstrates loose leash walking and the importance of paying attention to her owner when there are distractions. It is this Australian Cattle Dog puppy's first day home and she is learning to come when called and to sit for petting, treats, and toys, even when other dogs are around. You’ve probably heard the talk about how humans with dogs are healthier because they exercise more.
First, it’s important to know that dogs pull on leash because it gets them where they want to go, faster. Before you even start, it’s essential that you choose a specific zone where your dog should walk in relation to you.
At first, I practice this focused heeling through the dog’s entire walk because, at first, many dogs need to be looking at you in order to remain at your side. Most dogs will want to forge or lunge ahead at some point in their walk even if you’re rewarding with treats for heeling politely. Once you’ve stopped, you must wait for Fido to come back and look at you such that the leash is hanging in a loose U.
Some dogs get up quickly as soon as you start walking and you can’t catch up to them to get beside them so that they are in heel position.
Then, once you are beside her, let go of the treat so that she can eat it and get up and walk next to you. In this method, once Fido’s sitting and focused on you, turn around and walk the opposite direction.
In our class, we use all of the attention exercises—various sit exercises, come when called, and a variety of focused walking games, and apply them to everyday situations. Here is a video showing the importance of using movement to guide a dog in the vet hospital, rather than solely pulling on the leash.
As promised, I’m back to share more tips to help in your quest for the Holy Grail of doggy manners: a walk that brings you home with your shoulders intact! Here are a few establishing operations you and your dog should do before leaving for a walk.

While older children may be fine to accompany you on a walk, younger children may need your full attention to keep them safe or may easily be knocked over by a dog-in-training. If you have several dogs, each will need to be taught appropriate leash manners before you begin training them together.
If you have a very high-energy dog, you may want to use other types of play or exercise to drain some excess energy before embarking on your walk. Pulling on a leash is primarily an impulse control issue, and it is always easier to acquire focus in the house and maintain it than it is to get it back once you’ve lost it. I know at least a dozen ways to build new leash walking skills, my choice of which to use in a given situation depends on the dog.
This technique works really well for dogs who are the opposite of pullers — the ones who plant their butts on the ground while outside and refuse to walk.
And if we choose methods that are as crude as dental care in the 16th century, we should realize that some dogs learn no matter what we do to mess them up. Once she follows you 3-6 times, she will most likely start to walk with you as you begin to walk away. Then within a split second of starting the tiny tug, place a yummy treat into your puppy's face. Yet another alternative that trains puppies that the leash pressure is not scary is the leave-it exercise which should be taught after your puppy knows to sit and focus on you well (see section 5.6 in Perfect Puppy in 7 Days for full photo illustrated instructions or watch Creating the Perfect Puppy DVD). A plethora of methods for fixing the Balking Bowser, and for ensuring that any puppy learns to walk willingly on a leash. Yin tells the story of how she secretly trained her father's Cattle Dog puppy Lucy, to be perfect in a week, and how to fix the problem pup in a month.
A number of scientific studies support this statement; however, what those articles fail to mention is that if your dog drags you, lunges, or tangles you in the leash, those walks may not be that fun. As a result, if we want them to walk on loose leash, we need to stop dead in our tracks if they start to pull and only walk forward when they are on a loose leash. I recommend your dog walk by your right or left side with his shoulders even with yours, like your friend or a human companion would.
You probably never thought you needed a lesson in walking but it turns out that most people do. But once Fido can walk at attention for half to an entire block, she will most likely stick by your side even when she’s not looking at you, at least in low distraction walks. That is, your left hand (if she heels on the left) will be holding the treat at her mouth, thus keeping her occupied as you start to walk past her. You may have to lure her when you start to walk in the new direction so that she knows to stay on your left side (if you’ve chosen the left side for heeling).
For more pointers, stay tuned for the blogs on other walking patterns to help teach your dog to stay at your side.
My dog had not been leash trained until he came to me at 17 months and I still can't get him to walk on loose leash.
Great photos, one of the most important aspects I teach clients is in your statement “ If you don’t stop this behavior abruptly or you have the leash in your hand and let your dog pull your arm forward then he instead learns that he can pull a little or pull sometimes” people forget that their arms are long and when they extend them, it teaches your dog to pull. Then we combine all of these exercises with the ones above and that I will cover in parts 2 and 3 (plus a few more) on walks. However, it can be a little tricky getting some puppies to walk on leash, because some puppies get scared as soon as they feel even a slight tug. The puppy screamed like he was about to die while pedestrians peered into our alley as they passed by, surely wondering if we were puppy abusers.

And that is, that even with medieval methods of puppy training, this puppy somehow learned to walk on leash, not because of the method, but in spite if it! A two sentence run down here is that you toss a treat past the end of the leash and when Bowser goes to the end to get the treat, because you stand completely still and do NOT pull her back, she just realizes that the pressure she feels around her neck means she should do something else … something that will cause the pressure to decrease. Our understanding and knowledge, and thus our training and teaching techniques, are always evolving. To improve your dog’s behavior and the enjoyment for both of you, here are a few tips on training your puppy or adult dog to walk at your side.
If we want dogs to follow our lead and stick with us, we have to walk in a manner that makes it clear we know where we’re going.
Then watch his demeanor at that pace and compare it to his demeanor, attention and focus when you walk more slowly.
At that point, your dog can be allowed to walk at your side without needing to look at you; however, still only reward him when he heels at attention. When Fido gets even one paw ahead of your foot, just stop within a split second so that, by the time he gets to the end of the leash, you’re stationary.
I get frustrated with him on our walks which then turns into guilt on my part for not remaining calm.
If he had been even a mildly sensitive puppy—you know the kind that grows up caring what people think instead of the type that hurls himself at sliding glass doors to get to the toy outside in spite of your shouts to come to you—he could have easily learned to be fearful of the leash! So, you can walk but with quick little steps so it looks like you are sprinting to get her to follow after you. Sometimes you should wait for her to sit and look at you for 2 seconds after her last treat before you walk on.
Then use the distraction technique only when you need it, until sitting and waiting for you to move up to Fido’s heel position before walking becomes a habit for her. He tends to countersurf only when people are away, or in a different room, even after he's gone through the Learn to Earn program, had thousands of rewards for more appropriate behavior and no opportunity to countersurf for several weeks.
Our insight into the animal’s point of view and awareness of how all our interactions affect them allows us and our pets to have fun and enjoy life together every day. If you don’t stop this behavior abruptly or you have the leash in your hand and let your dog pull your arm forward then he instead learns that he can pull a little or pull sometimes. 5 in Perfect Puppy in 7 Days) and the version of leave-it where we toss treats to the end of the leash (ch 5), then Fido will remember that pulling never works.
This sends him mixed messages and prevents him from learning that walking on loose leash is what works. Yin adds a well-timed booby trap to his training plan and how elaborate the set-up has to be in order to work.
If you approach this systematically, you can progress quickly—within just one to a handful of short sessions in the standard puppy with this type of issue. It’s also one reason I generally recommend a hands-free leash such as the Buddy System. And if you have an energetic Jack Russell Terrier, like my dog, Jonesy, you may have to walk at 130 or 135 bpm to keep him happy so he thinks his walk with you is fun rather than acting like you're his ball and chain.

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