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Whether your dog already pulls on the leash during walks, or you have a new puppy who you would like to teach to walk politely before a problem starts, the tips in this blog will help your dog become a great walking companion. The goal is to set your dog up to be able to do something correctly that you can reward him for.
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Training your dog to walk appropriately on a leash can be one of the most frustrating aspects of good dog training, but no one wants to be pushed, pulled or yanked towards other dogs or into traffic (both of these actually happened to me once before I became a dog trainer)!  Simply teaching your dog good leash manners will keep you and your dog safe while you are out walking! Most people try to leash train their dogs on their own, but usually they end up making the problem worse and both dog and owner end up frustrated and confused.  The problem is that they are relying on Choke Chains and Prong Collars, and although these barbaric tools may work in short term owners find out they have absolutely NO control without the collars!
Punishment and pain can also lead to an escalation of bad behavior and in some cases even aggression toward the owner.
Positive reinforcement training is what exotic animal trainers have used for years to teach dolphins, whales and large cats among other animals.  You cannot force a dolphin to do what it does not want to do!
The clicker is a tool, that when conditioned with food, a treat or a toy signals to your dog when he is doing something right.  The clicking sound becomes synonymous with the treat once training has begun.


However, your dog has to be taught that the clicker means something, clicking alone is not reinforcing, you must teach your dog what the clicker means. Leash training, like most dog obedience training is less problematic if we can break it down into straight forward, manageable steps.
Keep your dog inside with you, during the beginning of training to help him be successful (training outside can be distracting), and click and reward every time he chooses to be near you while he wears the collar and leash.  Also click and reward if he looks up at you, this is the foundation to getting his focus! Training outside may be more frustrating because there are numerous distractions for you to compete with for your dog’s attention.  Understand, from his point of view how much more difficult this task has now become, and don’t lose your patience; don’t drag him or allow him to drag you!  Walk slowly and click and treat if he stays at your side, if he begins to pull, stop or change your direction then click and treat when he reaches your side again! Keep training sessions short and FUN!  You can train several times a day, but you don’t want to push you or your dog past the point of fun!  Puppies, especially, have short little attention+ spans and if you insist on puppy training past the point of fun, usually around 5 minutes, your pup may start to dislike, and dread training!
Scheduling multiple training sessions throughout the day will help your dog learn more quickly because dogs like schedules and he will look forward with happy anticipation until you can go out again!
Leash training, like all dog training, requires immense amounts of patience on both your parts!  But, the payoff will be a well-trained dog that all your friends envy, and a relationship of love and trust!  So grab your clicker and a pocket full of treats and get out there!   Have some fun together while learning valuable skills!  When your dog has mastered the leash check out loose leash training! For some dogs that already pull on the leash when walking, this might mean simply not sprinting ahead when you take one step forward.


If your dog needs exercise and is not able to get it in another way, consider purchasing a Sense-ation, Sense-ible, or EZ Walk harness (these all clip in the front instead of the back to prevent pulling) that gently and humanely help prevent most dogs from pulling while walking.  Purchasing a harness may or may not be a permanent solution for your dog depending on your goals for his walking skills, and you will likely want to continue working on rewarding his calm and focused behaviors since these will still be very important with or without the harness in the face of distractions. I believe all dog should be trained well enough to be walked on a buckle collar or harness alone, no dog training collar to over-use or rely on!
Skinner one of the leading researchers on reinforcement found that positive reinforcement is superior to punishment in altering behavior because positive reinforcement results in lasting behavioral modification and punishment changes behavior only temporarily and presents many detrimental side effects. Timing is essential with clicker training you must click at the exact moment the correct behavior is beginning to be performed!  This communicates to your dog what you like and what you want to continue to see!
For others, this might mean you reward for any time he looks at you, or for walking a step forward with you. Try to be more exciting to your dog than all of the other potential distractions (amazing-smelling bushes, other dogs, humans, dirt, grass – the usual).



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