Dog - Behavior & Training

Loose Leash Training

Long walks provide physical and mental stimulus, as your dog is able to explore and sniff out new smells while getting some exercise in there too. Sometimes though, it can be hard to say who’s walking whom! Dogs pull on the leash for many reasons, as they do not understand not to pull on the leash. Take the lead with a couple tips to keep everyone walking happy.

There are many different types of equipment recommended for strong pulling dogs; however these are used to manage the behavior until we can show the dog proper leash manners. We recommend the following equipment:

  • Use a front clip harness or a Head Halter (your dog must be conditioned to these first before using them).
  • If your dog has polite behaviors already, you can try a flat buckle collar or body harness.
  • Begin with a six-foot leash made of cotton or nylon.
  • Carry a variety of high value treats and plenty of pea sized yummy treats.
  • You'll need a pouch to hold all the yummy treats.
  • Training treats should be small, easily eaten and exciting for your dog (ones with a strong smell are our favorites).

Basic Pointers

Loose Leash Training

To encourage your dog to walk with you, start out standing still. Take a deep breath and just stand with your dog by your side. With some extra-stinky, high value treats in your left hand, reward your dog when they are close to you with the leash loose. They’ll start to associate a loose leash with getting their favorite snack and will learn that keeping the leash loose pays. When in doubt, stand still until your dog loosens the leash by coming back to you.

Puppy Lessons

A lightweight buckle collar is great for puppies. Start by letting your dog drag the leash around the house for a few minutes to get used to the weight of the clip and leash. Be there to supervise so your dog doesn't get tangled in furniture and get scared.

Then try picking up the end of the leash and follow your puppy around—giving them treats to make it a fun game. Soon they'll be wagging their tail and ready for more. A five-minute session is just the right length of training time per day for a puppy.

Start early and build a good foundation of training.

When you are ready to actually lead your puppy, start with a pocket full of treats and take just a few steps backwards. Encourage them, crouching down if you need to. Stop and reward your dog regularly when they are by your side on a loose leash.

If your dog pulls out in front, just stop until they turn to see why you aren't following. Call your dog to you in a happy voice, praise for coming, and start walking a few steps again. Pretty soon your dog will figure out that lots of treats and praise come when they’re at your side. Practice two-three minutes per day.

Training for Adult Dogs

Consistency is the key. Enrolling in an interactive dog training class will give you a very good place to start, but you must take those lessons home to be truly effective. Just consider it doggie homework!

Keep training sessions upbeat and fun, with lots of rewards and 2-3 minutes long.

Remember that rewarding good behavior always creates better, quicker results than punishment based methods.

Sources:

  • Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor
  • Reaching the Animals Mind by Karen Pryor
  • Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson