As you all know, I work with my friend Suzanne Dean, The Dog Training Lady, to bring my readers behavior and training posts.
This month, we thought a great topic would be Leash Walking. So many dog owners want to take nice blissful walks with their dogs, but instead end up being dragged down the street. Today Suzanne will share with us some of her suggestions for having more pleasant walks with your pup.
Loose Leash Walking – It’s time to take control!
As a dog trainer this is a question I get a lot. How to I get my dog to not pull me down the road, when we’re on a walk?
First of all you need to be the one in control, I know easier said then done.
This control needs starts at the front door.
Is this your typical scenario? You pick up the leash and you dog’s energy level just went from a 0 to a 10 in lest than one second. Your apprehension is up, because your thinking is my shoulder going to remain in the socket on this walk. He’s jumping and running, all excited because he knows what that leash means to him. He’s going outside where there is new and exciting smells and all new things to see.
Let’s first start with something I call “desensitization”. The way to accomplish this is to pick up the dog leash, your dog is getting excited, and he’s seen the leash. Place the leash down on the table or counter and walk away. Your dog calms down. Do this again, pick up the leash, and place it down somewhere else. The same thing has happens, your dog got all excited until you put the leash down. This is the part of desensitizing him when you pick up his leash. What I mean by that is, you are now making your dog understand that just because you picked up the leash it doesn’t always mean a walk. This could take a week of you moving the leash, picking it up, and placing it down in different places, before you dog becomes desensitized to his leash. This will definitely help him to be calm when you pick up the leash.
Now of course one of the times you do pick up the leash it does mean a walk, depending on your dog they need at least one walk a day and so do we humans.
One note I would like to make here, if you have an extreme puller. I highly recommend that you get a harness and not use a regular buckle collar. The buckle collar can cause a lot of internal damage to your dog’s throat. If your dog pulls so hard that he starts with that cough type sound, you must get a harness. Even small dogs can hurt themselves if they pull a lot.
I always recommend the Gentle Leader Head Collar: it will help to stop pulling, lunging, jumping, and unwanted behavior. It comes with a DVD to explain how to use and how to get your dog adjusted to wearing it. It will take time, but it sure saved me from a lot of scrapped up knees from getting pulled down the road and talking a spill.
When it is time for that walk, it has to start at the front door. Ask for a sit while you attach the leash to his collar. Slowly open the front door, if you see him ready to bolt, stop and close the door and ask him to sit again. This will help him to understand that you are in control. Keep in mind that you also need to remain calm and not feel anxious because you feel he is going to run out that door. Dogs sense your emotions and will feed on that energy. Once he calm down, let’s try it again. I understand this is repetitive, but it is necessary to get the desired effect.
Okay, one more time, try opening the door and you should see a slight difference at this point, because now he is beginning to understand that door may close if he is not calm. Remember, this may take several attempts. Training a dog for any behavior modification takes time and patience.
Hurrah, we got out of the front door. Stop ask for a sit, this is to help you stay in control. Slowly begin to walk down your driveway, if he is not pulling continue on. The minute he starts to pull, turn around, and walk in the opposite direction. This again is showing you are in control of the walk not him.
Now when I first started this when mine where pups, my neighbors must have thought I was a little loose in the head. I think it took me twenty minutes of walking the same 10 feet in the front of my home, because every time I felt a pull I would turn and walk in the opposite direction. It will take a while and it will take practice, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly your dog will begin to understand just who the leader is. Remember, you control the walk.
Do allow your dog to sniff and explore, as this is a treat for him as well as exercise, as long as he is not pulling this behavior is okay. His nose is just taking in all the new scents outside and telling him exactly what has been out here and what has been going on. It is kind of like when you talk to your neighbor about what’s new. Your dog gets this same information from his nose.
I also have a quick free video for you to watch from one of my affiliates “Doggy Dan” he has many videos available and this one is specifically for loose leash walking.
I hope you enjoy it. I you have any questions “ask away”. I will be happy to help.
This is what you will achieve with patience and perseverance.
Until next time
Suzanne Dean, ABCDT
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I would like to thank Rachel for allowing me to guest blog, and my thoughts go out to Rooney for a positive and speedy recovery.
Thanks as always to Suzanne, who spends so much time research and planning for these post. Please check out her books and please let us know below if you would be interested in having an “Ask the Trainer” section on my blog.
Also, quick Rooney update: he is doing well, his mobility is good right now and energy is great. We have a recheck tomorrow and we will know more at that time.
Have a great day everyone!