I have already touched upon some common mistakes in leash handling and on some techniques that can help overcome leash pulling. Today I would like to share a more proactive technique that will teach your dog to walk on a leash nicely. You will need a clicker, some nice treats and a leash. Before you can work with loose leash walking, your will have to know “touch” (and to be able to follow your hand) and “look at me”.
1. Have your dog on a lead by your right side. Hold a clicker and a leash in your left hand, opposite to where the dog will walk. You will need your right hand to dispense treats.
2. Start walking. When your dog pulls, stop.
3. Do your attention-getting sound (I use “kissy” sound) to get the dog’s attention.
4. When he looks at you, guide him with your right hand back to your side. You may find that taking a step back with your right foot at the same time helps the dog understand the required position.
5. Once the dog is in the required position, click and treat.
You may not be able to take a single step at first as the dog will instantly start pulling again. Just give it time: after a few sessions. you will notice that you are able to walk a few steps. Sometimes it helps to teach a dog to follow your hand for a couple of steps and reinforce it. After a while you will gradually remove your hand.
Important: don’t bribe and lure your dog into the position by holding treats in your right hand. Have the treats hidden in your pocket until it is time for a reward. Also, be aware of your dogs limitations. Some things are just really difficult and require an enormous effort to teach. For example, Milo is a hound. I don’t think that I will ever have enough patience and desire to teach him not to pull, when he smelled a strong track. After all, that is exactly what he has been bred for: to smell and follow it with an annoying howl (just like he does on this picture taken a few weeks ago in Minley Wood near Ancells Farm in Fleet).
Teaching a dog not to pull can be one of the most boring and annoying things you’ve ever done, but it is worth it. Just think about being able to relax during a walk!