I have already touched upon some common mistakes in lead handling and on some techniques that can help overcome lead pulling. Today I would like to share a more proactive technique that will teach your dog to walk on a lead nicely. You will need a clicker, some nice treats and a lead. Before you can work with loose leash walking, your dog will need to know “touch” (and to be able to follow your hand) and “look at me”.
I am right handed, so I find it easier to have the dog on my right side. If you are left handed, do the opposite.
1. Have your dog on a lead by your right side. Hold a clicker and a lead 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 s “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 can gradually remove your hand.
Be aware of your dogs limitations. Some things are really difficult and require enormous effort to teach. For example, Milo is a beagle, and a beagle’s job is to find a scent trail and to follow it with a howl. I don’t think that I will ever have enough patience and desire to teach him not to pull when he picked up a trail.
Teaching a dog not to pull can be one of the most boring and annoying things you’ll ever do with your dog, but it is worth it. Just think about being able to relax during a walk!