After a long winter we are all ready to head outside and enjoy some nice weather…including our furry friends! Just imagine, your dog happily walking
alongside you as you both take in the sunshine together. The reality may be far different as your dog is actually taking you for a walk! Now’s the time to brush up on your dog’s loose leash walking so that everyone can enjoy some much needed time outside.
We want to be prepared to make our training positive and fun. In addition to an appropriately sized collar and sturdy leash, you may want to use some other training tools. Many people have had a lot of success with using a “Gentle Leader” or an “Easy Walk”. As with all training tools your dog must first get accustomed to wearing them. You can do this by putting the equipment on when you are cuddling your dog in the house, feeding your dog a meal, or throwing a ball outside in your fenced yard. We recommend use a motivator such as a treat or toy to reward good behavior.
Now to start! In a quiet area practice using a treat to lure your dog to stand on your left side with their collar lined up with your leg. Be sure that your leash is loose this entire time. The treat is the guide, not the leash. While luring your dog, you can tell your dog “Heel” or “With me” or whatever you decide you want to call walking by your side. After your dog stands next to you when you give the command, you are ready for movement.
Take just a couple steps and reward your dog while you are moving and your dog is walking calmly next to you. If your dog forges ahead, immediately change direction and give a tug on the leash toward your leg. As soon as your dog comes back to you, reward your dog with a treat and say “Good dog!”
The more you are interacting with your dog, the easier it will be for your dog to maintain their focus on you. Do multiple short training sessions throughout the day, increasing in distance and distractions until you are ready for a nice walk!
This article was brought to you by Jennifer Varick Lutes, Associate Director, 4 Paws For Ability