behaviour tips for dogs

Leash Walking

Leash walking can take a while to work on, and requires a lot of patience and proper training. It’s best to teach proper leash walking techniques inside the home first with low distraction, before working down the street or in different environments.

 

  • It is best to make sure you practice obedience cues inside the home, while then applying them with the dog on leash walking around the home. If you wait to teach a dog proper leash walking techniques while you are outside in a distracting environment, it would be like teaching someone how to drive for the first time while starting them on the highway. Start with low distractions first, while then moving up to harder things.

  • Really work on cues like ‘come’, ‘touch’, and ‘look’. These cues will help encourage your dog to come back to you and focus on you and your next direction. Practice strengthening these cues inside first, before applying them outdoors.

  • Work on different techniques for loose leash walking, like taking a step away from your dog indoors (with them on leash) and rewarding them for following you. You can even do direction changes as well, or the stop and go method. Please see these diagrams for techniques you can try.

    Part 1: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lilita/6881499446

    Part 2: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lilita/7793628388

  • Please also see these links for more tips on leash walking:

    Loose Leash Walking

    Loose Leash Walking for Dogs That Are Strong Pullers

    Change Your Direction Method

    Leash Walking Playlist

  • Once the dog has a solid understanding of obedience cues and leash walking techniques, start practicing in your backyard, and then in your front yard/driveway.

  • Use regular treats or kibble when working indoors, and save high value treats when working outside, to help ensure your dog is focused on you and not too focused on the environment. You can also use sniffing as a reward. If your dog is walking nicely and responding well to your direction, tell them to ‘go sniff’ so they have the option to have some freedom and sniff the environment more (which is the ultimate reward for them!).

  • Only if your dog is listening well outside your home, should you then start making your way down the street while reinforcing cues and only allowing them to walk if they aren’t pulling. You may only get a few feet from your house in the beginning, but that’s okay! It takes time and patience and you need to take it day by day.

  • Certain equipment like harnesses and head collars can be helpful, but you should never rely just on equipment. Ensuring a dog is successful requires teaching the dog. Proper tools in combination with training will yield the best results. Please see this link for recommended collars and harnesses.