The Pause Technique
Leash pulling is often successful for the dog because the person inadvertently reinforces the pulling by allowing the dog to get to where he wants to go when he pulls. To get good leash walking right, you can change this picture by changing the consequence of pulling.
Whenever he pulls, immediately stop until the leash relaxes because your dog either takes a step back or turns around to give you focus. When the leash is nicely relaxed, proceed on your walk. Repeat this as necessary.
This technique will take time and a lot of consistency from you as the owner/walker. It is very important to remember to reward the dog for good behaviour, this reward can be verbal praise, a treat or physical affection.
The Change Direction Technique
If are battling to get a good response from your dog with the pause technique, you can try this.
• When your dog pulls, issue a ‘this way’ cue, turn away from him, and walk off in the other direction without jerking on the leash.
• You can avoid yanking by motivating your dog to follow you with an excited voice to get his attention.
• When he is following you and the leash is relaxed, turn back and continue on your way.
• It may take a few turns, but your vocal cues and body language will make it clear that pulling will not be reinforced with forward movement, whereas walking calmly by your side or even slightly in front of you on a loose leash will allow your dog to get to where he wants to go.
Always remember to reward good behaviour.
Unpredictable is Exciting
Once your dog is listening to you, you can vary the picture even more by becoming unpredictable yourself. This requires your dog to listen to you at all times, because he never knows when you might turn or where you are going to go next.
Instead of turning away from him when you give the ‘this way’ cue, reverse direction by turning toward him. You can turn in a circle or do a figure eight. Any of these variations will get your dog’s attention. Don’t forget to praise him for complying, because the better you make him feel when he is walking close to you, the more he will choose to do so.
The 4 Steps for getting good leash walking nicely by your side.
Rewarding for walking by your side. Is a great way to motivate a dog to walk at heel.
This method works best if your dog is very food motivated.
• Start by holding your dogs lead in the opposite hand that you want to dog to at. I.e. if your dog is going to be walking on your left side, hold the end of the lead in your right hand. Then, with your left hand grab the lead at a point where it is comfortable for you and the dog. I.e. the lead needs to be straight from the left hand to the dog, when it is standing by your side. Not too tight that it’s restricting your dog’s movement though. This is simply to give you control over the dog and keep him close to you.
• With your right hand grab a bunch of treats that you will use as a supply to your left hand. You should be able to grab one at a time from your right to your left as you are walking the dog to reward him.
Now you are ready to start training!
1. With a treat in your left hand, take a few steps forward, if your dog stays by your side concentrating on the treat, left him have it and say good boy. You are basically encouraging him to walk by your side with the promise of a treat. (What you may find happen, is that when your dog gets the treat he will immediately try to move off and pull on the lead, this is when you stop, grab another treat and lure him back into position)
2. As your dog starts to get the idea, you can start taking more steps and keeping him by your side while you grab another treat out of your right hand. You need to remember to try and reward your dog quickly with treats and verbal praise for walking by your side.
3. You need to start this off in a quiet area first where there are very little distractions. Once your dog starts getting the hang of it, you can move to more distracting areas. It is important to remember that if you can’t get your dog to focus on you then the environment you are in is too distracting. You need to move back to a quieter spot.
4. This will take time to master, and it will always need reinforcing, so be patient and calm.