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Walkin’ The Dog Training Tips: The Leash

For any dog family living in a community with leash ordinances, walking the dog on leash is a must. So, let’s talk about your choice of collar and leash for walk training. As hilarious as our feature photo is (one of the “Incredible Things” you can find here.)  it brings to mind the need to consider what is fun versus what is effective. A training tip that may surprise you:

[notice ]Keep the same length of leash at all times. Keep your dog from pulling on his leash, by teaching that he only has a certain length of leash available and that you’re in control of it. This means no retractable leash in the teaching phase, which would be giving him a longer leash anytime he wants it. Retractables can come later, once your dog is accustomed to not dragging you behind him.[/notice]

This is also often referred to as walking the dog “loose leash” or “slack leash”.  A key part of teaching your dog, at any stage of their learning; is to not reward bad, or unwanted behavior. Allowing the dog to pull you, or cause you to walk more quickly behind him is unwanted- and in itself a reward. Dog is rewarded by getting to whatever it is they were so eager to get to, for the 2 seconds before they move on to the next thing to pull you to. So, don’t reward = don’t move. Don’t move until that leash is slack, and attention is back in your control.  This may make for a lot of ‘standings’ rather than ‘walkings’ at first. Hold your ground, and be ready to praise and move on when you’ve reached that golden moment to reassure your dog they’ve hit the response you are waiting for.

There are varied opinions on this next tip, and it may be up to you and a trusted vet to decide what’s best for your dog(s). General training advice is generated for non-aggressive situations. Think: new puppies or new-to-your-family dogs. Aggression and dominance issues may have you in a different ballpark, and we advise you consult a professional trainer, breeder or vet.

[notice ]Eliminate choke chains and prong collars. Devices that cause pain, such as choke chains and prong collars, have no place in non-aggressive dog basic training. Keep the atmosphere positive, friendly and pain-free. We want our dog to want to be with us so we’ll give clear boundaries and constant praise and reward for the desired behavior. Use a flat, well fitted collar, paired with a 4 to 6 foot leash. *That is not made of sausage.[/notice]

Be consistent, Educate and Reinforce. 
For a last tip, although it has nothing to do with the leash itself: Praise. My dog-loving opinion is that now is not the time to be stingy with the treats! Have that treat bag at the ready with tasty biscuit bits, or small soft treats and prep yourself with with vocabulary that you want to get your pooch accustomed to.  “Close”, “Slow”, “Quick”, “Heel”. These will help keep your reward communications clear. “Good Boy”s are great – but does your dog understand what he did to earn it?  Being consistent and positive may in some sessions equate to a ‘dinner on the go’ quantity of  rewards.  Consider having the BIG reward at the end of a walk too: a dose of super-playtime, or a stop at the dog park, or favorite toy time before walking back home.

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