Think your dog can walk politely on a loose leash? Put them to the test!

A desire to teach the family pet to walk politely on a loose leash is one of the most frequently cited reasons pet owners seek the services of a training professional. 

I'll put together a more extensive post on the methods that I like for teaching loose leash walking (hopefully with video) in a future blog entry for DSD.  For the time being, let's talk about putting your dog's loose leash training to the test.

Believe it or not, some students aren't even sure what loose leash walking truly looks like.

A good loose leash will look like the letter "J".  The top part of the letter will be where the leash meets the owner's hand, the bottom starting point of the letter (where you would start writing the letter "from the bottom up") should look like where the leash meets the collar.  I tell my students, "if you couldn't carry a full cup of coffee in your leash hand, the leash is too tight."

Did you ever participate in an egg race when you were a kid?  We do the loose leash walking version in my advanced dog classes.

To test your dog's loose leash walking, grab a wooden spoon and a tennis ball.  Put the tennis ball in the spoon and the spoon in the same hand as your leash, and practice walking!  Practice walking forward, in tight turns, with directional changes and speed changes.  Practice while skipping, jogging, running.  If the ball drops, the leash isn't loose enough!

The loose leash walking "egg race" is a fun way to practice loose leash walking skills, find out where your dog's training may need brushing up, and drives home the concept of exactly what a loose leash truly is and looks like.  Loose leash walking egg races are fun to add into games classes, Canine Good Citizen loose leash walking exercises or rally courses.  Try it with your dog and your class, and report in...can your dog compete in the loose leash walking egg race?  If not, what criteria do you need to brush up on (distractions, turns, duration/distance, speed, etc.)?