Leash Manners

Walking in partnership with your dog.
This is an excellent way to describe the paradigm of leash walking. Many times it is a question of doing the appropriate dance steps in concert with the dog. IE: Are you walking fast enough; are you “working the dog” so the dog is attentive? Are you getting tangled up? As in any dog training context the dog walk is full of distractions, hence why it is many times a challenge.
 
How do you get a dog to stop pulling on leash, can it be done?
Yes and no. I often counsel people about leash manners and let them know “All dogs pull and dogs pull all the time”. When dogs are on the leash they are prevented from checking out the world at their own pace. Remember dogs are genetically predisposed to investigate things. This need to check things out is especially true of doggie smells and other dogs.                              
 
1 – Pulling equals stopping. If the dog is out of control pulling at the end of the leash, just stop. Stand still; gently shorten the leash a bit. As soon as the dog looks back or up at you, or sits as long as the leash is slack allow movement forward. I say forward because many dogs that pull will move in any manner of direction to expend energy. Make sure you are rewarding the leash manners you want! This movement forward in a calm manner is the reward. A dog getting to go check out that smell is a happy dog and in time will equate pulling to stopping and settling down means getting to go on with the walk. (You define your criteria for calm, as all dogs are different)  
If your dog is pulling towards people to greet whether they have a dog friend or it is just some people your pooch is friendly with – stop! Ask the dog for a sit or a look or a touch by sticking your hand out as a target. When your dog does the thing you ask, allow it to greet. Use what the dog wants as a reward; it is pulling towards something, so use it to your advantage.
 
2- Many times after a dog has sufficiently sent and received pee mails and so forth the dog relaxes and is consequently walking rather nicely. If the dog is a bit out front on a loose lead call its name and position yourself so the dog is beside you, then treat, let him know you’ve got some goodies. Count 6 steps and feed. Repeat for a block or two. Do this each time during the middle part of the walk when your dog is more relaxed. When your dog starts to turn his on step 5/6 move to 8 steps once they get that sequence move to 10 steps then make it random. This feeding for staying next to you increases the behavior of walking next to you.
Use a portion of your dogs’ mealtime kibble or some special goodies to really make a strong positive association to lose leash walking.
 
3- Pay for “check ins” When your dog looks back and gives you attention a walk mark it with a marker word such as YES and pay. This increases the probability that your dog will check in, i.e.: look back and the leash goes slack. Also any time you need your dogs’ attention use “looks” “leave it” and “touch” with a hand held out as a target. Mark and pay for these. These attention getters can get you out of jams and refocus your dog!
 
Do you incorporate heeling?
By all means! I believe heal training began with the military and soldiers carrying a gun on one side, so the dog had to be on the opposite side and in times of military formation there had to be no straying from the handler’s side. However companion canines are not in the military. The primary job of dogs on a walk is to fulfill their olfactory senses, so sniffing on a walk is essential. 
When there are crowds of people or perhaps a jogger coming towards you or you need to get home for an important call, these are all examples of times to use the heal position. Any time you need your dog to be by your side for courteous owner behavior, safety or expediting the walk you can use heel.
 
Is Loose Leash Walking attainable for most dogs?
Yes, dog training is a mechanical skill based on timing and recognizing your dogs’ behavior.
 
Or is the concept too esoteric?
Not at all, loose leash walking or heal is just another behavior you may need along the way as a dog owner. It all depends on criteria and context.
 
What about those dogs that simply stay by their owner’s side even without a leash?
 Lucky you! If you have a dog that stays by your side and is happy go lucky about the affair you are blessed. The amount of dog owners dealing with leash manners issues is incalculable! So enjoy it.

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