Last week I shared five tips to help improve your dog’s leash manners. As promised, I’m back to share more tips to help in your quest for the Holy Grail of doggy manners: a walk that brings you home with your shoulders intact!
It’s really important to be fully present with your dog when heading out for a training walk. Here are a few establishing operations you and your dog should do before leaving for a walk.
Because these can take a long time to explain and relatively little time to show, I’m sharing some video of my favorite loose-leash walking training techniques. I shared an intro to loose-leash walking last week, and here is part two, which features some tips for reinforcing small dogs; how to hold your leash, clicker, and treats; and introduces Karen Pryor’s “Connect the Dots” exercise.
This is only one of the techniques I use. I know at least a dozen ways to build new leash walking skills, my choice of which to use in a given situation depends on the dog.
Seattle trainer Grisha Stewart is one of my favorite trainers, and her video, Silky Leash, is where I almost always start with dogs who are strong pullers and have been getting away with such naughties for a long time.
Because dogs and humans both have an opposition reflex, they both unconsciously move in ways to resist pressure. It’s the dog-training “Pushmi-Pullyu” effect, and results in a veritable tug-of-war. Silky Leash teaches dogs to yield to pressure and move into pressure on their leashes.
Learn more about Silky Leash in Grisha’s blog. This technique works really well for dogs who are the opposite of pullers — the ones who plant their butts on the ground while outside and refuse to walk.
This may be my favorite method for teaching loose leash walking. It’s especially great for dogs that launch into “auto-scan” mode because it lets the dog focus on the handler.
I have had great success with this technique, and combine it with Silky Leash for later parts of training: The dog approaches the end of the leash, the handler slowly backs away until the dog is moving into the handler’s body, then the handler steps into heel and resumes walking. It’s brilliant! This video came from Helix Fairweather, Karen Pryor Academy faculty member, who is one of the best trainers I know when it comes to breaking behaviors into small, achievable pieces.
Part of the job description for Dog Behavior Nerd Social Networking Addict requires that you are familiar with Emily Larlham’s great training work on YouTube, which offers dozens of great positive reinforcement videos to dog nerds around the world. But perhaps you aren’t like me (yet) –so you’re in for a treat! We’re happy to introduce you to Emily with this great video.
If your dog is distracted by new scents on a walk, this video will show you how to use sniffing as a reward, while also preventing the dog from reinforcing himself for pulling you over to check out a new smell.
I hope these videos will help get you and your dog on the right track. If you have any favorite LLW videos of your own you’d like to share, please do so in the comments. Until then, happy training!