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Al's Dog Training Tips

Freedom On Structured Walks

The topic today is freedom on structured walks. I’ve been sharing quite a bit about structured walks for some time now. And hopefully, most of you have a good idea about how to achieve this. I want to give a brief overview for anybody that’s new and is looking for some tips on how to create a structured walk.

Essentially, when you’re creating a structured walk, there are a few things that you want to make sure that you’re getting right. These affect the walk more than anything else. The first one is that you should be moving with the purpose. The second one is you should keep your leash short enough that your dog can’t overwhelm you by pulling hard. But that’s easy for you to keep putting them back into heel position.

This is a fundamental explanation of how to walk a dog on a slack leash, and it’s not meant to be comprehensive. If you’re looking for more tips, make sure to scan my website to find some of the articles that I’ve shared about how to get your dog to walk on a nice slack leash. Today, however, is about when your dog is walking nicely with you, how to give them more freedom.

Praise and Give Reward

So let me give you this first tip. The first tip is for those dogs that are a novice or maybe even intermediate. As you’re walking along with your dog at somewhere between 50-100 steps into your walk, you should put your dog at heel. Make sure your leash is completely slack, and you should praise and give food rewards to your dog. This is a fantastic way to do it. Now, I’m very particular when I coach people about the mechanism they use to feed the dog. But it might just be enough to get your dog into the heel and then give them food and praise any way that you see fit. That’s a good place to start.

Okay, now let’s say that you’re doing pretty well. You’ve rewarded your dog maybe 4-5 times for moving nicely with you and stopping at heel. Perhaps it’s time to find a fire hydrant or a nice little grassy area to allow your dog to sniff around.

Give Them Freedom

When you give your dog the freedom to sniff around, it might be helpful to have a long leash. You can also do it with a four to six-foot leash, too. And what I want you to do is when you allow them to sniff around, make sure that your leash stays loose the entire time. What that means is if your dog starts getting out of the area that you intended for them, you can use your leash to guide your dog back. But then immediately, you want to go back to slacking your line.

So these two tips, the tips about stopping your dog every 50-100 steps and reinforcing them with food and praise. And then every 4-5 times that your dog is stopped well with you, give them some freedom to sniff around. These are two great ways to give your dog freedom on structured walks.

Recall Training

Now, I do want to mention one last thing. If you’re getting good at that and you started your recall training, you’re taking a rewards-based approach and showing them that turning around is good and coming back is fantastic. Now you can begin to use your long line on your walks. Let’s say that you’ve stopped several times for the dog walking nicely with you. You’ve let your dog sniff around, and mark, well, now let your dog have some more freedom by letting them get out to the end of the long line.

Now the leash should be slack as they’re moving away from you. And when they get to the end of the long line, use your command. I like to use my dog’s name plus the word “come” and then make your dog come back to you and reward them for that. These three things in total, rewarding at heel, letting them sniff around and then letting your dog out but recalling them whenever they get to the end of the line is a fantastic way to give your dog freedom on structured walks.

But remember, the first thing that I said was you want to make sure that the structured part is excellent before you start giving them the freedom that these three things provide.

I hope that one was helpful for you. Remember to visit my YouTube Channel for more helpful videos if you’d like.

Happy Training!

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