Let’s talk about leash walking. One of the useful things that I’ve been sharing with my clients that seems to be getting them more success more quickly is the following tip. What does your dog see?
When I developed the leash walking technique that I teach people, I wanted to really think about what our dogs are seeing on the walks. Obviously, we’re aware that they can see any distractions. Such as squirrels, birds, dogs, kids, cars, etc. But what is supposed to be the focal point whenever you’re walking the dog? Should it be the dog looking at your face? Should it be the dog looking at your shoulder?
Perhaps if you’re a pet dog owner, a good target for your dog should be your moving legs. When I talk about your moving legs, I’m really talking about your legs moving very quickly.
Let me explain just a couple of things about the way that I’m currently teaching pet dogs to walk on a slack leash. We have a training collar on the dog. It can be a slip leash, a Starmark training collar, or a Herm Sprenger prong collar. What I do is put these pieces of equipment on the dog, and then I evaluate how well they work. I’m making the evaluation based on which is the one that is minimally aversive that will set a good boundary for the dog to stop pulling. Stopping pulling is a very important part of leash walking.
I then put the dog into the heel position, and I generally give the dog about 4-5ft worth of leash. And then once the dog is in position, I quickly take off and let the leash, through the training collar, move the dog with me. As I’m moving along, I am really aware of what the dog is looking at. If the dog looks off to the side or looks behind and it loses sight of my quickly moving legs, I just continue to move forward. Inevitably, what happens is the leash will go tight, the training collar turns on, and then when the dog gets back into the heel position, then the training color will relax.
If the dog happens to get ahead of me, this is where I’m very aware of the dog’s eyes. If it gets ahead of me and the dog can no longer see my legs I immediately turn around quickly away from the dog without saying anything. And then again, what’s going to happen is the training collar will engage when the dog gets to the end of the line. As soon as the dog comes back into the heel position, the training collar will immediately release. The training collar method could be way too much pressure for the dog. So you do need to be careful in the selection of your training collar.
What this lesson will quickly teach many dogs is that keeping an eye on your legs, the thing that’s moving most in the environment, is more important than watching anything else.
When I first teach this technique to a dog I don’t talk for probably 5-15 minutes. I’m really doing that because I want to show my client the importance of non-verbal communication. It helps the dog understand that they should watch us. Once your dog is actually watching you, it is important to talk to them and encourage them. Also, tell them when they’re getting it right.
So if you’re using this method, praise the dog. Then with the softest hands that you possibly can use your leash, get your dog into the heel position, and share a very special moment with your dog. Let them know that you really appreciate them walking nicely together with you.
I hope this one was useful for any of you that are trying to get your dog to walk on a slack leash. Please visit my YouTube Channel for more tips like this or find them right here on my website at www.longoriahausdogtraining.com.
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