Today’s topic is: What to do with dogs that are bad on leash. So practically every family that I meet has issues with their dogs on the walk. It’s a very common issue. But the good thing is, for the vast majority of dogs, they can learn how to walk in a much more manageable way, and it can be delightful to do. Now, let me share just a little bit of background. The very first dog that I trained was my dog, Jasmine. She was a German Shepherd. A fantastic dog, but I didn’t know what I was doing when I first got that dog.
I did start going to dog training schools immediately to learn how to train my dog. But even then, it was a challenge for me. I wanted to share with you all that it probably took me the better part of seven years before I could walk her on a loose leash with distractions around. She walked beautifully off-leash and she wouldn’t run away from me. But the leash walking didn’t look that good. She started to become inattentive.
Now, fast forward to today; I’m looking at the two puppies I have right now, Jericho and Alpha. Which, by the way, both of these are German Shepherd dogs. I’ve already got these two very young dogs walking on a loose leash for the most part. There are still a few distractions getting to them, but it won’t be long before I’ve worked through that.
So here are some tips that I want to share with you on what you can start doing today if your dog is not doing that well on a walk. And especially if you’re avoiding walking with your dog altogether.
Pressure On, Pressure Off
So for those of you that are avoiding walks altogether, what I want you to do is put a leash on your dog right now. Yes. Grab the leash right now and put it on your dog. And then what I want you to do is I want you to learn this straightforward principle about how leash pressure works. Here it is. You turn the pressure on, get the dog to do precisely what you want them to do, and then turn the pressure off. So the shorthand version of that is pressure on, behavior, pressure off.
Now, please do this inside of your house. It’s very likely that if your dog has been wrong on walks and you grab the leash and put the collar on your dog, it’s going to get excited. Be silent. Do not say anything to your dog. Not their name or “no.” Don’t say anything at all to your dog. I want you to put some leash pressure on the dog and put the dog in heel position.
What Is Heel Position?
The heel position is your dog on the left-hand side of your body, and you are facing forward. Your dog is facing forward, but they’re on the left-hand side of your body, and their toes should not be past the heel of your left foot. So if there’s a leash on them and a collar on them, move the dog into that position using the leash.
Use no words. And then, when the dog is in that position, relax the leash and pet your dog in the calmest manner that you’ve ever petted them before. If they break position, when you do that, retighten the leash, put them back into heel position. And then, after 5-10 seconds, start calmly petting them again without any praise whatsoever and without any words. Don’t worry; you’re going to be able to start talking to them soon after you are done.
Repeat about 5-10 of these. Then it may be a good idea to bring out a treat. You can proactively put some treats in your left-hand pocket or a treat pouch if you want. If you don’t have them, head to the refrigerator, grab some sandwich meat or a hot dog. Grab something that you know that your carnivorous dog will like. Put them back in the heel position without any words. Once they’re there, please give them a bite of whatever snack you have for them and begin to pet your dog again.
Once you can do this without talking to your dog. And I mean, do this like 20 times in a row. Then you should begin to start calmly praising your dog just by saying, “good dog” or “good boy” or “good girl.”
Okay, that’s the first tip on what to do with dogs that are bad on the leash. There is much more I’d like to share, so there will be a part 2 coming tomorrow.