Dog Training Loose-Leash Walking

Dog Training Santa Cruz

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  The unnatural walk for dogs

  Dogs weren’t born to walk with collars and leashes around their necks. If dogs were they would’ve been born with them. It’s somewhat a cliché but non-the-less true. It’s so unnatural it’s amazing how they’re able to adapt over-time.  That’s how resilient the species is. However, Loose-Leash Walking is nothing more than training dogs to stay close as we walk together. When putting a collar and leash on a puppy for the first walk the puppy instinctively rejects it. That’s nature telling them something isn’t right. Our culture in many ways restricts the natural behavior and movement of dogs. Unfortunately,  it’s necessary for their safety and humans.

  As mentioned earlier collars and leashes go against dogs instincts. Training for Loose-leash Walking must be taught early. If not their instincts will kick-in automatically. Pulling the owner is only the result of their instinct. When outside nature tells them to explore, sniff every scent around, run and meet every dog or person, run after different animals, not feel restricted by a leash, etc.  Dog trainers like to mention Opposition Reflex being the culprit for pulling. It’s a reflex to push against any pressure sensation around the chest or neck areas. In this case the pressure comes from collars and any harness pressing against the chest area. In essence the pressure is self-inducing when they pull. Dogs don’t really care who is on the other end of the leash. Dogs just need to go and fast. If humans could keep up I’m sure they would be invited to tag along.wonder_walkers1

  Loose-Leash Walking Solutions

  With Loose-Leash Walking your dog can be walking in front of you, behind you, or along side of you. As long as there’s slack in the lead. Use the green light / red light method. The concept is easy. This can be used  for light to heavy pullers.

  Start walking and once the lead starts to tighten stop. Your dog will look back puzzled. Once your dog gives any slack on the lead start moving forward again. Once he tightens lead again immediately stop. When there’s slack again continue forward. The green light/ red light exercise is very simple. Moving in the direction the dog wants to go is a strong reinforcer. So hopefully your dog will quickly learn loosening the lead is what gets him moving forward again.

  Sometimes it’s a good idea to indicate to your dog what you want. Use this modification with the green light/red light exercise. You will be using verbal cues and some prompts.

  Start walking and when leash starts to tighten stop. If your dog knows how to look at you on cue use it. Say, “Look it”. You can then say, “Right here” while tapping your leg or stomach. I also like to snap my finger and point down to my side. Once your dog moves in next to you say “Good” and then say “Lets go” while snapping your finger or tapping your leg. Continue to move forward.  Keep moving forward until you begin to feel leash  tighten again. You then will repeat this procedure.

  When moving forward and giving cues you’ll want your dog to start glancing at you.  It’s a good idea to make yourself either predictable or unpredictable to your dog. It’s beneficial to always have your dog guessing what your next move is. Dogs are always anticipating future events happening. So you can utilize this behavior to you benefit.  When your dog starts to focus on you that will help block out strong intentions to pull towards something else.

  Try This Sequenceimages

  Start Walking and once lead starts to tighten instead of stopping pivot to your right. That will cause your dog to turn with you on your left rear side. You will then say “Right Here” while snapping finger down to your left side and slapping your left leg.  You’ll then say,”Lets Go” and continue walking forward.  He’ll probably walk next to you for a short while before moving on ahead again. Eventually your dog may tighten the lead again. If that happens repeat this procedure again.

  When pivoting to the  right owners can give the lead a little jerk to add a little emphasis on your expectations for your dog. This will get his attention even more. Owners may have to repeat this exercise several times before their dog finally realizes what’s expected of him. In the mean-time owners are making themselves unpredictable. The dog will start to glance back more and more to see what’s happening behind him. Once your dog starts glancing back you can start directing him. Even if your dog isn’t pulling on the lead at that time. Controlling your dog is your main goal. When your dog glances back call him to you using cues and prompts.  Ask that he walk close to you still using cues and prompts. Don’t forget to pivot to your right if you need to.

  These exercises should be practiced in low distraction areas. It’s helpful to train on a dead-in street, an empty field, or an empty school yard. You’ll want some space to maneuver around. When using the Pivot  exercise you may have to make consecutive  turns in the beginning. You may have to pivot and then immediately pivot again making a 180 degree turn. Depending on your dog you might have to make consecutive pivots making a 360 degree turn. But don’t worry your hard work will pay off.

  After the pivot and your dog catches up feel free to reinforce with a praise and treat. Anytime your dog glances back reinforce with praise and a treat. If you consistently repeat these exercises problems with Loose-Leash Walking will be a thing of the past.

  There are different anti-pulling tools now available to dog owners.  Some are Halters that are called “Gentle Leader” and “Halti”.  Halters control the head of a dog.  With the Halters dogs no longer have anything to pull into in regards to Opposition Reflex. They also help with lunging problems.  There’s also anti-pull Harnesses that may work for your dog.  Both Halters and Harnesses can be used in conjunction with training for Loose-Leash Walking.    Happy Training.

  Giovannas Dog Training provides Private Dog Training, Group Dog Training, Private Puppy Training, and Group Puppy Training. Happy Training.



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