Leash Walking Woes.
When a dog pulls on leash, it can be very frustrating for both you and your dog. Fortunately, through positive reinforcement techniques, you can teach your dog to want to walk with you!
Dogs will only expend energy if there is a reason to do so. Through pulling, dogs are able to obtain real-life rewards; sniffing bushes, eating food off the ground, greeting people or other dogs, etc. You can use other rewards, like treats, to show him that it is more worthwhile to walk loose-leash than it is to pull. To teach your dog to walk with you, here are some fun leash walking games to practice together:
Start in a non-distracting location such as the house or backyard. When your dog does any of the following, deliver a high-value treat behind your heel or knee in the walk position: 1) responds to an orienting sound (e.g. kissy noise or whistle), 2) releases tension on the leash and/or moves toward you, or 3) follows you as you walk backward.
One of the most important leash games to practice is “Let’s go.” The cue “Let’s go” lets the dog know you are about to change direction. Before or when your dog pulls, say, “Let’s go,” then apply gentle, steady pressure on the leash as you guide him toward you. When your dog gives into the pressure and comes with you, praise him and give a high-value treat.
Through these positive training techniques, your dog will learn that you are more interesting than all other distractions! To master this skill, attend the Leash Walking workshops, or other training classes offered at San Diego Humane Society. You can also call the Behavior Helpline at (619) 299-7012 x2244 to speak directly to an experienced trainer. For more information and tips, visit www.sdhumane.org.