Take treats on the walk and use a verbal marker like “yes” or your clicker as an audible event marker.
Mark desirable behaviour by using your marker “yes” or click once (as the behaviour is occurring) and immediately feed your dog a treat.
Use a high rate of reinforcement. Click and treat anytime your dog is walking on a loose leash / in the reward zone. Feed the treat on the ground and slowly keep walking. The more you positively reinforce the behaviour of walking in the reward zone the more your dog will choose to walk there.
To have successful and reliable loose leash walking with your dog it will take consistency, patience and positivity. Here are some foundation behaviours to train for lovely loose leash walking:
- Focus / look at me
- Lets go
- Walking close to me / in the reward zone
- Leave it
- Auto sit
- Calm focus around distractions and in different environments
This is the foundation. The next step is to help your dog be able to do these behaviours around distractions and in different environments.
Your dog being calm and confident out and about is a big part of successful loose leash walking as well. If your dog is nervous, fearful or perhaps lacking some self control. I suggest finding a professional dog trainer that uses positive reinforcement to help you and your dog achieve your goals together. The time you invest into training now will pay off throughout your entire life with your dog. Pulling on leash can be so unpleasant and teaching your dog to walk nicely on leash makes your walks so much easier and more enjoyable.
You can find a list of professional dog trainers around NZ here.
Have fun practising. Remember to break down your goal behaviour - loose leash walking - into small, easy to achieve steps for your dog.
Article written by Samantha Jackson from Howlistic Help.