Are you concerned about your dog’s behaviour or do you have any questions about training? Dog training and behaviour consultant, SADIE BRUNSKILL, of Ulverston, is a member of the Pet Professional Guild and promotes force-free training
IN this second part of a two-part series on training your dog to walk nicely on a loose lead, I will explain how to use environmental rewards to train and maintain a loose lead walking behaviour that makes walking the dog a relaxed and pleasurable experience for both you and him.
Your dog should have a comfortable, well fitted body harness that does not tighten and preferably has a clip at the dog’s chest as well as at the back. It also helps to use a fixed-length or double ended lead for this training.
I also explained how to teach your dog to leave the house in a calm and controlled way and wait for you to lock up before you give the “let’s go” cue.
When you need to take your dog out for their daily exercise and do not have time for formal training, make it clear to him (by attaching his lead to the back clip on the harness) it is OK to sniff and explore about a little. My rules for this type of walking are that they can sniff around and go to the end of the lead, but not pull any further, and they cannot go across me and trip me up with the lead.
The way you train this is by stopping when they cross in front of you or the lead gets too tight that you are about to be tugged along. Try to stop before he gets to the target he is pulling towards, otherwise the pulling will be rewarded. Call him back and set off again when the lead becomes slack, rewarding after a few steps with a loose lead.
When you do have time to do some training, attach the lead to the front clip or use the double-ended lead on both contact points – front and back.
It will be difficult for you to match the reinforcement that they get from those first few steps outside and all of the interesting sights, sounds and smells so you need to use really high-value treats again. I mix a few of these training goodies in with one of their daily meal portions and practice at tea time usually, instead of just putting it down in a bowl.
Go through the same steps as when you are leaving the house, but instead of giving the “let’s go” cue (for when the lead is on the back clip only), choose another one. For example “heel”.
Click and treat heavily for attention, eye contact and walking next to you. At the start you really need to be rapidly firing out those treats. Happy training.