You’re walking your dog and your arm feels like it’s about to pop out of socket. You get jokes from neighbors and passer by about how he is really walking you, not the other way around. You’ve heard it all before as you struggle to get your dog under control while he charges ahead to get wherever he wants to go. Sound like you?
Maybe after dealing with this for some time, you begin to really dread walking your dog. It’s embarrassing when you cannot keep him under control and it’s a real pain, literally, when he jerks your arm around. This leads to other problems as he becomes bored and begins to bottle up energy that he is no longer able to express. Then other problems begin to peak it’s ugly head, including hyperactivity, excessive chewing and more. What if you could just walk your dog as he happily trots next to you on a loose, controlled leash? You can begin to take charge today on your walk.
A plethora of products on the market exist to help end walking instantly, but none of them will live up to their potential if you do not combine them with training. After all, they’re meant to be tools used during training your dog to walk with acceptable manners on leash. One item The NaturalDog suggests is the front clipping harness, as it prevents pulling which create more scenarios in which your dog can be rewarded for not pulling. There are various brands, and any will work just as good as the next. The idea is to remember it is for training, not exercising your dog!
Start training in your home. Attach your dog’s leash to him and have a handful of treats ready to go. If you use a clicker, have that ready to go as well. Walk backwards, facing your dog, and encourage him to follow you. When he catches up to you, mark that behavior with a “Yes!” or a click of your clicker and give him a reward. Do this for about 3 to 5 minutes once or twice a day until he is reliable in easily following you.
You need to take this exercise outdoors to raise the criteria, but stay in a quiet area in the beginning. Just walk backwards and call him to you. Instead of using the same command you use for recall, make sure you have a different one just for getting him to follow you, such as “Follow me!” When you’re doing this outdoors your may want to also increase the value of the treats to hold his attention and encourage him to listen to you instead of being distracted. You want his action of following you to be more reinforcing (with your reward) than anything that could be going on around you guys.
This is just the first step in getting your dog into leash shape, but just be doing this one exercise you will see an improvement in your dog’s leash manners if you can also use it in real life situations in which you lose control over your dog on a walk. Just implement the same exercise, and watch the changes happen.
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