Leash training 101: The golden rule

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The majority of dog owners only deal with the subject of leash training when it becomes a problem. In the beginning, when they take their dog for a walk, they first think that it is ‘acute’ when a puppy pulls away the whole walk to the park because they think that the dog can ‘not wait to play with his ball’. But once this pattern of pulling away has established itself, it takes patience to reorient itself.

No matter what equipment and training method you choose, experts will tell you that there is a golden rule to follow when teaching leash manners: Every pulling by the dog means that all forward movements stop.

As soon as your puppy or dog pulls on the leash, stop ñ every time! Ah, but instead of just standing there and making this a battle of wills, we humans outwit our clever dogs and convince them that a loose pull on the leash really works in their favor. Therefore, the training will include treats, praise and other positive rewards.

Add a clicker to the mix

Help your dog learn that it is a good idea to stay close to you, that good things happen when you are around. To achieve this goal, we suggest that you use a clicker, a small hand-held device that makes a ‘clicking sound’ when it is pressed.

The click marks the desired behavior the second it occurs, and a treat follows immediately. A clicker is a good way to break through the confusion in the environment that comes with most leash walks and helps your dog focus on you and what he is doing to get “paid”.

The clicker helps teach your dog to ignore tempting distractions because you become more interesting to your dog than anything else.

Not surprisingly, a young puppy who has never had the chance to develop the habit of pulling is the easiest to teach. First collect your training equipment and grab the leash on the buckle collar. Start running and talk to the puppy in a happy, friendly voice. When he turns to look at you and the leash becomes loose, CLICK!

Through this interaction, your dog will learn that you are indeed an integral part of the walk.

Note: Frequent clicking and treats during the walk will teach your dog that the big reward is usually within a radius of one foot around you. Most puppies will start to stay close in the hope of another reward.

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