Leash walking your best friend should be an enjoyable activity for you and your dog. Taking walks with your dog is a time of relaxation and bonding, as well as an opportunity for mental and physical exercise. However, your fun and relaxing time with your best friend can turn into an undesirable experience if the walk turns into a battle of wills. Improving your dog’s leash walking skills is not always an easy task, especially if you do not know where to start. This is why attending a fear-free dog training in Hamilton, VA is essential.
Dogs have no idea how to walk on a leash. In fact, they’re pretty clueless what the leash is for in the first place! Polite leash walking not only makes going on a walk so much more fun, but safer too— when your dog is mindful and cooperative on the leash, he’s less likely to pull you, drag you, or even run away from you when you’re outside.
Your dog does not enjoy pulling. It puts his body in an unnatural position and places pressure on his neck and throat, causing discomfort and potential damage. Pulling may begin with your dog trying to get away from leash pressure or trying to get to a location or thing quickly. Before long, pulling becomes a learned behavior in which the dog believes he must pull to move forward.
Every time your dog pulls on the leash and you move forward, you are reinforcing your dog for pulling. Simply, your dog pulls, you move forward, and he thinks, “Yes, that worked.” For your dog to stop pulling, you need to have a plan that is consistently executed.
Do not move forward if your dog pulls. Be patient and wait for your dog to move back to you or for him to create slack in the leash, then move forward.
Consistently reinforce your dog for being near you. Remember that you are competing with all the interesting things in the environment and you need to make yourself more interesting and rewarding. Try rewarding your dog for being near you with a tasty treat.
Make sure to move forward when there is slack in the leash. You can also use the environment as a reward by letting your dog sniff and explore when he creates slack in the leash.
Consistency, consistency, consistency! While teaching your dog not to pull, it is very important never to move forward when your dog pulls. If there are times that you just give up and move forward, your dog will get confused and resort back to the behavior (pulling) he is familiar with and has practiced the longest.
Start Them Young
Training your dogs to walk politely on a leash should be done as early as possible. Very young puppies tend to be hesitant as they explore the world around them, so they’re more likely to follow you around all the time. This natural behavior is an excellent foundation for polite leash walking, so begin reinforcing it often to show your puppy that walking by your side makes good things happen.
Between eight to 16 weeks of age, your puppy will start exploring on his own. It may be more challenging for him to want to stay close to you while walking. That's why it's advisable to enroll your puppy in puppy group class as soon as you can, this can be as early as eight weeks of age. Hamilton dog training classes offering a series of puppy classes is a great way to get started.
A well-run, fear-free puppy class creates a controlled environment where you can reinforce the desired behavior (walking with you) even when there are distractions nearby, like other puppies and people.
Walk with Me
Teaching your dog to walk nicely beside you takes time and lots of practice. You should always begin where there is little to no distractions so that you can have your dog’s undivided attention. Teaching your dog to walk beside you should be fun and rewarding for your pup, making being next to you the BEST place ever.
Getting your dog to walk next to you on a slack leash can be challenging. Using positive reinforcement techniques motivates your dog to walk next to you, helps build focus, and improves your relationship with your dog.
Attending a group manners class where a trainer can coach you is a great way to get started with teaching your dog to walk politely on a leash. Positive reinforcement dog training classes can be found near you in Leesburg, Hamilton, and Purcellville, Virginia.
You’ll encounter these different types and more during your Leesburg dog training classes, but the one thing they have in common is that they make the exercise as fun as possible for the puppy (and you!)
Experience a Fun Dog Training
The truth is that strict leash walking training can be incredibly dull for your puppy, especially if it’s all you do all the time. But we want him to enjoy every minute of walking near you until he loves it so much, he offers polite behavior on his own.
And how is this achieved? Through games, of course! Positive reinforcement trainers have come up with a lot of games that not only strengthen the desired behavior (polite leash walking), but also make training a fun experience for you and your furry pet. Excited to try it out? Register for dog training classes with Hearts in Harmony!