Jump Start To Leash Training Your Dog Not To Pull – Part 2

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by jtclough on August 13, 2010

Breaking down the steps to training your dog to walk or run on a leash is key to your success.  Most dog owners who are frustrated with their dog always pulling ahead think of training their dog to walk on a leash as one step.

The concept of breaking down the training sessions into separate pieces is the way to take your dog from pulling on the leash to your dog walking or running with a relaxed easy pace near you.

Leash Length

Review the first session of Jump Start to Leash Training Your Dog Not To Pull.  The amount of leash you give your dog is going to determine how far your dog is going to pick up the physical message it is okay to push it out to the end.  If you give your dog the full length of the leash, your dog will push the envelope to full extent of the leash and more!  A shorter leash, you’ll have your dog closer to you creating the picture of the boundary you’d like your dog to stay within.

The concept is really no different than if the speed limit is 65, you go 70.  If it were 55 you would go 60.

Leash Workout Skill 2 – Master the Baby Steps

To develop a new skill without the simplest foundation is a sure way for disaster, yet without foundation is the way most go about training their dog to stop pulling on the leash.  Baby steps are needed to gain a foundation for the end result.  In the case of training your dog to walk or run on the leash you need to let go of the idea you are going to head out the door and proceed in forward motion as quickly as you can.

Back up and start over with leash training drills.  The first practice is to get your dog to walk near you for a couple of steps, then 4 to 5 steps, then 7 to 10 steps.  In order to re-train your dog to have the thought process to follow you, add turns, stops and starts and forward motion.  You’ll need to give up the idea that your normal routine is going to be different for a few days or weeks depending on your dog.

In other words, don’t plan on getting the leash on your dog and heading out your front door, around the block, through the next neighborhood to the trail and back that has become your daily routine, all the while your dog is pulling on you.  Get the foundation of your dog moving with you for a few steps, then turning to go in another direction down first.

How to Give Leash Directions

In the video you’ll see rewarding IN THE MOMENT your dog is in the right spot, not out ahead of you but loosely near you builds the knowledge base for your dog to know exactly where you want him or her to be.  That is actually the second part to this drill.  The first is you need to give your dog a clue that you plan on turning or stopping.  It is a way to rewire your dog’s brain to pay attention and stay with you rather than the old habit of pulling ahead as hard as possible.

To practice this step start by taking a few steps with your dog, then BEFORE you actually make the move to turn do the equivalent of flipping on your indicator in your car by telling your dog what to do with a term like “Let’s Go”, then slow your pace, then turn.  The first few times you do this and your dog follows you, reward WHILE you are making the turn.  Use your body language to signal your dog where to be.

Start thinking ahead of time.  Signal that you are going to make a turn before making the turn and do what you have to do to get your dog’s attention.  Dog’s do what works and you have to stop thinking it’s the dog’s fault for pulling ahead all the time and practice a new habit of paying attention for short periods of time almost to nauseum so that you can perfect it and move on to more forward motion for longer periods of time.  It will be worth the repetitive practice in the long run so the boredom on your part in this re-training stage is going to be completely worth it.

If your dog can’t stay beside you for 5 steps, how do you think he or she is going to stay beside you for 100 steps or a 1000 steps?

Practice Makes Permanent in Life and in Leash Training

The video shows turns being made in a small area and only in 180 degree turns.  Try practicing this drill by making short turns to the left and the right or 90 degree turns.  Mix it up by randomly stopping.  Walk or jog at a different pace for a 5 to 10 steps.  Always keep in mind you need to tell your dog what your a going to do right before you do it.  The two second association (the picture of word and action in your dog’s head) come together this way.  It is forward thinking rather than telling your dog what to do AFTER he or she has already moved out in front of you.

You may not make your full route by practicing this the first couple of weeks.  Remind yourself constantly your goal of not letting your dog pull on the leash means you have to create the right picture in all cases.  Walking or running beside you will mean you have to slow down and get it right before you can speed up and go long.  Slow down and work on the drills to get it right for 10 feet before you move on to longer distances.

Leash Training and Mindset

Dogs pick up on emotion before they pick up on anything else.  The simplest piece of advice which seems to be the hardest to practice is start thinking you dog CAN do this.  The thought that “my dog is impossible and is always going to pull“ in your head, will in fact create that action happening in real life every single day.  Believe in yourself and in your dog that you can follow through with these foundation steps and sure enough your dog will be running right beside you in no time.

Leash Training Comments and Questions

Sometimes it is the smallest piece of the puzzle that seems to be the most perplexing.  Questions on the leash training drills?  Ask them in the comments and please share you successes, tips and tricks that are working for you as well.

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