Think of leash training as training your dog to do a new trick. If your dog does the trick wrong you stop midway and begin again. Leash training is the same game. Most of us don’t look at it that way though and continue to perpetuate the leash pulling problem.
One important aspect to training a new trick or training your dog not to pull on the leash is how and when you reward. As with most things in life….
Timing is everything.
If you have a dog that pulls, you will without a doubt need to slow yourself down and back up in the process of what you have been doing while walking or running on leash with your dog. This is where you can change your mindset about by thinking of it as training a brand new trick rather than feeling like your a constantly correcting for bad behavior.
As simple as it sounds remind yourself to reward your dog IN THE MOMENT your dog is doing the thing you are asking….. “Let”s Go“ means walk or run beside you. Mark those moments when your dog is doing just that. Treats, verbal praise, pet, or very pleased body language all work.
How To ”Mark the Moment“
Marking the moment is giving your dog a reward or praise when the task you are asking for is being done right…. in the moment your dog is doing it.
Mark what you want your dog to do as opposed to waiting until your dog does something wrong and then saying no, no…. this is a bad habit to get into. It becomes permanent. Practice makes permanent. Always show your dog what to do and forget about he no, no part of it.
The Best Ways to Reward Your Dog
The biggest complaint when training your dog how to walk or run nicely on a leash with you is….
”He won’t do it if I don’t have a treat in my hand!“
Yep. So true. From the very beginning you are conditioning your dog to act in a certain way to get a certain reward and if those elements are only for one thing (a treat), if you don’t have the treat then no go on the behavior. So it will hold true if you ALWAYS use a treat to get your dog to do any action, when you take the treat away, the action goes away too.
Knowing that then, what is the best reward for your dog? Ultimately, the answer should be the good feeling you and your dog will end up giving one another by developing a communication that is understood on both ends of the leash…. so start training for that action/reaction from the very beginning.
Mix up your reward system from the start. Believe me, I’m not saying treats are a bad pay off at all. It’s just that if you build it as the only suitable reward for your dog to perform… you’re pretty much screwed if you don’t have the treat.
Use all the feel good things you can while training your dog to do something new, or re-training your dog to do something right, as with the case of dogs who pull on the leash.
Use treats, toys, verbal praise, physical pets, and body language to reward your dog for doing it right. Use these various communication and reward tools randomly so your dog will work for any of them at any given time.
Concentrate on Telling your Dog What to Do
The habit to tell your dog ”no, stop pulling“ is very easy to fall into. If you only allow yourself to tell your dog what to do, and then do every thing you can to get your dog to follow through with that action, you’ll end up in the direction you want to be quickly.
If You Think You Can, or You Think You Can’t, You are Usually Right!
However, if you have a dog that is giving your difficulty and cannot seem to get over it, a little private coaching may be in order. As the DogTread Pro Exclusive Trainer helping you break down the components and finding what you and your dog may be missing can get you on the road to a daily walk or run and back to enjoying your dog again.
And if you are in the San Diego area a private coaching session with you and your dog is always an option that will leave you and your dog to all the open trails, beaches and dog friendly events with wagging tails and good times to be had.