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Friday, August 22, 2014

Loose Leash Walking. Part 5. Leash? What Leash?

We have already talked about teaching a dog how to stay with us without any equipment. Once we start using equipment, our loose leash walking training can go much more smoothly if we try to make the leash as inconsequential as possible.  Once we start pulling on the leash, our dogs will to.   So try to think of the leash as just being there for backup.

Some ways that we can make the leash not such a big deal:

- Pick up the leash several times a day for no reason. No walkies. Just pick it up and put it down.  If this gets your dog too excited, then go in tiny stages. i.e. walk towards the leash. Next time reach towards the leash. Next pick up the leash 1 inch off the counter etc..

- Later, try clipping on the leash for no reason. Clip it on, maybe give a treat and take it off. Or clip it on and take it right back off. Or clip it on, ask for some tricks, give some treats, take it off. Once again, if this is frustrating to your dog, take it in stages. Work in some relaxation exercises as well.

- While in a secure and safe location (like indoors), walk pup on leash. Praise and treat for the dog staying near you, stay engaged with your pup.  Then drop the leash, but don't act like it was dropped. Just let it drag and continue engaging, praising and treating. Then pick up the leash like it's no big deal; and later drop it like it's no big deal.

- You can also clip and unclip the leash while walking in secure/safe environments.

See more details on how to work the last two suggestions in Leslie McDevitt's
Control Unleashed and Control Unleashed: The Puppy Program (not just for puppies).

It's also best to try the above after your dog has had significant exercise or walks and has had plenty of opportunities to go outside and potty.

- Once outside in safe areas, you can also try a long leash. Using a long line, you can drop the leash without actually dropping the leash. But be aware that a long leash isn't for every dog nor every situation.   Don't use on on large rambunctious dogs, nor in traffic areas. Speak with a skilled behaviorist about the circumstances where a long line might be beneficial.

In the below video, you can see Puddin dragging a long line. Because it's dragging, it can sort of feel like I dropped it, but since we are not in a secure area, I have the leash clipped to my belt buckle.  Also note how I stay engaged with her (talking and/or tapping my leg) and I give her a lot of treats because she is staying close to me.

See more on Loose Leash Walking here
And here 

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