5 – Distraction Defeater – Loose Lead Walking

For some people loose lead walking is the biggest problem and so it’s the obvious thing that needs addressing. But for others, the pulling on the lead problem may feel secondary to other more urgent issues such as reactivity. However, training your dog to walk on a loose lead is essential for dogs of any temperament because a dog who is pulling is not calm. And a dog who is not calm is unlikely to be able to listen to you. They’re worked up, just trying to go forwards, forwards, forwards. Loose lead walking is a calm behaviour. Calm body, calm mind.

Loose lead walking is also an essential part of recall training. If you can’t walk past another dog or person or whatever the distraction may be on lead without being able to maintain your dog’s focus, you’ll struggle even more off lead.

The following loose lead walking technique is called Follow the Leader. Train your dog to pay attention to you by continually changing direction and reward a slack lead. It is one loose lead walking exercise of many. We will show you another one on the Stress Free Dog Walks Challenge. 

Method 

  1. Keeping the lead full length, walk slowly with your dog, randomly changing direction every 2-3 steps and randomly giving your dog a treat, regardless of what they are doing
  2. As above, but this time mark and reward when the lead is slack (it is most likely to be slack when you change direction). 
  3. Always be on the lookout for any eye contact you can mark and reward if offered.
  4. Like step 2, but this time only change direction every 5-7 steps. Mark and reward a slack lead.
  5. Keeping the lead full length, walk slowly with your dog in a straight-line. If the lead goes tight, stop and wait for your dog to work out what they need to do to get you moving again. Mark and reward a slack lead.
  6. Keeping the lead full length, walk slowly with your dog in a straight-line. Mark and reward a slack lead, but this time place the treat by your leg on the side you want your dog to walk on. 
  7. As above but walk at a normal pace. Mark and reward a loose lead. 

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