The Strategy for Training Great Loose-Leash Walks2 minute read
Some of the games in this course don't seem to have much to do with walking on a leash, especially in the beginning, so in order to prevent you from thinking "how in the world is this supposed to help?" we wanted to share the thought process behind each section.
Here it is. The not-so-secret-and-actually-pretty-simple strategy:
The Learning Phase
The first time you go through the course you should focus on learning as much as you can. You will practice some things and you will try to get better in each of the different areas, but you'll also move fairly quickly through all the games in this phase.
Get your pup's attention
Walking on a leash is a synchronized act which means you have to work together. It's hard to do that if your pup is ignoring you.
Get your pup into the proper walking position
The best place for your pup to be on a walk is by your side. You need to show her where that position is and give her a good reason to want to be there.
Learn to move together
It's one thing to come into position while you're standing still, it's another thing for your dog to stay there while you're walking. This section is meant to work on that more complex skill.
Develop tools to manage distractions and minimize your pup's reaction to them
Distractions are always going to be there. No dog is immune to them, but you can make them less distracting.
The Practice Phase
After you go through the learning phase, you'll still need to practice a lot before you reach your loose-leash walking goals. You'll want to have two types of training sessions:
Practice a specific skill
Identify those those things your dog most needs to work on and devote an entire training session to working on just that one thing. There's no right or wrong skill to work on first. Just strive to make progress with each training session and work on the things that feel the most important to you.
Go on walks
Ultimately, if you want to get good at walks, you need to go on a lot of walks. Once your pup will walk on a loose leash for at least part of the time, you're ready to go on walks. Keep in mind these walks are a training session, so adapt them to fit that purpose. That might mean turning around and going home early or it might mean changing your route to avoid the other dog walking towards you. The focus should still be on the training, not the walk itself.