Leash Walking

Level 1   /   Level 2   /   Level 3

Practice inside your house and yard

Goal:
• While on leash, your dog pays attention to you as you take your first step together.
• Build a history of reinforcement at your left leg pant’s seam.

Lay the Foundation:
1. Inside your house, with your dog on leash, say your dog’s name to get eye contact, then take one step backwards away from your dog. CT for any movement towards you. Make sure that you always present the treat at your left pant’s leg seam. Repeat until your dog is fluently moving with you.
2. Repeat for moving right, left, forwards and backwards.
3. Say your dog’s name to get eye contact, then say “let’s go”, and take two steps away from him in any direction. CT for any movement towards you. Repeat in different directions.
4. Gradually increase the number of steps, one at a time before you CT. Don’t always make it harder: sometimes you should click for taking fewer steps.
5. Practice in new locations inside the home, and increase some distractions e.g. ask your partner to stand in the room (but ignoring the dog). Then take it outside into your back yard.

Helpful Hints:
• This teaches your dog to walk at your side, rather than exploring, forging or pulling on leash.
• Do not expect your dog to walk perfectly on leash within a week. This exercise takes a lot of practice by both of you. If it takes you 20 minutes just to get down your driveway then consider that time well spent.
• If you’re having trouble holding the leash, clicker and treats in your hand as well as your dog, talk to your instructor for some options to help you. Each person is an individual so there is no general holding technique that will work for everybody.
• It’s important to start this training indoors or in your backyard with minimal distractions.

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Increase your distance between rewards

Goal:
• You gradually increase the number of steps you take between rewards.
• Your dog walks on a loose leash even when there are distractions.

Develop Understanding:
1. Now start taking more forward steps, and reward your dog for every two steps that he takes with you. Click as your dog is moving with you. Then stop and offer a treat from your left hand to your left pant’s seam.
2. If your dog pulls ahead, stop and stand still. Do not reinforce pulling by moving forward. Wait until your dog’s attention returns to you and then change direction. Turn left, right or go backwards before going forwards again.
3. Ask your dog to sit next to you whenever you stop, and stop often.
4. Gradually increase the number of steps, one at a time before you CT. Don’t always make it harder: sometimes you should click for taking fewer steps.

Helpful Hints
• CT whenever your dog looks at you to reinforce his attention on you. Be proactive and always reward appropriate walking.
• When training small dogs, use capturing or a target stick to prevent having to walk bent over.
• Use a visual marker, e.g. lines in the sidewalk, to remind yourself to click and deliver a treat every few steps.
• Make sure that you always reward your dog at your pant’s seam for walking next to you. This will help to encourage the dog to stay close to you in his “reinforcement zone”.
• It’s important to start this training indoors or in your backyard with minimal distractions.
• It takes two to pull. You should never exert your force to drag your dog anywhere. However, if your dog pulls you, you should stop dead in your tracks, and wait for him to turn around to look at you and then change direction as you start moving again.

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Take it on the road

Goal:
• You gradually increase the distractions and duration of steps.

Practice Proficiency:
1. Add more steps to your forward movement.
2. Vary the number of steps and change direction in a random fashion (yes, your neighbors will start to worry about you). Keep CT’ing for the first movement towards you whenever you change direction.
3. Add distractions and head out on the road.
4. Make the distractions more challenging.
5. Remember to use your verbal cue “let’s go” every time you take that first step after a halt.

Helpful Hints
• Take breaks to allow your dog to explore and sniff. Consider using a cue “free” to signal exploration time

Download Leash Walking PDF