It’s hard to blame our pups for pulling on the leash sometimes! We know that in our Edmonton river valley there are so many stimuli like other pups, people, and smells that really lure our dogs in every direction. Mastering the art of the loose leash walk will ultimately make your walks more enjoyable and safe for you and your fur-baby, and also lays down a great foundation for learning other skills and behaviours. Doing this takes time and patience, but there are so many resources to help you on your pursuit to a loose leash walk! At Dog Jogs we do a lot of dog walking and dog jogging (no surprise there!) so we’ve had loads of opportunities to try out the various strategies for good leash skills, and these are a few of our favourites!
1. Choose the Right Time of Day
When taking your pup out for a more structured training walk, it’s important to pick the right time of day. You definitely don’t want to attempt working on leash skills when your dog has the zoomies! This time will be different for every pup, it might be after a long fetch session or just before dinner, whenever you believe your dog will be most attentive! We know that not everybody has the privilege of taking their pup out at that specific time of day, which is one of the big benefits of having a dog walker in Edmonton! Dog walkers can take your pup out at a similar time every day to maintain that consistency and structure that you’ve already established.
2. Positive Reinforcement for the Win
Rewarding good behaviour reinforces what your pup has done correctly, rather than focusing on what they did wrong. Positive reinforcement thus increases the chances of your pup repeating the desired behaviour. This is a super important part of teaching your dog to walk with a loose leash, as it requires a lot of redirection. This sort of encouragement usually comes in the form of treats and/or praise. When walking with your pup it can be helpful to have a pouch of treats that are easily accessible so that you don’t have to stop and rustle around your bag for them, which could potentially break the focus of your hard working pup! Another tip from us dog walkers is to carry treats of varying value in your pouch. This can be helpful if you want to assign different levels of rewards for different behaviours, for example a small treat to reinforce walking by your side and a high value treat to reinforce passing another pup without any pulling. Of course if you treated every little behaviour your pouch would be empty in no time, which is where vocal praise comes in. When dog walking we love to chat with your dogs in various tones to let them know that they are loose leash superstars!
3. Find Equipment That Works for You
Picking the right equipment is another way to ensure the comfort and safety of you and your pup, especially for when you are working on loose leash skills. Many people opt for harnesses instead of collars to take the tension off their dog’s head and neck. Others believe that harnesses allow pulling to a certain extent, so they choose a collar. It can be a tedious process trying out different supplies for your pup but as long as you are making a choice that protects the comfort and safety of your dog then you are making the right choice for you. One tip from us dog joggers is to ditch the retractable leash. These leashes are very hard to control and can be dangerous. The long cord on a retractable leash can easily break if it is pulled hard at the end of its line, which can cause serious injury to you or your pup. Because the lead extends as your dog moves forward, this can result in more pulling when walking with a regular leash because your pup has been taught that pulling on the leash extends the lead. All in all it’s best to opt out of a retractable leash and to explore what works best for you.
4. Mentally Stimulating Games
This is a strategy that dog walkers in Edmonton use all the time! Getting your pup mentally tuckered out engages their brain and can make them much more likely to walk with a loose leash. One game that we play at Dog Jogs is called “Stop and Go”. From the name of the game you can probably figure out how to play, but essentially whenever your dog begins to pull you simply stop walking. Once your pup has stopped and is sitting down, you start walking again. This game establishes that when there is tension on the leash, you don’t walk. After practising this you can stop and go at various points on your walk to keep your dog’s focus on you and to reinforce that loose leash walking! For an added twist you can switch the speed of your walking every time you stop to practice leash skills at various cadences. Having your pup jump up and down off benches, bringing a rope toy on your walk, and walking in circles are a few other activities that you can try to engage your pup’s brain!
We hope that you can use some of these tips for loose leash walking. It’s no easy feat and we are here to help in any way that we can! Contact us at any time with any questions you may have, or if you would like more resources. If you are hesitating to book services with a dog walker in Edmonton because your pup tends to pull on leash, know that all of our dog joggers are well-versed in walking strategies and are more than happy to help your pup become a loose leash superstar!