Walk This Way Week 1
Traffic Walking/Loose Leash Walking
The dog is walking on a short, 4-6 foot, leash while maintaining slack in the leash. This walking style is generally used in high traffic areas such as neighborhoods, some parks, and downtown. The dog is allowed to sniff as long as there is no tension in the leash to do so. Goals: Tension on leash=look at the handler, When in motion dog is walking next to/near handler without pulling.
Step 1: With your dog on a leash, pin your leash hand to your belly button and feed your dog from the hand closest to them this prevents them from crossing in front of you to get the treat faster. Take one step in any direction, as your dog moves with you mark with a “yes good dog!” and give a food reinforcement. Be sure to deliver the food next to the leg you want them to walk by. Repeat taking one step at a time moving in any direction.
Step 2: Now start taking multiple steps in any direction and as your dog steps with you mark with a “yes, good dog!” and give a food reinforcement. If your dog pulls ahead stop moving and wait for them to look at you then mark with a “yes, good dog!” and reinforce with food at your side, after dog retrieves the food begin walking again. Change your direction frequently, moving back and forth if on a sidewalk.
Step 3: Now that your dog has an idea of what we want let’s add our cue, I use “let’s walk”. Toss a find it treat on the ground for your dog, once they pick it up say “let’s walk” and then start moving in any direction and repeat step 2. At any time you can stop and toss another find it so you may practice your cue again.
Step 4: Release to “go sniff”, leash walking is mentally and physically challenging so I encourage you to give your dog sniff breaks often. When you get to an area you think your dog will sniff (mailbox, tree, light post) say “go sniff!” and usher them to the sniff spot. You can toss some food on the ground if they need extra encouragement. Allow them to sniff as long as they please and when they are done give the walking cue and start walking!
But what if my dog never looks at me or won’t take food from my hand?
This is where we can use our “take it” cue! Here is a video example of me using take it with Prudence to build engagement. She is in her Elmer Fudd mode and her primary interest is hunting rabbits! She has zero interest in look at me and barely any in moving my direction.