If there is one exercise that can make a huge difference to a dog's quality of life, it is walking on a loose lead. If we are able to take our dogs for walks without them pulling the lead, we will be able to provide environmental enrichment in a relatively easy way. Taking the dog for walks provides physical exercise, mental stimulation and opportunities for bringing them in contact with other dogs, people and other stimuli.
If the dog is pulling the lead, it will not be pleasant to take him for walks and it will lead to a bored dog who might show unwanted behaviour. It is important to remember that dogs do not decide to pull their leads; we let them pull the leads. It actually takes two to pull a lead. If puppy is unable to walk on a loose lead, he will be unable to do so as an adult. Better to invest time to teach the 8kg puppy in order to be able to walk the 40kg adult easily on a loose lead.
Once again there are different ways to teach puppy to walk on a loose lead.
One of the ways:
Have puppy on a flat collar or harness. This should be appropriately fitted in order to ensure safety and comfort.
Have a few treats in your hand. This hand is to be held in front of puppy's nose. The other hand is holding the lead. Let the lead cross your body.
Hold the treat hand as close to your body as possible - it will be either next to your thigh, knee, calve or ankle - depending on puppy's height.
Let puppy sniff and then follow the treat to walk next to your body. Your hand position will determine where puppy will be.
In the beginning reward puppy every few steps. You can extend this period as puppy's understanding of what is expected improves.
Verbally encourage puppy to make it exciting to walk next to you.
Do this exercise in the garden before waling in the street.
Take treats with you when walking puppy in the street, as this is probably the most difficult place to walk a dog.
IF: Puppy is reluctant to move forward, praise and treat him for giving only one step towards you. Refrain from trying to pull puppy towards you as this will only encourage the 'equal and opposite reaction' whereby puppy will pull away from you.
Another way - of teaching walking on a loose lead:
Have the collar or harness fitted comfortably.
Hold the lead, keeping it at the same length. You may want to hold it close to your belly button, and keep your elbow bent. This is important as one does not want to give puppy more lead when he stops and encourage him to pull the lead.
Walk with puppy when the lead is loose. As soon as the lead tightens, stop.
Puppy can go anywhere where it is safe if the lead is loose. Walking forward becomes the reward.
Encourage puppy to walk next to you by talking and rewarding this position.
Praise can be exciting and does not have to be as calm as when teaching a stay exercise.
If we are able to take our dogs for walks without them pulling the lead, we will be able to provide environmental enrichment in a relatively easy way.
FAQ'S FOR WALKING ON A LOOSE LEAD:
Which side should the dog be on?
If you are going to do competition obedience the dog should be on your left. I believe the dog must be able to walk on either side. Start off where it is comfortable for you.
The dog walks in front of me. Does he think he is the leader?
The dog most probably walks ahead of you because he has been trained to do so, whether you intended it that way or not. He can be shown where you want him to walk by following the above steps.