In my last blog, How to Pick a Great Leash Training Method for Your Dog I discussed a simple way to help you choose exercises or methods to teach your dog how to walk on leash. Here’s the thing. It applies to ANY kind of training you might want to do with your dog, not just leash training. That’s because it helps you choose training that focuses on what you want and the skills you need to teach your dog to get there.
In the spirit of this approach, I want to show you my favourite skills for leash walking. For me, I prefer practical skills that will allow me to be out with my dog and keep both of us comfortable. I’m not so concerned about precision heeling or obedience-style maneuvers. Rather, I want my dog to just be near me and the leash to be loose. They can sniff and check things out as long as they keep the leash loose to do that. There may be times that I want them to be right at my side so we can comfortably pass by people or other dogs. And there will be times when I need to set the pace and have them come along with me. This is a personal choice based on what I think is important for me and my dog, and what we do when we are out on a leashed walk. Your choices may be different. The important thing is that you have reasonable expectations and that you take the time to teach your dog the skills that they need to have this happen.And don’t forget – how you teach your dog these skills is just as important as what the actual skills are!
The Top 4
So here you are. My top 4 skills that I love for leash walking:
- The Sweet Spot.
This position at my side is where I like my dog to be:
- when we pass people or dogs
- before we go say hi
- at crossings
- whenever I stop
2. Keep Loose
Since I don’t want my dog right by my side for the entire walk, I need to teach more than just position. Teaching the dog that a loose leash keeps things moving along is a vital part of leash training. My focus here is on reinforcing a loose leash, rather than reacting to a tight leash.
Although a lot of people only teach skills with their dog on one side, (typically their left) I want my dog to be comfortable on BOTH sides. This skill will make it easy to reposition my dog to the other side. This is handy when:
- we pass other people or dogs
- I need to make extra space
- we are walking along a busy or noisy area and I want my dog on the ‘safe side’
4. Come Off Pressure
Although I focus on teaching position and matching my pace, there will be times when my dog manages to end up at the end of the leash. Teaching them to come off pressure rather than leaning into it is a handy skill.
So there you have it! This may seem like a short list, but each of these can be developed into additional skills and trained for different situations and uses. They are my starting point and the foundation of all the other on-leash skills and behaviours that I teach.
In my final blog in this series, I’ll share a must-have component to make your leash training a success!