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Old January 23rd, 2013, 10:36 PM
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tenderfoot tenderfoot is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Posts: 1,249
Dogs learn to pull against the leash because people GIVE the leash to them to control. The dog steps ahead of the person pulling on the leash and the persons hand goes forward towards the dog and the person takes a step in that direction. So the person just taught the dog to pull them where they want to go. OR the dog pulls back refusing to move forward and the person stops in their tracks and gives the leash back to the dog so the dog learns that "I stop and the whole world stops with me". Whose leading the dance?

You would never walk holding hands with someone if they were pulling you down the path or forcing you to drag them down the path. Why do we permit it with our dogs?

It is our responsibility to TEACH our dogs how to walk with us - not because we are forcing them with devices or keeping food in their face, but because they are learning how to walk with us and to give to the pressure of the collar/leash AND create their own loose leash.

Begin ALL drills in the house - it is too exciting outside for your dog to focus. The first step is to face your dog with the leash attached to each of you - give a little pressure on the leash as you encourage the dog to come towards you. The heartbeat the dog takes one step towards you (giving to the pressure of the leash) release the leash pressure and praise him. Practice this until you give the tiniest pressure on the collar and the dog happily comes right towards you.

Now place the dog at your side and ask him to join up with you as you apply a cue of pressure on the leash so the dog readily comes along. Take 2 steps and stop abruptly. If the dog stops beside you then relax and praise. However if he starts to cross your toe line you need to stop his forward movement with the leash and abruptly turn into him and go in the other direction 2 steps and stop again. Repeat this pattern until he consistently stops with you at your toe line. If he stops at your toe line he has earned more forward movement. Then you can expand your steps to 3, 4, 5 and quickly you are heeling throughout the house and soon you will practice on the driveway and then down the road. But your dog can't go for a proper walk until he can show that he can stay nicely by your side on a loose leash.

Oh, and puppies should only take walks long enough for them to handle - the formula is 5 minutes per month old. 5 mo = 25 minutes. You can do several 25 min. sessions a day but don't jam them all together into one long session. It does too much damage to their joints.

Better to have a plan - instead of going to the park and back or around the block, take that same 25 mins and do a walking lesson with your dog. You are both moving and getting exercise, but you are engaging your dogs mind and that is more tiring and WAY MORE BENEFICIAL than a 25 min pulling fest.
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