Lovin’ the Loose Leash

Come oooooon!!!
Come oooooon!!!

Agility dogs are often high drive and high energy and rarin’ to go! They want their leashes off and they want to be running over that course. But often, you want them on their leash and walking beside you, not at the end of their leash (end of your rope!) and hauling you along.

While the micro-millimeter heel isn’t necessary, loose leash walking is. Every dog should be able to walk on a loose leash.  You don’t want to risk your dog injuring their windpipe, or straining your shoulder or back from walking a hauling dog. Train your dog to walk with you, not walk for you by setting your heels in. As he’s at the end of the rope, leaning into it, spin around with no warning and go the other way. Yes, this will pull him with you quite hard. That is the point. Chances are, he’ll run to the end of the leash in that direction. That’s okay. Turn around again and walk the other way. This might take a few repetitions, but your dog doesn’t like being hauled, so he’ll stick a little bit closer to you to avoid it, and keep a closer eye on you. Praise him effusively when he walks beside you, or loose-leashed. Tell her she’s the greatest dog ever and isn’t it nice to have your collar not pulling? And look! treats! Pretty soon the dog will clue in and offer the behavior of their own accord, and you’ll have a much better time walking.

Some dogs have conditioned themselves to not care about the pull of their collar.  These dogs may benefit from a head halter or harness for retraining.  Remember to reward the behavior you want! Make it worth their while to walk beside you in a mannerly fashion with a loose leash.  Dogs will do what rewards them, and pulling rewards them with sights and smells and other dogs and sometimes food!  Walking beside you has to be worth it to them. Once it is, it’ll be worth it to you to walk them more often!  a dog on a loose leash is a pleasure to walk.

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