3 Steps to Leash Walking

Polite LeashStep 1: Walking Backwards

  • Load one hand with 20-30 treats. Hold the clicker in your other hand and loop a 4-5’ nylon or leather leash handle around the wrist of the hand with the clicker.
  • Eventually you will want your dog to walk on your left, so hold the clicker in your right hand. Your left hand should be free to deliver one treat AFTER each click.
  • STEP—CLICK—TREAT: Start your session by taking a one small step backwards. Click as you step. Then deliver a treat between your feet. Start indoors.  Deliver treat to floor between your feet. When you move outdoors, you may need to deliver the treat to your dog’s mouth, but still in position between your feet.
  • Continue stepping backwards, clicking each step and delivering one treat between your feet after each click. Start with 10 steps, build up to 20 steps, then 30 steps, with a 90 or 180-degree after each 10 steps.
  • Continue practicing Step 1 until your dog is staying right with you, following you enthusiastically for at least 30 steps backwards.
  • If your dog wanders away from you, avoid yanking the leash or pulling him back towards you. Stand still and wait until he starts to look or turn towards you, then click and deliver the treat in position (between your feet). Begin stepping backwards again, immediately. Keep your pace as quick as possible so that you can keep your rate of reinforcement high.
  • If your dog is distracted, move to a less distracting environment and start over.

Step 2: Walk Backwards – Click for Eye-Contact

  • Start with 3 steps, clicking and treating each step as described above.
  • STEP—PAUSE—CLICK—TREAT: After the 4th step, hesitate a split second. Your dog will look up towards your face. When she does, click the “check-in” and deliver the treat in position.
  • Continue stepping backwards, waiting for and then clicking and then treating each time your dog “checks-in” with you. Start with 10 steps, then 20 steps, then 30 steps (10 in each direction) with 90 or 180-degree turns.
  • Increase your speed, distance, and the interval between clicks. For example, you might click and treat every 3 steps, then every 5 steps. You may see your dog looking at you as you take these 3-5 steps…as if saying…”hey, I’m looking at you…where’s my click?”

Step 3: The PIVOT

  • Begin walking backwards, click and treat 3 “check-ins.”
  • Pivot 90-degrees so that our dog is on your left (keep left foot in place, take one step backwards with right foot, pivot to your right).
  • Click-then-Treat your dog in position (near your left knee).
  • Repeat 10 times, slowly…so that you do not get dizzy!
  • After the last pivot, immediately begin stepping forward, clicking and treating in position (near your left knee) with each step.
  • After 10 steps forward, clicking and treating each step, you may begin to wait for your dog to “check-in” before your Click-then-Treat.
  • Gradually increase distance, pace, duration, and distractions.

Training Tips:

  1. Use a martingale collar or front-clip harness.  If you dog is both strong and reactive on leash, use both with a 4′ leash connected to the collar and a 5′ leash connected to the harness.
  2. To be successful you need to maintain a very high rate of reinforcement when your dog is walking. Not rewarding frequently is one of the most common reasons for failure during leash training.
  3. In the beginning keep the leash short, but not taut, so your dog doesn’t have a lot of space in which to pull away from you.
  4. Click-then-Treat. Treat delivery should begin 1/2 second after the click.
  5. Practice loose-leash walking AFTER your dog has had some vigorous exercise or a warm-up training session.
  6. Keep training positive and upbeat! If your dog becomes distracted, call her name and say “Let’s go!” If he is overly distracted, move to a less distracting environment.
  7. Practice, practice, practice indoors. Then practice in your driveway.  Then practice in front of your house.  Then practice the length of one block, gradually increasing distractions.
  8. Set your Dog up for Success.  Make it easy.  Go back to Step 1 each time you change locations or increase distractions.  Go back to an easier location if you dog fails to keep the leash slack or fails to check-in.
  9. Watch my YouTube Playlist for more help: https://goo.gl/XybIc5

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