Loose Leash Walking Revisited for Those Have Difficulty with The "Dance"

I have used this technique for those who have some difficulty with the "dance" of loose leash walking. This is when I implement something a little different. I instruct them to stop using their hands to control the leash. By going hands free, it is much easier to deliver rewards at the appropriate time and reduce accidental tension on the leash. What happens is that people create tension on the leash while they are still praising and rewarding.  By going hands free, the only way tension is made on the leash is if the dog pulls away from you. We are supposed to be rewarding and praising for a loose leash, the leash tightens up inadvertently by the handler, and they continue to reward and praise. How confusing for the dog!

What to Do with the Leash

The way to go hands free with a leash is by simply wrapping the leash around your waist and threading the leash through the handle loop. When threading the leash through the handle loop, you can wrap it around the handle strap a couple of times to prevent the leash from working it's way down your legs as your walking. I have made a hands free leash with a carabineer clip attached to the end and then secured it to the line after it is wrapped around the waist. (same principle, but there is no handle loop)

The Exercise

The leash is secured around your waist and now your hands are free to reward him appropriately. With the dog on your left side, have treats stored in your left hand for him to focus on, but deliver treats from your right. (you can also do this on the opposite side if that is more comfortable) Treats are stored in one hand for focus and the other hand is used for delivering them.  

"Let's go"→The leash is loose as you are moving forward→"Good" (keep moving forward)→treat

The leash tightens up as you are moving forward→"Eh-eh"→Abruptly stop moving forward and back away→encourage him back to you→once he is back and focused on you, "Good"→treat→start again.

Improve Performance

As he becomes 90% compliant slowly start weaning him off of the food lure by not always having your hand down for him to focus on. From your hand down 100% of the time to 75% to 50% and so on.

Start with him on your side and give the "Let's go" cue  

When the leash is loose, "Good"→treat *Do not reach out to give the reward. Have him approach you to get it.*

Starting to pull? Give the no reward marker and back away from the source of the pulling until he looks at you for direction. At this point (looking at you) say, "Good"→treat. "Let's go" and continue walking again.

Introduce Distractions

One variable at a time! For instance, take less steps between praise and treats when distractions are present. You may need to use your hand again as a lure to keep his focus off of the trigger. Work under the behavioral threshold. Remember to reward him every few steps with "Good"→treat. You can slowly reduce the distance to the source of his pulling by practicing this exercise at varied distances! If done properly, over time he will walk near distractions as if there is nothing there to occupy his focus.

Start enjoying your walks with some help from Rogue Dog Training!

Return to Tips and Tricks