In our previous post about loose-leash walking, we discussed a number of strategies for teaching your dog to walk politely on leash. If you missed that one, go back and check it out, then come back to this post.
Now that you’ve built a solid foundation for polite walking on the leash, it’s time to take these skills out into the world. Remember, staying focused and motivated in the face of many distractions is hard for your dog! Having a properly fitted, comfortable, safe dog harness for your pup is a great way to make this part of the process easier.
The Red Light, Green Light game is a great way to further hone your dog’s loose-leash walking skills. When you’re out walking, keep an eye on the leash. As soon as it tightens, STOP! This is the “red light.” The moment the leash loosens up, even the slightest amount, GO! This is the “green light.” The goal is to teach your dog that when the leash is loose, walking continues; if it tightens, the walk stops.
Provide treats, petting, and lots of praise with your happy-talk voice while your dog is walking nicely, especially when they correct themselves by adjusting themselves before the leash goes tight (this is a wonderful “Aha! Now I get it!” moment for your dog!). Continuing to reward the behavior you want, as well as playing Red Light, Green Light, will hasten your dog’s learning of this valuable skill.
Consistency and precise timing when playing Red Light, Green Light will help get the message across clearly. So, do all you can to STOP if your dog pulls and the leash tightens and GO when the leash is loose. Of course, it’s critical that you keep your dog and yourself safe at all times! Do not STOP in traffic or GO toward the edge of a dangerous cliff! And remember that a harness that is comfortable and properly fitted will make your loose-leash walking training easier and safer for all involved.
Always use your happy voice to get your dog’s attention and to encourage them to walk nicely. Keep in mind that the average dog walks at a pace much faster than our own. Knowing this can help us understand that our dogs do a great deal to accommodate us humans! The least we can do is repay them with enthusiasm, praise, love, and many wonderful walking adventures together.
Do you have a great game or other strategy that has helped with loose-leash walking success? Share it in the comments so everyone reading can harness the fun of a walk without pulling.