A blog about positive dog training

Month: June 2016 (Page 1 of 9)

How to teach loose leash walking?

Whether your dog is still a pup, or an adult you definitely want to teach him how to walk on a loose leash.

All dogs love to be outside and they need daily physical exercise and mental stimulation to be happy and healthy. While your dog definitely enjoys himself on his walks, can you say the same about yourself?

Is your dog pulling on the leash? Do you know, why this is happening?

The answer is simple:

Dogs pull on the lead mainly because they want to go and explore the environment, just like small children.

Their human companions are not ideal walking partners, as dog’s natural and comfortable walking pace is much faster than ours!

Leash pulling, when allowed is a self reinforcing behaviour, simply because the dog goes where he wants to go when he’s pulling

Exploring the environment is a natural part of being a dog and it wouldn’t be fair to discourage it. Instead you have to add a structure to this activity and let your dog know that he’s not supposed to pull you on the leash.

In order to teach your dog loose leash walking you will need few things.

  1. Good leash. My favourite, and the one I’m using everyday  is made by Halti. It’s double-ended, 2m (6.56 feet) long, and it gives you 3 different length options. You can buy it here.
  2. Good harness or a collar. I recommend using a harness. My favourite one is IDC Powerharness. It has a very useful handle and luminous changeable side labels, but if your dog pulls like a train I recommend buying a front clip harness like this one.
  3. Clicker and treats.

You should never use a prong collar or a pinch collar! If you want to know why, check this post about prong collars.

If you have everything you need let’s get started!

Step one

Before you start teaching your dog how to walk on a loose leash it’s important to show him, that being on the leash is a positive thing.

As always start in a place without distractions.

Put your dog on the leash, and start walking slowly, frequently changing directions. Whenever your dog moves with you click and treat. If your dog doesn’t want to follow you and is pulling in a different direction don’t yank on the leash! Encourage your dog to follow you by talking to him, or clapping your hands (if he likes you doing it), if it doesn’t work you can apply gentle pressure on the lead. The moment he decides to move with you click and treat.

The idea here is to get your dog to be comfortable being guided by the leash. You should never pull your dog or yank on the leash to force him to follow you.

When your dog is following you reliably, guided by the leash, your next training exercise is as follows:

 Ask your dog to sit by your side. If you didn’t teach him to sit by your side yet, you can lure him into position. Make sure that the leash is slack and start to walk in a straight line. Try to click before your dog gets ahead of you and reward him for walking by your side. This will make him stay next to you while taking the food that you give him.

Before you move to an environment with more distractions practice this until your dog stays next to you all the time.

Step two

I said before that pulling is a self reinforcing behaviour. If your dog is pulling you, and you follow him, he automatically gets rewarded (by being able to do what he wants – explore the environment).

That is why you should never walk while there is any tension on the leash, or you might be teaching your dog to pull.

There are 3 techniques that you can use in order to teach your dog not to pull on the leash.

  1. When your dog pulls, stop. Pretend that you don’t have your dog with you and wait until your dog backs up or turns to you. Click and treat your dog by your side, and move forward again.
    If this doesn’t work, you can try the second method:
  2. When your dog pulls, turn around and start walking in the opposite direction. When your dog caches up with you click and treat. Than turn around and continue walking in your original direction.
    If this method doesn’t work try this one:
  3. If your dog pulls, move away at a random angle that is not 180 degrees. Wait for your dog to catch up, than click and reward. Than simply turn around and continue in your original direction.

Summing up!

  1. Stop or change direction if there’s a tension on the leash.
  2. Encourage your dog to follow.
  3. Reward for the return.

That’s all there is to it. Keep in mind that you might be stopping or changing directions pretty frequently at the beginning. Your dog will need time to figure out what you want from him, so reward him for every return he makes.

Couple of things that you should keep in mind.

  • Whenever you go on a walk with your dog, remember that it should be a nice and relaxing time for both of you.
  • The walk starts before you leave the house. Make sure your dog is not getting over excited the moment you pick up his leash.
  • You don’t want your dog to pull you, and that’s OK, but remember, that by letting your dog to explore the environment on a loose leash, you’re reinforcing him to walk on a loose leash.
  • Remember, that dogs have their needs, and that walking to heel is not the same as walking on a loose leash. Don’t expect your dog to be glued to your leg all the time, give him some space ;)That’s it for today!

Keep it positive and remember to leave a comment to let me know that you enjoyed reading this post, or if you have any questions.

How to: teach your dog to come when called.

We all want our dogs to come when called. It’s also one of the most important things you should teach your dog. Today I’m going to teach you how to train your dog to come to you reliably.

In order to teach your dog to come when called, first we need to look at the reasons why they don’t come when we call them.

  • They don’t know the behaviour and don’t know the value of it – you probably didn’t show your dog what you want from him when you say “come”.
  • The behaviour is not practised enough or not proofed with distractions – speaks for itself.
  • They will not come if they developed problematic/negative association – if you scold your dog right after he comes to you or tell him how bad he was doing something you didn’t want him to do (before he came to you), he will associate the cue (and the action behind it, which is coming to you) with negative consequences.

Once we know the reasons why dogs don’t come to us when called, we can start teaching them the behaviour.

First thing you need to do is simply introduce the behaviour and the cue.

You should as always start in a distraction free environment.

This is what you need to do:

Create a set up where the dog does what you want him to do and gets rewarded for it.

Do it by getting your dogs attention simply by calling his name (make sure that he knows his name and likes when you say it, you can find out how to do it here). Wait until your dog gets really close to you and toss him a treat away from yourself. Your dog will most likely go to get the treat and return to you to get more. As your dog is returning from getting the treat introduce the cue “come“. Reward your dog for coming back.
Repeat it few times and your dog will start to associate the action of coming towards you with the cue “come”.

When your dog is coming back to you when called, now is the best time to introduce the release cue. My release cue is “free”, but you can choose whatever you like to be your release cue. Try to use a word that you don’t usually use in everyday speech.

This is how to do it.

When your dog comes to you, tell him to sit (make sure he’s in front of you) and reward him. Wait a moment before you toss another treat making sure that your dog’s attention is on you. When your dog is in sit position in front of you offering eye contact, entice him to move by saying the release cue and tossing a treat away from yourself.

Remember to practice it as much as possible in a distraction free environment before you take it to the next level.

When your dog is responding to the cue “come” every time you call him inside your home, you can start training him outside.

Remember to always use a long line and harness when training recall outside, for your dog’s safety. 

If you don’t have a long line or harness this is what I’m using: long line, harness . You can buy these on Amazon, or check your local pet shop if you want something else to suit your style.

Remember, that when you change the environment you should start from scratch. Repeat everything from the beginning.

Great thing to make it easy on yourself is to first do some eye contact training outside (you can find some info on how to do it in this post).

There’s a lot more stimuli in your garden, or in the park so you want your dog to be able to concentrate on you.
If you find it difficult to get your dogs attention, because of the distractions, check what is distracting your dog and simply move away from the source of the distraction.


If you want to reinforce the behaviour even more, you can try using Premack’s principle.

What is Premack’s principle?

Premack’s principle suggests that if a person wants to perform a given activity, the person will perform a less desirable activity to get at the more desirable activity; that is, activities may themselves be reinforcers. An individual will be more motivated to perform a particular activity if they know that they will be able to partake of a more desirable activity as a consequence.

There’s a great video created by Nando Brown of, that will show you exactly how you can use it to train your dog.
Check it out here: Premack recall
That’s it for today! Hope you enjoy reading this blog and if you do – subscribe, or follow us on Twitter. Remember – keep it fun and positive!

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