Have you ever had a time where you were walking down the street and someone was being walked by there dog? I don’t mean them walking with the dog walking next to them…I mean the dog pulling their owner to get to somewhere. This is very common in our everyday world, where people buy a dog to be a guard dog or a house dog that is more spoiled than their kids.
But since when has this become okay? When have we decided that our dogs can control our lives instead of us controlling our dogs? Has society become afraid of trying to control their dog because they may be perceived as a mean owner?
I have been training dogs in 4-H for 10 years and I train dogs at the place where I work. And one of the biggest things that we work on is a dog walking properly on a leash. Loose leash walking is something that is very important when you have a dog and are out on a walk.
First thing you need to do is find the right collar to use. I do not recommend using a collar that your dog wears on a regular basis. This is because these collars to do offer a lot of correction. Here is a list of different collars and an explanation of how each one works.
1 and 2: These are a nylon and chain martingale. These are the easiest collars to use. They give correction when needed, but they aren’t something that will hurt your dog when corrected. These are recommended or smaller dogs or dogs that are more gentle.
3: A gentle leader. This is also known as a head collar. This may not be real comfortable for your dog, but there is a way to desensitize your dog to a gentle leader so that they don’t cut up their face while wearing this around their nose. This is not so much for training, but can be used for walking.
4: An easy walker. This is used more for when a dog knows how to walk on a leash. This doesn’t make a lot of corrections, but it does work. An easy walker is also used for dogs that have problems in their neck and can’t wear collars.
5: A choke chain. There isn’t another name for this, and this collar is the hardest to use. The reason for this is because it only uses correction. You as the trainer need to know how to use this collar properly before you use it.
6: A prong collar. This collar should only be used for very strong dog. Do not use this on a small dog. This should only be used on strong breeds like Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, and some other big breeds. This should only be used as a last resort if your dog isn’t responding to other training collars.
Now that we know our different collars, now how to we train them to walk next to us? There are a few different techniques. The first is a lot of correction. Whenever the dog pulls ahead, you pull them back to walk next to you. You can use a word like ‘heel’ for your dog to learn that that means they walk next to you. Another technique is positive reinforcement. This is a bit tricky, but it makes sense. You praise the dog when it is walking next to you, giving it praise and maybe even a treat. If the dog pulls ahead of you, you turn around to go the other way. This is showing the dog that they aren’t getting to go where they want and that you are in control. Make sure you praise your dog when you turn around so they know they are doing something right.
It may be hard to get your dog to walk next to you, but if you try hard enough, you will be able to achieve the goal of walking your dog on a loose leash.
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