Monday, January 18, 2016

A Beautiful Walk In The Neighborhood...

Ah yes, the elusive Loose Leash Walking (LLW) behavior :). The one behavior everyone wants but has such trouble gaining!

I taught Rookie to walk between my legs as well.
This can help with loose leash walking :).

About 2 years ago (I can't believe it's been that long ago!!!) I did a series on the test items for the CGC test and covered LLW. You can find my LLW post HERE. I covered in that post the few different techniques I have used in teaching this behavior to my dog. I have since learned yet another! :)

Connect the dots is a lot like what I already do, but it gives you specific points to remember to reward at, which is always helpful!

Here are the steps:
Set up 12 or more 'dots' (whatever small objects you can use) in a straight line, about 4 feet apart. Practice this indoors or in the backyard (if you don't live in the midwest in January!) with minimal distractions. Try it without a leash too!!

  • Click as you approach the first dot. Stop, treat, then go on.
  • Click as you approach the second dot. Stop, treat, then go on. Repeat for remaining dogs, then turn and repeat the line of dots again.
  • Remove three dots from different parts of the line.
  • Repeat the exercise, cueing 'let's go' just before stepping forward toward the next dot.
  • Remove two more dots and repeat the exercise.
As you progress, set up your dots but space them irregularly. Once you are successful at several repetitions of that, add some MILD (let me repeat MILD) distractions, like toys or obstacles, on your dots course. Once you are successful at several repetitions of that (and remember to move around your dots as you do new repetitions), then begin practicing in slightly more distracting environments. I also like to change up what I am using as dots, and as you move into the 'real world' situations you can set your dots as landmarks (like mailboxes, or driveways, or trees, or hydrants, etc). You need to remember to introduce new distractions in a slow and controlled manner :). This is generally where people - exposing their dog to a high level of distraction and expecting too much duration between clicks.

As you make sessions incrementally harder keep these points in mind:
  • Do a quick warm-up by cueing 'let's go' and clicking and treating as the dog maintains a loose leash for 5 and then 10 pages, down the length of the room or around the perimeter.
  • When adding in distractions, watch for the instant the dog notices the distraction, and click and treat if the leash remains loose. You want to manage distractions at a level at which your dog can succeed.
  • Reward not just with food but sometimes with a few moments of play, or with permission to investigate a distraction (tell the dog 'go sniff' then stop and allow the dog to sniff and explore, or to pee :); repeat alternating between controlled walking and 'rest stops').
  • When you're increasing duration/distance, try to count steps and reward at 10, 20, 30, 40 steps, etc. But remember to alternate between fewer steps and more steps (don't always just make it harder!!).
The goal is to continue building the skill of loose leash walking in new environments, for a longer distance and duration, and in the presence of increasing distractions.

I will also give yet another source that I LOVE - Denise Fenzi! Yes, again :). Check out her post on LLW (she gathered some great techniques from quite a few sources). I love this excerpt from her post: 
Good luck! The name of the game with LLW is persistence. You mean it. You will not proceed forward if your dog is pulling. Before you head out the door, make a decision if this is a walk that you will manage pulling or a walk where you will train the skill of LLW.
Once you feel good about your LLW, don't get complacent! SLOWLY increase the challenge level for your dog. Start in your house! Can your dog LLW through your house, even there are other people there? Other dogs? Low value food on the counters? High value food on the counters? The trick to reliability is to add distractions, over time, and set your training up so that your dog will experience success. Remember, your dog has to learn what you want. Stay calm, positive and patient.
Just like a human child, they will get there but there are no shortcuts to training.
Monday is great for LLW but for heeling
(which is more precise) she's a forger!

How far are you in your training methods? Which method is your favorite? Tell me about your experiences!!


  1. I'm trying to work with heeling right now - Jax is a puller and he's going to really hurt me one of these days.

    1. The best advice I can give you - TAKE IT SLOW :). And split the behavior up into as many small steps as you can - be a splitter not a lumper!!