Loose Leash Walking and all the problems it will solve

Loose Leash Walking & the problems is solves
by guest blogger Jenn Guerriero from Big City Dogs

As a trainer in New York City, I am constantly getting calls from clients to
help them solve their dog’s aggression toward other dogs while out walking.
Since the city is heavily populated and the sidewalks are pretty small, it
can be very dangerous to have a dog go ballistic when they see other dogs on
their daily walks. However, pick any day to observe a neighborhood with lots
of dogs and you’ll notice, on more than one occasion, outbursts of seismic
proportions. And yet, many (not all) of these dogs when they are taken off leash are
perfectly fine around other dogs…how can that be?!?!?

It’s actually quite simple. Most dogs that develop what we’ll refer to as
“leash aggression” have been taught inadvertently by their owners to act that
way. When a dog pulls away from their handler during the walk, the handler
usually pulls in the opposite direction causing the leash to be tight. Walking this way
doesn’t teach the dog to THINK about his/her walk or his/her handler, it just
makes the dog work harder at pulling. Now, throw in the site of another dog.
In a dog’s early stages of life, they want to pull towards other dogs as soon as they see one..there probably aren’t any ill intentions at this point. But every time the dog pulls harder to get somewhere he wants to go, the owner pulls back with equal or more pressure. This builds frustration in a dog and after doing this over and over, the dog
starts to associate other dogs with a hard pull on the leash. Of course owners start to anticipate this and start to tighten up on the leash at the sight of other dogs just to keep the dog in control. What they don’t know is that the slightest movement they make while holding that leash is sending communication signals to their dog, so with such a pronounced movement it sends an even bolder message (albeit, the wrong message).

This is where we teach Loose Leash Walking. It’s not the cure for aggression,
but it certainly does alleviate a lot of problems. Once we teach the dog how
to walk next to us on a loose leash, and teach them to pay attention to US (the handler), the site of another dog won’t be such a trigger for the dog any more. I don’t necessarily want to ignore all dogs while out walking since it’s important to keep a dog socialized, but I don’t want a dog to think the site of another dog is his/her cue to pull. Instead, I like to put the greeting of another dog on cue by teaching “SAY HELLO”. This gives the dog permission to go to the other dog and check them out. The handler must remember when the dog is going to approach another dog, they should keep the leash loose offering no stress or tension. Many are amazed at the difference it makes in their dogs when they practice this loose leash walking. It’s simple, not easy so if you do need help with this, try to contact a canine professional in your area www.dogpro.org

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Interested in being a guest blogger? Email blog at bigpawdesigns dot com
All articles are  propery of Big Paw Designs  and not to be republished without permission.  View more articles at www.BigPawDesigns.com

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6 comments

  1. Should you start practicing this before walking in public?…ie: back yard? Shamu pulls either with people or dogs…but he really isn’t an aggressive dog, though.Hasn’t ever bitten, etc. Would probably run and hide! lol

  2. Very interesting! Thank you for the breakdown of how a dog develops bad manners on the leash.I am fostering a Min Pin who will not walk on the leash. He will buck and “put the breaks on” and will slip right out of the harness.Any tips on how I can get him to walk on the leash? I hate to adopt him out with this issue. He seems more afraid (and spoiled) then anything. I don’t think he was ever walked on a leash before.Thank you!

  3. uought2b.a.dog – It’s always best to teach something in a distraction free environment, but walking is something that should mastered everywhere so try to get out and practice. Your dog might not be aggressive, but if he takes his cue from everyone OTHER than you, you could find yourself struggling on every walk. If you have to, start with treats to get him to look at you and then slowly phase that out (you certainly don’t want a dog dependant on the treats only). Also, don’t walk in a straight line…make some quick turns so the dog has to pay attention to you and catch up to your side..when he gets there..PRAISE HIM. Make him THINK on his walks.Jennifer – Many dogs will battle the leash, but it’s up to you to show them that there is no way around it. In our society, dogs must be leashed so they have to get used to it pretty quickly. If you give in, he learns to put up a fight whenever he FEELS like doing something that you might need or want him to do. You don’t have to strong arm him, but you need to show signs of Leadership..Calm, Cool and Collected..matter-of-fact..THIS IS HOW WE WALK!!! Remember this…MOTION causes MOTION. Don’t stress..don’t yell..just keep a slow, steady pace face foward. If you stop and turn toward him you send a signal to him that he can in fact put the breaks on. Hope this Helps!! PS Try to give him more structure and discipline, don’t give in to his wants and needs…make him work for things like your attention, or his food. This will build a bit of confidence in him before you try to adopt him out. If you want to reach me directly, feel free to visit my website!Cheers,Jenn (Big City Dogs)http://www.bigcitydogs.net

  4. Thanks! I do walk him and make the quick turns. He does good, as long as no one is around! Ha! Then he kicks into that herding mode. I will definitely try the loose leash, I haven’t done that. Thanks, again!

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