Loose Leash Walking - Pt 2

Be more rewarding

Both food rewards and toys can be used to encourage your dog to stay close to heel.

A small treat can be held concealed in your hand, just above the dog's nose as you walk along, encouraging it to 'Heel'. But make sure you give the dog the reinforcer every so often or he will think that you are just teasing him with the promise of food.

Similarly, a toy (perhaps squeaky or a tuggy toy) can be dangled in front of his nose as you walk to entice him to stay close.  Again, stop and let him have a brief play every so often.  If you need to, you can keep the toy as a special ‘Pet parent’ toy, and the only time the dog gets to play with “your” toy is when you are both out walking.  (Note that this will only work with a toy the dog actually likes).

Try an umbilical

Depending upon your size and balance, and the size and strength of your dog, you might want to consider teaching your dog to stay close by using the leash tied around your waist.  The normal 2m training leashes usually have a clip that allows you to do this, but you can also buy a waist belt to which you can clip one or more dog leashes - these are often used by those who take part in Cani-cross (ie cross-country running with your dog).  Having both hands free makes it easier to manage toys, lures, rewards and give hand signals to your dog, and prevents you being tempted to jerk the lead as a correction.  Furthermore in my experience, for some reason it encourages the dog to keep the leash slack and thus stay closer to you.  Make sure you don't give the dog a lot of slack - the amount of leash left if you clip a 2m training leash around your waist is ideal.  The more leash they have, the more speed they can build up if they decide to take off, and you could be pulled over, or suffer a back injury.

Walking Off-Leash

If your dog is walking with you off-leash, the techniques described above in Be Unpredictable and Be more rewarding can also be used.

However, if your dog spots something that is likely to be more rewarding than a treat hidden in your hand - like another dog and thus the chance of a chase (which is in itself very rewarding) - then you need to offer a reinforcer even more rewarding than the chance of a chase.  When you see its head go up as it spots another dog, you can offer it a chase PLUS a treat by catching its attention and rolling a treat along the ground just beside where you are - preferably in the opposite direction to the potential chase object.  The dog will chase and pounce on the treat, and you immediately throw another one, not far, just 2m-3m away.  Do this several times, heading away from the potential chase object and your dog will quickly calm down and come back under close control.  If you can throw the treat in to shortish grass so the dog also has to sniff it out - so much the better - and even more reinforcing (chase plus sniff plus treat).

As always, don't forget proofing.  Once you have a technique under control in one area, move to an area with more distractions and start again, then to another and so on until your dog will behave as you wish no matter what the environment.