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WWM Online Training Courses
Important Details Regarding the Leash
Let’s face it - dogs would rather be off leash than on leash. The leash restrains a dogs ability to move around freely and do all the doggy behaviors they want to do. But reality is that they have to learn how to walk nicly on leash. Not only are there leash laws, but dogs are not aware of all the dnagers and the leash keeps them safe and out of trouble. Freedom is a privilege, and a dog must earn the git of being able to be off leash. They must make the right choices. They must listen to you no matter what. They must have good focus and solid impulse control. An off-leash dog that doesn;t listen and does what he or she pleases is a menace and a problem; for their owners for others (people and dogs), and for themselves. So we must work and put in the effort to teach good leash manners and make positive associations with the leash so your dog does well. The leasson on this page help you do just that.
Tips for Walking With Manners
No matter what your starting point is with your dog with walks, you will find super valuable information and training in this course. But before you begin, it is important to be prepared for training and have some handy tips available so that you start off on the right foot, and paw.
These tips are for puppies and young dogs just starting out with walking-on-leash skills. There are no bad habits that have been developed, so you have a clean slate to work with.
These tips are for dogs that do kinda well, but need some help to fine tune certain leash skills and environment skills. The adjustement that need to be made are minor, but importnat to make the walk much more enjoyable.
WE NEED A DO-OVER!
These tips are for dogs that have a big overhaul needed for walks to be enjoyable. These are dogs that have bad habits or are environmentally distractible so walks are a chore and not fun.
THE BEGINNING STEP - INSIDE FIRST!
MINIMIZE DISTRACTION, OPTIMIZE CORRECT CHOICES
The key to building a solid foundation is to establish the mindset that there is only one choice - to come to you.
Lessons in this section:
- Leash Games
- Drag It
- Movement Games On Leash Inside
- Out and About (Movement Games)
- Giving In to Leash Pressure
- Target Walking
- Clip Unclip
- Double Leash Game
Using a standard buckle collar for walking is fine. If you would rather use a harness, which I highly recommend, here is some good information for you.
I like using harnesses best because nothing is attached to the neck, which is safer. When fitted properly, it is harder for a dog to slip out of a harness than a collar. Not all harnesses are alike. For a little puppy, just a soft and comfortable harness that clips on the back is fine. As your puppy grows, you will need to purchase a larger harness and one that is not only comfortable, but easy to put on, one that does not put undue pressure on the shoulders, and also has versatility and a good fit.
You have no idea what your dog might develop as far as behavior when out and about on a leash. Often times, pulling will occur at some point. Back clip harnesses don't help with pulling (and can actually give the dog leverage to pull), and even though as a puppy your dog doesn't pull, behavior can change with developmental stages. My recommendations for harnesses are at the bottom.
I use the Freedom No-Pull Harness with all my dogs. I've had this harness for a long time and have been very happy. It doesn't provide as much freedom of movement through the shoulders as other newer harnesses that are recommended below, but the numerous adjustment points give me options for a good fit and provides a dual-clip option (back and chest). I also like the slip loop on the back attachment which not only gives a tactile cue for pulling, but also helps to minimize the capability of a dog slipping out of the harness. If you fit your dog closerto the max range for the size mharness, the strap around the chest will be extended further out, and the chest straps that connect at the shoulder will be higher for better range of motion. Just a little tip, and why I recommend waiting until your puppy has grown a bit so you can optimize the fit of your harness.
NEVER usea slip collar (choke chain), prong collar, or e-collar (shock collar) on a puppy. These punitive tools can cause lifetime damaging emotional effects on a young puppy. There is talk about how harnesses can cause limited range of motion. And this is very true with certain styles of harnesses. They are not created equal!! I recommend you go with a double attachment harness that clips at the front and on the back, and a style that offers a freer range of motion through the shoulders. Here is a link to my favorite harnesses, including theone that I use with all my dogs (yes, I know 2 are from the UK).
This is the one that I use with my dogs… Freedom No Pull Harness
When our pups getolder, they also get bigger and stronger. Pulling can become a challenge with an older pup that is filled with excitement and energy. Additionally, focus and calmness are still a work in progress, as is disengaging. When we are a bit “out-matched” by our dog, additional tools can be helpful to gain better control and allow for success in the training so the concepts can be learned. Head collars, built like a bridal for a horse, are a useful way to maintain control over an older pup or dog without using pain and punishment which inhibits behavior, but does not address skills, concepts, and the emotions that are attached to the behaviors (the root of it all!).
Head collars are not built the same. I recommend purchsing one with these features:
- barrel clip under the chin (or your dogs will chew the straps)
- side straps to keep the nose strap more centered on the face
- padded nose strap is a good bonus.
Head collars can’t just be placed on your dog and they are ready to go. You must help your dog desensitize or get used to wearing the head collar. You must go through a process to create positive associations with the new tool. This is also why I do not use a head collar on a puppy that is younger than 6 months of age. Please talk with me or your trainer about using a head collar first.
Harness Shaping Game
CONFIDENCE, OPTIMISM, CALMNESS, FOCUS, ENGAGEMENT
Typically most dogs will take to a harness fairly easily. But, as I am always proactive in my training and want to ensure good associations with any tools I use with my dogs, here is a fun game to get your dog used to a new harness.
Leash Work and Games
FOCUS, ENGAGEMENT, IMPULSE CONTROL, RELATIONSHIP
It is important to desensitize your puppy to equipment like collars, harnesses, and leashes, and to make putting them on and taking them off "no big deal."
You want your puppy to be able to ignore these tools and be comfortable with them so that they can concentrate on you - learn from you. Missing this step can lead to the dog chewing apart a harness or playing tug with the leash.
Start with a collar - any nylon clip collar or leather buckle collar fitted to the size of your puppy works great. Put the collar on, as shown in the video, leave it on while you play with your puppy and train. Then take it off. Do this off and on throughout the day, leaving it on longer and longer until it can be left on.
You will periodically throughout the day, hook the leash to your pup, and then keep him/her busy to help your puppy ignore the leash. Do this during playtime!!!! Let it drag while you play with your pup. If your puppy does grab the leash, get him/her to let go of it by placing something far more enticing in front of the nose - like food. Remember to use kibble as much as you can! Your pup will drop the leash to eat the food. Then keep your puppy busy with play or simple cues she knows and lots of rewards. Long tug toys work great for this, but use anything you have that will easily redirect a pup from the leash.
Do not leave a harness on your puppy! It will get chewed; it's only a matter of time. Even during adolescence, take the harness off! Trust me - I speak from experience!
If you are concerned about leaving a collar on all the time and that it could get caught on something, you can take it off when you don't need it, especially when your puppy is in a crate or ex-pen. There are also quick-release collars like the PetSafe Keep Safe Break-Away Dog Collar that you can also purchase.
When you begin holding the leash, your job is to practice not holding the leash tight or pulling the leash. The leash does not guide or steer your puppy in any way. It is also not there to make your puppy do a behavior! No pulling the leash to make your puppy get closer to you! The leash is a tool to keep your pup safe, preventing "taking off" or wandering away, and a prompt- to let your dog learn to release pressure when at the end of the leash.
This video takes you through a few steps to get your puppy accustomed to these essential tools and makes it fun for both of you. You will play games and practice the foundation cues your pup has learned so far.
It is also a great way to get your dog or puppy used to a long line, which you will use for training of cues and behaviors in the future.
As with everything you teach your pup, you will start inside, and once your dog is consistent there, take it outside and practice there.
Giving In to Leash Pressure
OPTIMISM, CALMNESS, DISENGAGEMENT, PROXIMITY, THINKING IN AROUSAL (RELATIONSHIP)
One of the main causes for leash reactivity is frustration - frustration that tension on the leash restrains a dog and prevents them from achieving what they want or need in that moment. Leash jerks and constant pressure on the leash builds tension in a dog. Hence, it is very useful to teach your dog that when they feel pressure on the leash, they should find a way to get closer to you. That can be stopping and waiting for you to “catch up”, or to turn and return to you. This lesson will help you to teach your dog that pressure on the leash is not a negative consequence but a cue to get closer to you. Through positive reinforcement by learning how to react appropriately, your dog will learn how to make a great choice when the leash gets taut.
Movement Games: On Leash and Outside
CONFIDENCE, AROUSAL UP/DOWN, FOCUS, ENGAGEMENT, PROXIMITY, IMPULSE CONTROL, THINKING IN AROUSAL (WALKING WITH MANNERS, LOOSE LEASH WALKING, RELATIONSHIP)
Continue playing your Movement Games inside off-leash at every opportunity when your puppy is out of the crate or ex-pen. When given more freedom to roam in a room, supervision and training has to take place, because your puppy is learning and making choices constantly. Make sure that those choices are the ones you want and support your efforts in raising a well-mannered dog.
No cues! Capturing gives you a variety of behaviors you can mark and reward rather than just one, like with a cue. Frequent reinforcement is necessary for puppies! Games are flexible and allow for a variety of correct responses which helps your puppy be more successful and enjoy training and paying attention to you.
You are now going to add to your movement games and create various scenarios for your puppy to work through. You are going to play it on leash, and teach your puppy how to continue to move with you like in the game when off-leash. You are also going to continue your efforts in teaching your puppy to ignore the leash.
In the beginning, your puppy may jump or nip - which you will respond by taking fewer steps, slower movement, and capture good behavior sooner. If the jumping happens, but then your puppy catches herself and offers a better choice, reward it. That is the beginning stage of learning.
Over time, you will begin to change the expectation (called raising criteria) and only mark and reward when the absence of any undesired behavior happens to prevent "behavior chains" that involves an unwanted behavior followed by the correct response.
Remember to build up to a faster and more unpredictable movement over time. Typically where the difficulty lies is when your pup is more excited or in the morning when the "battery is full."
Once your puppy is doing well with off-leash and on-leash scenarios, you are going to take the game outside. This is a whole different ballgame! Outside is much more interesting and distracting. YOu have a lot more to compete with, so this is where you will need to up your game. This is where having frequent opportunities to mark and reward multiple behaviors is going to make the difference! This is where you might also need to mix in some higher-valued rewards to boost motivation and improve some focus.
Walking With Manners (WWM) - Movement Exercises Foundation
Inside: Off-Leash and On-leash
CONFIDENCE, FOCUS, WALKING WITH MANNERS, IMPULSE CONTROL
It is called "Foundation" because you will use your foundation cues (Following a Lure, Sit, Touch and Look) to teach the primary behaviors needed for walking with manners. This has more rules than the Follow Me/Movement Games.
Structure and clarity first! You are building the foundations for Walking With Manners.
Walks require proficiency in a multitude of behaviors and concepts. In the Movement Games and Exercises you are:
- Teaching a preliminary skill for walking nicely on leash.
- Reinforcing proximity and a loose leash
- Supporting recall and orientation
- Building focus
- Encouraging good manners
- Strengthening your relationship
You can't go wrong!! It's just that awesome!
You will use this exercise to utilize cues to teach your puppy how to do foundation behaviors (Sit, Look, Touch) in the heel position (at your side).It also helps some puppies learn how to give eye-contact while moving and not auto-sitting to look up at you.
This is how you can teach your puppy to move with you when you are walking. You canuse Following a Lure to help, as well as use it to guide your puppy through turns and get your puppy to your side.
This also builds your puppy's ability to build focus by incorporating a Premack (release) cue. Sniffing around is important and so your puppy will need breaks to be a puppy. Utilize your relase cue so it is clear when you want focus, and win your puppy can have fun "mucking around."
Does the side matter? Not unless you plan on competing in Rally or Obedience competitions; then you will choose the left side. Otherwise, you can choose either side.
Make sure that your puppy has really mastered the first stage before moving on to the next. This video is not created to be completed in one day or even one week. The time it will take for your puppy to learn the appropriate behavior will depend on his individual drive, the energy level at any given moment, how far you and your puppy have come with basic movement games, your timing with cues (eliminating undesired behavior before they happen), the frequency of reinforcement for appropriate behavior, and utilizing Premack.
Now, take the Movement Exercises Foundation and put it on leash. Here you will require even more structure because staying on one side will be even more important. But, your pup also needs to learn how to follow you not only when you are walking in a straight line, but also when turning and moving about. If your pup is having trouble ignoring the leash, refer back to your Leash Work videos and Movement Games On Leash.
A NOTE ON "DOG WALKS..."
Taking a dog fora walk is a complex activity. I know it doesn't seem like it, but for a little puppy, who is just a baby and not able to filter out all that is going on around him, walks are stimulating andcomplex. Attention span and the ability to stay focused is limited in puppies, as are the skills needed for nice, successful and enjoyable walks. Don't expect too much too soon. Build the skills first in your puppy with the videos I'm sending you.
Puppy nipping at feet? Go back and continue to play Follow Me, Using a Tug Toy, and Orientation Games and focus on the Sit and Look cues. Get your puppy's focus up and away from your feet! Whenever your pup looks at your feet, cue a Look and get that focus back on your face. Take fewer steps and stop, cuing the Sit to stop the nipping before it starts. Keep arousal levels lower and reward good behaviorssooner and more often. Make training time short and sweet to avoid frustration.
Walking With Manners (WWM) Out and About
CONFIDENCE, FOCUS, ENGAGEMENT, DISENGAGEMENT, PROXIMITY, IMPULSE CONTROL, TOLERANCE OF FRUSTRATION, THINKING IN AROUSAL, RELIABILITY (WALKING WITH MANNERS, LOOSE LEASH WALKING, RELATIONSHIP)
Now it is time to take the structure of the Movement Exercises and practice it outside. I call it "out and about" rather than walks because puppies are unpredictable and inconsistent, and walking takes a ton of skill and focus - something puppies just haven't fully developed yet. So you will do this in your yard and in clean, safe areas outside of thehome. You may accomplish a little walk, you might get a good amount of practice done, but realize that your pup will have good days and not so good days and that is normal.
This is not about getting from point A to point B. This is not about how far you go. This is about what you do with the time spent. This is about teaching those necessary behaviors and concepts that are vital for successful dog walk in the future. Quality over quantity! Building focus - staying on task and lengthening the attention span takes time!
Your puppy is not fully vaccinated yet!! Even though after the second series your puppy is pretty safe, be smart! Be careful!! Take your puppy on surfaces that you can see are clean and dry - concrete, sidewalks, hard surfaces. Still no public parks on the grass, no tan bark, no gravel, no dirt paths where animals roam, or places where dogs frequent and may relieve themselves. NO DOG PARKS! Still no walking in pet stores.
Be sure to give your puppy breaks to sniff and explore. Practice releasing your pup (Premack - and more with Premack is in Levels 2 and 3) and begin teaching the principle of "Listen to me first and then you get to do something fun that you like."
Play your structured games while you are out so that your puppy learns how to handle new environments, work through distractions, choose proper behavior and focus on you. Practice Attention Cues (Name, Pup Pup Recall), DMT, Pick Me! (Proximity Game), Orientation, and your Foundation Cues (Touch,Sit, Follow a Lure, and especially Look) on the road.
Stay close to home! You don't want to be too far when your puppy gets tired (mentally or physically) or frustrated. Breaks, on permission by using your release cue, and give your pup the full length of the leash to explore, sniff, and get any wiggles out are a necessity, but eventually your little pup will be mentally spent.
These are the games that you will be playing with your puppy while you are out and about to practice all the skills and concepts needed for Walking With Manners:
- Follow Me (inside, outside, on leash, offleash)
- Movement Exercises Foundation (with cues Touch, Sit, Look and also Following a Lure)
- Orientation Games
- Attention Cue Pup Pup Recall
- Name Recognition
- Pick Me! Game (proximity game)
Orientation On Leash
CONFIDENCE, FOCUS, AROUSAL UP, DISENGAGEMENT, ENGAGEMENT, PROXIMITY, (WALKING WITH MANNERS, LOOSE LEASH WALKING, RELATIONSHIP)
There are a number of variations on orientation. Do each one of them! By breaking this behavior down into various steps and creating reliability with each one, this behavior will be automatic for real life situations down the road! I can't stress enough how important this simple behavior truly is!
Now we’re are expanding on the Basic Orientation Game and puttingthem on leash and out and about. It is important to generalize the behavior so your dog gets used to offering it while on leash (to support loose leash walking in the future) and when working recall and dealing with distractions down the road.
This step is crucial to your route to success! How wonderful is it going to be if you have a dog that automatically turns to you when she gets to the end of the leash? Or when she gets a little too far away and automatically comes back to you? Or she sees or hears something interesting, or exciting - a high value distraction and instead of trying to go to it, she goes to you instead? This is part of the solution - orientation games - for all of these scenarios.
CONFIDENCE, FOCUS, PROXIMITY, AROUSAL UP, ENGAGEMENT, DISENGAGEMENT, IMPULSE CONTROL, RELIABILITY (RECALL, WALKING WITH MANNERS, RELATIONSHIP)
This variation of Orientation Games combines with Proximity Games to build proper behavior habits with leashed or off-leash walks and hikes. It also allows your dog to enjoy the activity and be a dog without losing focus on you. Ensure your dog develops good habits with orienting to you, orientating away from distractions, catching up to you after falling behind because something caught their attention, and remaining closer to you in general.
This is a great game to play in your yard, to teach your pup how to follow you and keep you in his/her mental picture. It is also great for perimeter work for out front or unfenced areas. Use a long line fro prevention and safety purposes. Long line should always be attached to a harness at the back.
This also gives you an opportunity to practice a loose recall "Let's go."
Loose Leash Walking (LLW)
CONFIDENCE, FOCUS, PROXIMITY, ENGAGEMENT, DISENGAGEMENT, IMPULSE CONTROL, THINKING IN AROUSAL (WALKING WITH MANNERS, RELATIONSHIP)
Having good leash manners is important. A dog that walks nicely on a leash is walked more often than a dog that does not. Teaching good leash manners is a long process. Aussies are high energy dogs and love walks, but it can be a challenge to teach them how to walk without pulling. Your Aussie puppy may quickly learn to walk near your side, but soon lose those manners once he enters adolescence. People in general walk too slow! There are many steps to take in order to teach leash manners, and many waysto teach your dog about the end of the leash. This video gives you a few techniques to experiment with so you have a variety of strategies to utilize.
STEP 1: EQUIPMENT CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE
Always check your puppy's collar and harness to make sure the fit is right. Puppies grow fast! Also check to make sure that you clip the leash to the "D" ring on the harness securely.
If your puppy is starting to pull hard, and you are uncomfortable, it’s time to replace the puppy harness with one that will help you better in your loose leash training. I highly recommend getting one with a two-point attachment (back and chest) and one that allows freedom of movement throughout the shoulders. (See Harnesses on the L2-Topics page)
Walking your dog with the leash attached to a collar or harness is your choice - but you must train and teach your dog how to keep a loose leash for the safety of your dog, for your dog's health and well-being, and for your comfort, too.
NEVER use a slip collar (choke chain), prong collar, or shock collar on a puppy. These punitive tools can cause lifetime damaging emotional effects on a young puppy and sensitive adolescent.
STEP 2: KEEP TRAINING THE BASICS
Revisit your Movement Exercises Foundation and WWM Out and About videos to initially train your puppy about walking next to you. Be sure to never pull or steer your puppy with the leash. This can cause her to resist and not move - kicks in a natural opposition reflex. The leash's purpose is to give your puppy a certain vicinity around you to remain in - not tophysically move her. These games can be played on and off the leash, and at home so continue to build necessary skills for walking with manners without the added distractions.
Step 3: LLW - TRAINING WALKS
When out and about and working on LLW techniques, keep training sessions within your puppy's ability to stay focused without frustration, and then release your puppy out to sniff and explore. Then call her back in again and work some more, and then release her again. As she gets older and develops a longer attention span, your working sessions can get longer and longer before you Premack to free choice. It is important to give your puppy breaks - use a Premackcue!!! Walking with manners is tough and takes concentration - something a puppy has in limited supply!
Enjoying the walk needs to be for both human and dog. Sniffing is part of the enjoyable experience for the dog. But sniffing is within reason. Your limit to sniffing is up to you, but some should be allowed. That can be while you are woking or only on breaks. But never let your dog pull you to sniff something or your are rewarding pulling!
Have realistic expectations for puppies! They are still learning about their world around them and sometimes switching sides or zig-zagging can be coping mechanisms. Leash biting can be frustration.
Your goal is to teach your puppy how to walk nicely on leash, keeping the leash loose. This is not heeling. Your dog can be alittle in front, to the side or behind, on your left or right side.
Remember... QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
I refer to this as Out and About for a reason - because a dog walk requires advanced skills. Your puppy is in kindergarten! So your out and about time, training walks so to speak, are practicing all the skill necessary for nice walks in the future. Now will not be about a destination or so many miles. I never venture far from the house walking a puppy. I don't want to be stuck far from home when the puppy decides she's done and is now having temper tantrums and we still have to get home!!
Walks Look Like This...
- Start with your pup at your side, sitting and looking at you (cue if needed)
- Step off and say "let's go." Note which hand the leash is in (see video). If "Let's go" gets your puppy to excited, don't say anything. You starting to walk will be the visual cue to go.
- Start and stop and practice focus - cuing Sit, Look, Touch and using Following a Lure when needed. Go for a short distance, like mailbox to mailbox , etc., utilizing the various LLW games.
- Stop, cue a Sit and a Look (if needed) and the release (Premack) and allow your puppy to sniff around and have a break. Give your puppy the entire length of the leash and follow her.
- When it is time to start again with structured walking, stop following your puppy. Stand still. This is now an orientation game on a leash. Wait for your puppy to orient back to you and mark and reward. Play additional orientation on leash games or Pick Me! games. Or maybe a proximity zone game. Teach your puppy it is fun to focus on you and that it is a big part of the outside experience.
- Bring your puppy back to the heel position (Finish, Touch, Follow a Lure... any will work)
- Have your puppy Sit and Look, and start again...
Walks need to be fun for your dog - it is important to break up the monotony of just walking with breaks and with games! And sniffing is a must!
Exercise with structure is important and needs to be balanced with free play. Walking out and about is a great way to do exercise with structure. It is also good socialization. Remember to practice DMT and your Attention Cues/Sounds while you are out. Play Orientation Games andthe Pick Me!Game, but on a leash. Practice the Look cue while walking. Capture forward focus and still in the proper position in proximity to you with the Proximity Zone Game. All ofthese games support your efforts in walking with manners and loose leash walking.
FOCUS, DISENGAGEMENT, ENGAGEMENT, PROXIMITY, IMPULSE CONTROL, TOLERANCE OF FRUSTRATION, THINKING IN AROUSAL (WALKING WITH MANNERS, LOOSE LEASH WALKING)
An exercise for impulse control... and to stop pulling!This game really helps to nail down the concept of not pulling. Many dogs pull because it gets them to where they want to go, even if that means continuing to walk. So this game puts to test the concept of not pulling gets you want you desire. A simple exercise would be having the target be a piece of food. Tougher might be getting to a particular person or place. For my dog Echo, it was getting from the parking lot to the park where her doggie friends were waiting to play!