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naturalpet
PoliTe
“Dogs don’t come speaking
English, and they don’t read
LEASH WALKING
minds. Communicate less with
your voice and more with your
body (like dogs do), and your
by erica pytlovany
dog will understand you better.”
~ Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.
A
re you walking your
Penalty Yards: When your dog starts to pull toward some-
dog, or is your dog
thing, stop movement in that direction and go backwards.
walking you?
Depending on the dog’s level of excitability, take two or
A dog pulling on a leash
three steps, or up to 20 feet, in the opposite direction.
is a common, but curable
This is useful when your dog is pulling toward a
problem. You can teach your
specific target (another dog, a favorite bush, the swimming
dog how to walk politely on a
hole). You are letting the dog know that pulling gets him
leash, using firm, positive ap-
the opposite of what he wants. You also are increasing the
proaches. Even 8-week-old puppies
distance between him and the exciting thing, which helps
can learn; no special collar or tool is needed.
him gather his self-control. Once he stops pulling, he gets
to go see the dog or sniff the bush as a reward.
meThoDS
Zigzag and Circling: When your dog begins to pull, start
If your dog pulls and you take one step forward, you have
walking in a broad, zig-zag motion. Alternatively, curve
rewarded the pulling. The one consistent message your
off to the right or left, in a wide circle. This deflects some
dog learns in all of the following approaches is that pulling
of the pulling into a sideways motion and reminds the dog
does not get him where he wants to go. (Our trainers do
that, smart as he is, he doesn’t know which way you’re go-
not recommend employing leash pops and collar-jerking,
ing to go, so he’d better pay attention.
because of the emotional fallout that sometimes accompa-
nies these methods when performed improperly.)
Clicker and Treats: Using food can be a
highly motivating way for a dog to
Be a Tree: When your dog pulls on the leash, stop, as
learn polite leash walking. Carry a
though you are rooted in place. Do not take another step
pouch of pea-sized treats and use a
forward until the dog has released pressure on the leash.
clicker (sold at local pet stores), or
Your dog needs to learn that pulling equals stopping. Con-
pick a consistent word to say, like
sistency and timing help a dog learn quickly.
“Yes!”
One variation on this technique is to use a word or
Capture a moment that your
phrase to signal your dog that he is pulling and you are
dog is behaving the way you
going to stop. Speak in a happy voice, because you are
want and click or say “Yes!” Af-
not scolding; you are simply giving your dog information.
ter that, offer a treat. Your dog
Some use “whoops!” Others use “uh-oh!”
will associate the click
If, when you stop walking, your dog dances around
or the word “Yes” with
you in circles or runs to the end of his leash in every direc-
getting a treat and begin
tion, gradually shorten the leash until there is nowhere
to understand that the mo-
interesting left to go. This makes the wrong choice (ignor-
ment you click is the moment
ing you) boring for the dog, and it is much easier for him to
he earned the treat. Do not get
make the right choice, which is relaxing on the end of the
the food out until after the click.
leash, looking up at you.
22 Phoenix
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