I thought I’d share the content of an email I sent as a follow up to a Leash Walking skills workshop we hosted here at our Canine Training Center in Miami, Florida. I hope you find the content helpful in understanding the difference between the tools we use and recommend to walk your dog!
Pull Mangement Tools:
Gentle Leader Head Collar — great for dogs who really pull, hard. They won’t teach your dog not to pull, but instantly give you the control necessary to just relax and enjoy a nice walk! Preventing your dog from rehearsing pulling IS an important part of the training process. Ideal for reactive dogs or dogs with fear or aggression issues.
Easy Walk Harness — great for medium to mild pullers. Preferable for young dogs (puppies under 6 months). By attaching in the front the easy-walk harness prevents dogs from being able to lunge forward as it shifts their forward momentum back to you whenever they try to pull. Also great for dogs who like to stall-out or pancake, so that you can keep moving forward without choking them if they decide to stop on you mid-walk.
Heel Training Tools:
Martingale Collar — This is what we call a limited slip collar. It’s less abrasive than a thin choke chain which can cause trauma to your dog’s trachea. We generally do not recommend any metal collars for training.
Slip Lead — This is my preferred tool for training dogs because it’s a one size fits all (size wise), it’s easy to put on and take off and is the collar and leash all in one. It’s not appropriate for dogs with fear or aggression issues. It’s important that you’re using appropriate training techniques when using a slip lead as to not choke the dog. If you’re using a slip and actually hear your dog choking you’re using it incorrectly!
- Always remember that when your dog pulls its because you’re allowing them to pull. Don’t be permissive, be PATIENT! If they pull, you just can’t go forward.
- If you feel like being lazy and don’t want to actively train, get a pull management tool to use when you’re not actively training
- Heel training is best done with a combination of positive reinforcement (treats while in heel position) and negative reinforcement (leash pressure for pulling). Dogs have to have a consequence for pulling, but that certainly doesn’t mean you have to be harsh. No matter what training tool you’re using you should never suddenly jerk on your dog’s leash
- Your dog needs to learn that tight leash means means NO GO and a loose leash means GET TO WALK! It has to be night and day between tight leash and loose leash, otherwise our dog will be confused as to how to achieve a loose leash
- Keep your pace up, dogs learn better when they get to move a little quicker (walking slow is boring if you’re a dog)
- Always verbally praise your dog. Don’t hold back, talk to them!
- Understand what motivates your dog (play, praise, food, playing with other dogs, sniffing, etc) and then use THAT to reinforce good leash skills
- No stopping and sniffing unless you’ve earned it 🙂