Puppy Training

Adding Distance to Loose Leash Walking

As your puppy training progresses and your puppy walks nicely for a certain number of steps, you can begin to add distance by rewarding every six to seven steps or more.  If you find your puppy is beginning to forge forward after a certain number of steps (say eight), reduce how many steps you take by one or two (back to six) so that you are able to reward your puppy before they forge.

Practice at this stage until your puppy is reliable (at six steps) then, add more steps to challenge your dog.

The most likely reason for the forging is due to lack of reward and the dog is getting frustrated so, they forge. Your dog is also telling you that he isn’t ready for that big of a jump in number of steps and he needs more work at the previous stage. Once you have practiced this for several days, move to either another room in your house or to your backyard. 

Again, keep the distractions and distance to a minimum. You may notice more pulling from your dog in this environment.  Embrace this and view it as, not a setback, but as an opportunity to enforce good loose leash walking position when it is obtained.

Once your dog is successful reliably here for a good number of steps, introduce a distraction (like another dog staying with its owner on one side of your yard or a child playing with your dog’s toy off in the distance). Practice walking toward the distraction and correcting the pulling and rewarding the loose leash walking.

Continue to add distraction and distance slowly as your dog is successful and when you decide to go for your first walk, keep it short and be consistent with your reward and penalty yards. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your dog will not be a polite walker in a day either. There will always be places that your dog will pull but if you never allow them to be rewarded, the behavior will eventually extinguish in all environments.

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