Walking Nicely

I try to spend one of our daily walks giving Zeke practice in walking nicely on the lead, interspersed with free sniffing opportunities of course.

How does Zeke know what kind of walk we are having? Well, I communicate it through use of the lead. By clipping both ends of his lead to his harness, one at the top and one at the front. Then consistently and frequently rewarding him with squeezy cheese, or a tube of his newly favourite salmon pate, for eye contact and walking calmly by my side. I do have to keep changing up those high value rewards!

Once we reach a green space, Zeke will automatically sit for me to unclip the lead from the front of his harness, and he is free to mooch at his own pace across an open green space on the route. Unlike in the photo (where we are at the paw paddock), I don’t let him off lead on a local walk due to the roads and number of squirrels, and he is still overly excited at the sight of other dogs. There are far too many out of control people, with zero ability to recall their dogs, so we dodge those.

I believe the earlier you start loose lead walking the better, although, it’s never too late to start. I do admit it helps enormously to have a food motivated dog!

I will write soon on lead reactivity, as it can be complex with different causes and approaches. For now, if your dog struggles with seeing other dogs, work out the distance you need to maintain before your dog reacts. This is known as the ‘trigger distance’. Keeping outside of this distance is where your dog feels most comfortable, or safest, depending on the cause.

Until next time

Jen

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