Monday, January 10, 2011

The Ultimate Goal: Loose Leash Walking

While I love having a puppy, I have to say that puppy ownership does have its challenges. I think the thing that frustrates me the most right now is trying to teach Oscar how to walk on a loose leash. He's got a strong terrier nose and is constantly sniffing at anything and everything (and often trying to eat what he's sniffing, too, which doesn't help). We worked on loose leash walking in puppy class, but he hasn't really picked it up yet, which really means we haven't found a training technique that works yet. If I could give prospective new puppy owners a word of advice, I think it would be not to buy a retractable leash, at least until the puppy learns to walk well beside you. We started Oscar out on a retractable leash, which meant he could dash off wherever he wanted within a 6 foot radius. I definitely think that it helped to form a habit that's now pretty tough for us to break.

In puppy class, we learned the Back command, which is to stop and have the puppy come back beside you when he pulls. It didn't really teach him to walk on a loose leash, though. For whatever reason, he will now just stop and sit when we say Back rather than come back beside us and continue walking, even after we lure him back. This means that as soon as we call him back, he'll sit or stop, and then as soon as we move, he'll bolt ahead and yank at the leash. If we call him back while still moving, he just continues to pull. We've tried to use treats to guide him into the right position when walking, but even the good treats don't really keep his attention when he smells something interesting.

A handy trick that our trainer gave to us, which worked for a while but doesn't seem to when he's outside, is to walk with Oscar, and then as soon as he stops paying attention and tries to bolt off, we turn and walk the other way. That means that he has to pay attention to us as we walk. In class, it worked so well that when he was walking, he walked right into another puppy because he was looking straight at me. Walking outside is a whole other story, though. I think I'll try to go back to basics and work on this in the house where there are fewer distractions, and then try it in the backyard when he's consistent on the leash in the house. Maybe that will work!


Oskar said...

Oskar's mom person here. We didn't follow through on this & now Oskar is a big leash puller. We need to do some re-training this spring.

Catalina said...

Yeah Tibby has great loose leash walking INSIDE. Outside she is awful! There are too many exciting scents and people to chase. I suppose this means we need to work on focus. Boo. Focus is boring.

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