Loose Leash Training – In Practice

Loose leash walking is one of the most valuable skills you can teach a pup. And pure positive-reinforcement training is the best way to teach that skill. In theory.

In practice, training is often a bit more complicated.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, chicago, adventure

Or in Penny’s case, a lot more complicated!

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, chicago, adventure

Penny is an action-junkie. From her first day home she always had to be wherever the action was – irrespective of leashes and training

When there’s no action, Penny happily strolls by my side. But if we see a squirrel or birds or other pups, Penny is desperate to charge forward. She craves action above treats or praise, so traditional positive reinforcement markers aren’t effective.

In our case, I’ve had the most success by modifying my training to fit my pup. Rather than engage Penny with positive-reinforcement cues, I disengage from the situation by putting the pups in a firm “stay.”

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, chicago, adventure

A sitting pup is a well behaved pup. If there’s no walking, there’s no pulling

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, chicago, adventure

And you can see how desperately Penny wants to pull into the fray of the dogs she’s spotted across the street

 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, chicago, adventure

I let Penny coil up her excitement in a play-bow, as long as she stays in place

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, chicago, adventure

Finally, as the dogs pass, Penny regains her (limited) sanity and we walk on to the beach

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, chicago, adventure

Where my little wild child can romp off-leash to her heart’s content

For me, my experience with loose-leash training Penny is another reminder we should always modify training and care to our individual dogs – not the other way around. What works in a textbook isn’t always what works in the real world.

Knowledge of positive-reinforcement techniques is invaluable, as is the lesson to know when you need to modify those techniques.

For Penny it’s loose-leash walking, but each pup has their own challenges. Have you ever had to modify traditional training/techniques to better suit your dog?

22 Comments

Momwithoutpaws is glad she taught me loose leash and always on the left. Even when we are walking on the property I stay on her left. She always knows where I am

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