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March 22, 2016

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

Comments for Loose Leash Training – In Practice

  1. you have the bestest pups ever and you worked very well with both furkids for stressless walking on a leash… you can wear flipflops… that says: bestest furkids ever :o)

  2. Very clever on your part. I’m afraid, Im a totally training fail and rely on Sam’s desire to please me rather than anything I can do to meliorate his actions.

  3. Emmadog says:

    I do loose leash real well, Bailie, not so much. She is also an action junkie. There’s a reason Mom’s arms are super toned and she has never attempted any type of weight training! Hopefully Bailie will mellow down as she matures. She has mellowed down already, and does perfect when she runs with Mom or if she is the only dog walking, but she loves to pull in all directions!

  4. Lisette says:

    We took all kind of classes with Kunya, puppy, junior… But then came Basic Obedience: treats were no longer allowed. I made sure my hands smelled after cheese and treats and thanks to her never ending food craving we passed the “heel” with flying colors :-)!
    Now at almost 10 she is the best at off leash ever!

  5. Kismet says:

    The peeps thought they were going to have to train Kali to use the doggie door. When they brought Kali in for training she immediately bolted out the door. Training done.

  6. I applaud you that you said “what works in a textbook, doesn’t always work in the real world” I try and have Dakota “sit” if he tugs when we are walking too and that seems to help. I love how you referenced Penny’s sanity as being “limited”, you crack me up!! Love that wild girl!

  7. coastingnz says:

    Well said. I think sometimes we can get too hung up on what books might tell us and sometimes it just comes down to trial and error and being aware no two dogs are the same….. similar in many aspects but certainly not the same.

  8. So true, dogs are all different so we have to train them according to what works for that individual dog.

  9. We discovered the Gentle Leader with Neeka when she was younger. She doesn’t need it anymore, so she gladly handed it down to Khoi. He doesn’t care for it any more than she did, but when he Wears it, he doesn’t pull. A slight tap and he’ll fall back to heel. Most of the time. Fleeing wildlife shut down the obedience part of the brain. I can’t wait for the day we can retire it. It’s hilarious when he goes nose first into a bush and tries to rub it off.

  10. Oh man Atlas is almost exactly the same way! Of course positive reinforcement is a great way to train learned behaviors but much less effective than those self-rewarding ones (i.e. walking nicely on leash and jumping on people, our two biggest challenges). In that case I prefer to think in terms of “disengagement-based training” (a term I made up just now…) much like you do. If Atlas does something undesirable, we move further away from the reward (the dogs or people he desperately wants to greet) until he calms down. Unfortunately this isn’t always practical like when a group of kids comes running at you…it’s still a work in process for sure! But if Penny can get there, I know Atlas will be able to, too! 😉

  11. fredrieka says:

    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

  12. Ogee says:

    Amen to adapting to your dog!

  13. great photos, and great sit Penny. We always have to modify our training with chessies, they have a mind of their own. Sorry took me so long to stop by, these pups have all my time.

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