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Controlled Walking

One of the most important things for your dog to learn is to walk on a leash without pulling.

This makes walking the dog much more enjoyable for both you and the dog. If the dog is pulling, walking is unpleasant and he gets walked far less often -- this makes him pull all the more because he needs the exercise even more. It’s a vicious cycle.

Never wrap the leash around your hand: you can get dragged in front of a car. Instead, put your thumb through the loop of the lead and close your hand around it. Use both hands together when you jerk the leash.

With a six foot leash on the dog, start walking in a straight line towards a point about twenty feet away saying nothing when you start. Whenever the dog is at your side, reach down and pet him while praising him. Otherwise say nothing. If he heads off in another direction back away from him, at the same time jerking the leash sharply towards you and praising the dog. When you reach the point you were aiming for stop for a slow count of twenty, then head off at right angles for another twenty feet again, saying nothing to the dog when you start moving. Continue this twice more until you have made one square about twenty feet on each side. (This has to be done away from trees and bushes that might tangle the leash.) This square should be repeated four times for one set. Do three sets a day, for a total of twelve squares a day. By the end of the week the dog should be walking without pulling. The reason for saying nothing to the dog when you start is so the dog learns to watch you. If you say something he won’t have to pay attention.

Never permit the dog to pull on the leash. The only exception to this rule while walking the dog in the square is if the dog starts to relieve himself. In this case, let him finish. The only thing more important than walking without pulling is housebreaking. The best way to avoid this problem is to take the dog to his “relief spot” before training him. Once the dog is watching you whenever you walk, and you can no longer catch him being distracted, start inventing distractions. Walk towards an open gate, or another dog, or a child. As soon as the dog takes his eyes off you, back away from him, jerking and praising, until you can no longer catch him looking away from you. At this point, teaching him to heel will be relatively easy, once he learns to sit.

If you have no place to do squares, do straight lines. Instead of going off at a right angle after twenty feet just turn around and head in another direction. The square is not magic, you just have to keep changing directions until the dog understands that he has to pay attention to you at all times.

If you have only sidewalk, then walk on the sidewalk. You may walk three feet, turn around, repeat, for half an hour. Your neighbors will think you’re crazy. But --- your dog will learn in a few days not to pull on the leash.

Remember that the dog is never permitted to pull on the leash. Ever. For the rest of his life.

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