For me, leashing means that my dogs run next to or in front of me without constantly hanging on the leash and thus making the walk a burden for me and for myself.
There are many approaches to how this can be achieved, and if you enter the line and the corresponding name on Google, you will also find a lot of videos.
To name a few of the more well-known names (without claiming to be exhaustive) that provide non-violent leash training, i.e. without a leash:
Dr. Ute Blaschke-Berthold, Clarissa von Reinhardt, Bina Lunzer, Miriam Cordt, Maria Hense, Monika Gutmann and Turid Rugass.
Why am I writing something about this now?
Well, it always looks great when dogs run so loosely next to their owners, it has to be easy, and should the dog really understand that he has so much more freedom than if he is always on a leash?
Well he will never get it if he is not taught it! And teaching him this is not always as easy as it looks.
I certainly don’t want to introduce a new method now, after all, I learned it using the methods of these trainers.
What I want to achieve is that one or the other, with whom it still does not work so well, may get a few pointers as to why this could be the case and what he might change or add.
First of all the equipment:
Training a pulling dog on a collar is a mistake. Quite apart from the possible health consequences, the dog constantly feels pressure on the neck that takes his breath away, so he tries to escape this pressure or lack of air, which only aggravates the situation.
Many dogs no longer pull as hard when they are guided on the harness and the leash is only a few centimeters longer. Even a large and heavy dog can be kept under control much better on the harness with a second leash attached to an additional chest ring than on a collar.
When and where and how do I train?
Like any training, you should work in small steps with as little distraction as possible.
For me, the training starts at home. If the dog walks loosely next to me, I have to confirm and of course also reward that he is behaving correctly, how else should he know?
The easiest way to do this is to use a marker signal such as the clicker or a marker word. The dog hears the marker signal, he knows he is doing it right and is getting a reward. It is therefore important that the dog is conditioned to a clicker or a marker word in the first step.
There are a lot of factors involved in whether a dog is leashed or not. The decisive factor for me is the mood or stress the dog is in.
If a dog is nervous or excited, jittery and therefore difficult or unresponsive or very easy to distract, it will never do anything.
At least I had to teach at least one of my dogs a bit of “rest”, I find the 10-treat game very suitable for this.
Here is an explanation with video: 10 treats game
The dog learns impulse control and I can control its position in front of or next to me.
Then I started training leash in the living room and before someone laughs: there is no distraction in the living room, so the dog can concentrate much better on me.
After we extended the training to the garden, the next step was to go to an empty parking lot, where nobody else was at the time, and to continue there.
I only went to the normal “gas slope” when I was reasonably certain that it would work.
Of course, it happens from time to time that a dog pulls. But that too is limited if you stay consistent:
Do not tug, jerk or tear, the dog will learn absolutely nothing!
An easy way to keep yourself in control:
get into the habit of keeping your elbows close to your body.
Since I distribute treats with the right hand, I only lead my three dogs with a total weight of more than 100 kg with the left hand and I e.g. have got used to always hooking the thumb of my left hand into my belt.
Jerking is simply no longer possible.
Now if one of the dogs pulls too much, whether forwards or to the side, I just stop. As soon as he orientates himself towards me, I mark and he can collect his reward.
Since I also work with different leash lengths, I have also introduced a line end signal for the tow lines so that the dog does not tear off my arm when it can take a 10 meter run-up. It slows down and stops on its own when the line is taut.
Another important signal for me is the announcement of a change of direction.
If a dog is immersed in sniffing or on a trail, he doesn’t necessarily have to notice that I have changed direction, so I support him by simply saying: “Dog name, this way.”