A 2 Mile Loose Leash Walk To Be Proud Of

Wow. I am almost in tears of happiness right now. As many of you know one of my struggles with Zeke since adopting him over 4 years ago has been loose leash walking and specifically excited-reactiveness to dogs while on the leash. He is much improved over these years but is nowhere near perfect. Today, I’d say, we got there.

Over the winter I decided Zeke is an adult dog and I would really like to wean him off of his EZ walk harness. It was a life saver when we needed it and I’m sure there will be times when we will still use it. But he has improved to the point where it’s not really necessary and, hey, it gives us something to work on to switch back to collar walking. I’ve been doing Zeke’s early morning winter walks of about 15 minutes just using the collar. He is normally still sleepy at 7AM and we don’t encounter too many dogs or other distractions that early in the morning. I never used treats, just the old “stop” when he pulls forward and “continue” when the leash goes slack again. He has become very responsive, even self correcting by slowing down or turning towards me when he starts to pull. I was really proud when I noticed this.

The other day I read and commented on Paws Abilities wonderful blog post: Overzealous Greetings. It was a reminder, once again, that I should continue to actively work on Zeke’s reactivity to other dogs while out on a walk. Now that he is better with the collar/leash combo I decided to really test him. There were a few things I thought that might make him anxious or more reactive on the walk: he knew I had salami in my pocket, we walked at an unusual time & down unusual blocks. We haven’t really done a “training” style walk in a few months due to the weather and our increase in running together. But, out we headed in the direction of Juniper park.

I held the leash loosely, but short, allowing him to stop and sniff only when given permission. We walked briskly but calmly…the WHOLE mile to the park. I couldn’t believe it, he didn’t strain at the leash once! As soon as we saw some dogs at the park I stayed at a distance where I knew he wouldn’t go crazy and gave him salami pieces. Then we sat on a park bench for a few minutes. I occasionally treated him for sitting calmly. We saw some dogs at a distance & I again treated him. Then we started on the walk home. He got a little nervous during one block where a strange dog barked from behind a fence at him so we did a stop, circle and continued walking- with treats of course! Then we encountered a small dog around a corner coming to within 10 feet-possible reactive distance. Zeke didn’t react and I didn’t push it, we did another turn around and stop so he could get treats for calmly watching the dog cross the street. And then, we were home!

It was honestly the longest, most calm walk I think I have ever had with him- harness or collar walks included. It was just so nice. All it took was 3 slices of deli salami. And it really tired him out too, having to pay such close attention to me and remain calm- such concentration! I am really pleased and excited. We will need to continue with this type of training walk once a week. I will post with updates and maybe, just maybe, it is possible to have every walk be this calm and enjoyable.

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~ by manicivy on March 11, 2015.

4 Responses to “A 2 Mile Loose Leash Walk To Be Proud Of”

  1. Wonderful training! It sounds like your hard work is really paying off.

  2. Hard work eventually pays off! Well done!!

  3. Yayy 🙂
    This reminds me of a previous client I had, not the reactivity but being really chuffed after a calm, chilled training walk. I noticed you said you walked briskly, and I found that really helped us. Not rushing, but keeping a constant speed, if you walked too fast he’d start to pull, or too slow and he’d get distracted by smells/grass/rubbish etc. Plus, you have to be really in the zone yourself don’t you, and I found a nice brisk speed helped me focus, which in turn kept the dog calm 🙂

    • Yes! I think the even pace lets them know what is expected of them. no reason to anticipate what is going to happen next because its all the same.

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