While I was waiting for my fellow car-pooler yesterday I did some random googling and came across this article/tutorial about loose leash walking. Most of the contents I had already read and thought I had tried, but something about they way they put things really struck a chord with me.
First we must break YOUR habit!
It is as much an ingrained habit to you as it is your dog. He cues you to take that step by putting tension on the leash and you dutifully obey. He has trained you to respond and you are fluent in the art of following his lead. You do it without thinking. He pulls without thinking.
So I took Kasey for what would have been a 20 minute length walk that took an hour to complete. Each time I felt tension on the leash I became “a tree,” as suggested in the article. He figured out quickly that if he circled back to my side, we kept walking. After he seemed to understand the relationship there, I gave it a name “too much.” He did great. Each time he got a bit distracted by a smell or another dog or something, I would have to bring him back into focus. The loose English Setter puppy certainly didn’t help, either! But for a 20 month old puppy and the first effort this concentrated in a while, I was very happy with the progress that we made.
I realized through trial and error that a lot had to do with the pace at which I was walking. When the lead was loose and he was walking nicely at a heel, I was subconsciously speeding up, which would make him go faster, which, in turn, would put tension on the leash. So when he was on a roll, I concentrated on my cadence, and keeping a nice even pace. We did better for longer periods of time after I figured that out.
I didn’t get to take Kasey out this evening, the daylight just went away too fast for me to get everything done. I’m disappointed in myself for that, but hopefully he won’t forget everything by tomorrow evening. He usually doesn’t.
One of my favorite parts of having Kasey is watching him figure things out on his own. He’s been most successful at behaviors he’s been taught that way and it’s really amazing to see him go through the process of elimination to find out what he did right, or what I was asking him to do. It’s rewarding for both of us.