Walk your dog with love: Three fun games to teach loose lead walking

Walk your dog with love: Three fun games to teach loose lead walking

One of the most common behavioural issues that guardians face is pulling on the lead. Unfortunately, due to the behaviour being reinforced for a long time, it can be a difficult behaviour to reverse and requires a lot of practise and patience. In all honesty, lead training isn't the most enjoyable type of training, but it's a necessary evil if you want to walk your dog with love without getting a bad shoulder. Nonetheless, lead training does not have to be dull, and this article will demonstrate why. We'll look at three games you can play with your dog to teach loose lead walking.

Magic Hand

Magic hand is a simple but enjoyable game for teaching you to walk your dog with love next to your side. It does, however, necessitate your dog catching treats, so expect hilarious fails until you are both well practised. So, you'll need a handful of treats to play this game, and for the time being, you can play with your dog off-leash. You can play this game both inside and outside.

Begin by showing your dog that you have some treats and enticing them to follow you. Drop one treat into your dog's mouth and then take one small step forward while your dog is by your side. 

To begin, you may need to drop the treat quite close to their mouth, which may require some practise before you can begin walking forward. Just be consistent and only drop the treats on the side where you want your dog to walk to heel. Also, we want your dog to be standing, not sitting, so if they are sitting, take a step forward to encourage them to stand, and then quickly drop the treat into their mouth while they are still standing.

When your dog is comfortable catching, you can practise walking in a straight line by taking a step forward every time your dog finishes the treat.

As your dog improves at the game, you should be able to walk in a straight line while your dog catches each treat. Begin changing directions and dropping treats to keep your dog in the heel position. At this point, they should be anticipating that standing in this position will result in a treat, so they should stay close to you.

When you believe your dog has mastered the game, put on their lead and harness and repeat the process. The game can then be moved to different environments to help you walk your dog with love by your side.

Drunk Walking

Everyone gets excited when they hear drunk walking. Although it does not involve alcohol, it is a fun game to teach you to walk your dog with love and improve their lead skills.

Drunk Walking is a concept game that teaches your dog that being by your side is a wonderful place to be. Pulling often occurs because the environment is so rewarding, so this game teaches your dog that being near you is far more rewarding.

To play this game, you'll need to have your dog off-lead in the garden and a hand full of very tasty treats. Begin by placing one treat on the ground and then taking three steps back while counting each one aloud. After that, place another treat on the ground and as you count to three, take another three steps in the opposite direction. Make sure you're moving quickly enough that you're walking away before your dog gets to the last treat you put down, but not so fast that your dog doesn't notice you put the treat down. Continue to play this game until your dog understands the rules.

Your dog should eventually become very quick at the game and eager to keep up with you. Once your dog is comfortable with the game's rules, try putting him on a long line and playing in different settings, such as your local park or field.

Shaky Waters

This amusing game is actually lead training for us, and it is an important part of your dog's lead training.

So to play this game you need to put on your dog's harness and lead and then carry a cup full of water, into your garden. You'll walk around your garden with that cup of water in the same hand that you're holding your dog's lead. The goal of the game is to keep as much water as possible in the cup. If you use the lead to pull your dog, the cup will spill, so you must rely on your cues and body language rather than the lead to encourage loose lead walking.

This may appear to be an odd game, but bear with it. Remember, a dog's lead is for safety, not control; however, one of the most instinctive reactions to a dog pulling is for us to pull back. Because of the term 'opposition reflex,' we become trapped in a battle with our dog of pulling backwards and forwards to keep ourselves steady. This isn't helping you learn and is causing you both frustration. However, not using the lead to pull your dog can be a difficult habit to break, which is why this game will be so helpful. It will assist you in becoming aware of how much you use the lead and will encourage you to use your cues, body language, and treats to re-position your dog.

Each game will help to teach your dog that being with you is a fun and rewarding place to be, and it will also teach you how to encourage desired behaviour through communication rather than force.

So, have fun while training, and you will soon notice a significant improvement and walk your dog with love with a loose lead.

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