Fishing for a big one
Good morning; as I said yesterday I got an idea for my blog while driving home from the gym. I was sitting at a light; one that is just around the corner from home when a guy and his dog caught my eye to the left. It was a golden puppy, probably about 4.5 months old; of course adorable but acting very much like a fish caught on a line. The puppy was bouncing around grabbing his leash and tugging and the gentleman looked a bit frustrated. But it didn't last long and the puppy lost interest in the leash and moved onto other things.
This got me thinking about how many people deal with leash issues. It is very common for puppies to behave this way; one, they often baulk at having a leash attached to them and two it can be great fun having a game of tug of war with your guardian. It may be cute when they are small but it looses something as they get older and more obnoxious. Then of course there are the dogs who walk beautifully without tugging at all but just want to hold the leash in their mouth; typically goldens.
The big secret to walking your dog without getting into a tug of war is to reward them for not grabbing the leash. Just like anything else there is alot of treats delivered in the beginning and as they get better at walking without leash grabbing and as they mature the treats slowly reduce until there is only praise and the occasional treat for being an amazing dog.
The next important step is to not pull back; the second you pull, your in the game. This can be difficult because if you try the ignore routine and keep walking then you are pulling and again; your in the game. So you must have them drop the leash before you move out and reward them for not tugging. This may mean that you are not only going to be teaching them no leash grabbing but the drop command as well.
Once you have the drop you must reward and keep your dogs attention as long as you can. This stops them from repeatedly grabbbing, dropping, getting a treat. You may also want to add a few body boofs; this is when you move in pushing them off balance, sort of like you accidentally bumped into them just when they go to grab the leash. If it is annoying enough the association is created without them thinking that you are intentionally bumping into them.
Leash grabbing only gets worse if you don't address it and believe me you do not want your dog to be another fish story; "the big one that didn't get away."