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Leash Manners Part 2 Perfecting Good Behavior and Troubleshooting

Updated on October 7, 2013

Hopefully the steps in were helpful to you. In case you've lost your way, go back to the step you're good at and work it before you move on.

Here are some more helpful hints:

1. You have to think of the walk as your walk, and your dog is just there because you like him. He doesn't need to know that if you didn't have a dog you'd be playing Candy Crush on your phone and not walking around the block. So this walk needs to be earned as a reward for your dog. This means:

a. Get him to sit patiently while you put on his leash.

b. You decide when to stop to smell things.

c. Greetings with humans and other dogs are on your say.

d. You, because you are cooler than any other stimulus, are the main focus. [If by chance you are not that cool, you should work on that. You're supposed to be the best part of your dog's day.] Be more interesting than the surroundings.

2. If you are still having trouble with the proper grasp, tie a grannyknot where your hand should be on the leash. That will help you remember, and help keep your grip.

3. Keep the dog on one side of your body at all times. There is no need to switch sides to avoid having your dog on the traffic side. As long as you have control of your dog, your dog is safe on whatever side you have designated. But do keep them on a short leash next to heavy or unpredictable traffic.

4. Remember no jerking, and no yanking. Use the power of your voice to keep your dog moving forward. Make noises i.e. kissing/clicking/whistling/ swishing. I've got more random noises than Charo, and that works because dogs don't understand language; they understand dynamic tones. They get used to hearing the same tones over again, that's how they can come to "learn commands." Noises at different pitches can really get their attention. Unless you have some sort of hound, in which case, good luck. Make noises, get that attention back on you, and never anticipate the hesitation on a desired object, just keep truckin'.

5. If you've got a puller or lunger, do not keep walking in the direction they are pulling you in. Pulling on leashes is a learned behavior that you reinforce whether you know it or not. Every single time your dog pulls you toward an object, and you let him, you are saying, "Thank you, friend, I didn't know how freakin amazing that thing is, let's go see it right this second! You'll have to pull me to it all the time, because I'm forgetful." Just stop. Stop and be still until the pulling ceases, or turn and walk in the opposite direction. Get the focus back on yourself. Use noises, use "look" use "sit" whatever, just get the pulling to stop. Once the pulling is stopped you can continue your walk. However, if the moment you start back up again, the pulling starts back up again, repeat these steps, until you pass the desired object. This could take some time. If you don't have the time, and the things you needed to accomplish on the walk have been satisfied, call it a day. But you can't ever let the dog have what he is pulling you toward, because the first time you give in, he will learn that he only needs to pull you for this long before you give in because you are malleable. No pulling allowed!

6. Greet or do not greet other dogs. Socialization is a very important part of a dog's development. Encourage greetings with dogs on leashes attached to pet parents. Random loose street dogs, not so much. There needs to be a human for you to confir with. Always ask first. Some people have unfriendly dogs. Some people are snobs and don't want your excitable puppy near their precious fur baby. Whatever the case, ask first so there are no surprises. Also, too, if you encounter a person walking their dog who look like they are not paying attention, just keep walking. If something says to you, "this seems off" it probably is. Some things to remember:

a. Not all barking is aggressive. For some dogs, particularly smaller breeds, they need to use their voice to be noticed. Hackles raised, mouth drawn back and up, whale eye (ability to see a large part of the whites of a dog's eyes) are signs of aggression, proceed with caution.

b. Not all biting is aggressive. That is, dog on dog biting. It is NEVER ok for your (family) dog to ever put his teeth on human skin or clothes. But dogs learn bite inhibition from their peers. So playful nipping around the legs, tail, neck, and ears is expected. If your dog is being hurt, he will let the other guy know by yelping or moving away. Likewise, if it's your guy that's being too rough, he will pick up on the other guy's cues. That's how they learn. If you foresee injuries because they are both not backing down, or the biting is getting particularly ferocious around the neck area, take a few steps back and call it a day. They will learn that when they play like that, they don't get to play for very long.

c. Not all mounting is sexual. Mounting is a way for dogs to see who's dominant. If your dog is mounting a dog of the same sex, it's just a game, don't freak out. However if your dog is mounting or being mounted by a dog of the opposite sex, still relax it's just play, but just be sure that either everyone is fixed or that the female is not in heat. If by chance, the mounting is sexual and the female is in heat and the male still has his man-parts don't try to wrestle the dogs apart, you can injure them that way, make a very very loud noise (like a car horn) or spray water at them enough to break the males attention enough to get him to unjoin himself from her. Then... apologize... and check on that in 60 days... good luck with that.

7. Greet or do not greet people. Puppies need to meet 100 new people in the first 6 months. The more varied in size, race, and age the better. Encourage people to approach with a flat palm turned up, without reaching into the dog's space. The reason why is because this allows your dog to decide if they want to greet, to sniff first, and it shows your dog that they have nothing hiding in their hand like a treat. Also, it naturally encourages people to continue the greeting by touching your dog's body rather than going over the top of his head to pat. Dogs don't like it when strangers stick their hands all over their heads. Would you? It's unpredictable, it's unsettling, it can stress your dog out, and you don't want greetings to stress your dog out; you want all greetings to be positive. Do not let your dog jump up at all, even if you have a small breed. Dogs jump up for one reason, to get your attention. They see humans giving each other eye contact, and they often just want to be polite. Any interaction with a dog jumping up will reinforce the behavior. So if you want it to stop, do not give the dog what he or she is seeking. Obviously if you have a bigger dog, take a few steps back and calm him before he's allowed to greet. But if you have a smaller dog, and you think this person is not going to bend down to your dog, then you can pick him up, rather than he put his tiny cute little paws all over this person's legs. Don't let people hover over your dog or loom in a dominant way, that is stressful. Don't let people start using commands you haven't introduced yet. You might think that wouldn't happen, but you'd be surprised. Everyone thinks they are an expert and might tell your dog to "sit" or something else ridiculous before they will greet them. Commands are for you to say or give permission to saying. Take control of the situation and say bye to that weirdo.

8. If your dog becomes very stressed on your walk there are things you can do to alleviate the stress without coddling your dog. We get these instincts to whisk our dogs out of danger and run away with them, but you're not teaching them self confidence this way, and you are reinforcing fearful behavior by rewarding them with your affection. On the other side, we can also push our dogs too far to achieve an end. Learning how to walk on a leash is important, but if your dog is completley freaking out, forcing him to do something will make it worse. Let's say you're a runner and want your dog to accompany you when you train. But your dog is petrified of oncoming traffic and cowers when a car comes, which ruins your run. You leave your dog at home until you can gradually break him of this fear. Here are some things to help a stressed dog:

a. While holding your dog's collar, crouch down to his level close to one side of him. Put one hand on his chest, and without making eye contact, very calmly tell him that he is ok. Do not use your mushy puppy baby voice, but also do not be harsh. Be very calm and talk him down. Rub gentle circles on his chest. For a very small breed, pick him up, but place him across your heart so your even heart rate and encourage your dog's heart rate to even out. Do not make eye contact, but speak calmly to him.

b. Yawn. Yawning triggers their self soothing instinct.

c. Use your body to block sight of the object that is causing the stress.

d. Praise your dog once he is showing signs that he is no longer stressed. So when his heart rate slows, the eyes return to normal, and the panting stops. Then you can make eye contact and show affection, and move on.

e. If you can not calm your dog with these steps, cautiously lead him home. Do not scold or coddle. It is what it is. If your dog is fearful of cars, other dogs or people (all things you encounter on a walk) you can't just not walk your dog. But make walks shorter and praise your dog for each positive encounter. Baby steps.

I want to say a little something about pitbulls. When you are on a walk and see a pitbull being walked, please don't automatically cross the street and walk away. As far as dogs go, pitbulls stand just as much a chance of being well behaved as any trained dog. There are still misconceptions about them out there to cause people to fear them, and keep their dogs away from them, but the more you ostracize them the less socialized they'll become, and the black raincloud that hangs over this breed will perpetuate. Please think about that when you see a pitbull or any powerful breed such as rottweilers and akitas. As long as the pet parent is acting responsibly, the dog is onleash, and you ask first to greet, you will probably not have a problem. On the other hand, I don't want you to look at, let's say, a golden retriever and have this false sense of security and rush right over to greet him because you don't associate goldens as aggressive. Any breed of dog can be friendly and any breed of dog can be vicious. It's up to you to read body cues and be responsible yourself. Get your dog vaccinated, get your dog socialized, make sure he can follow your commands, and carry poop bags.

Please feel free to ask any questions if you feel I've left something out. Have a great walk!


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    • MazioCreate profile image


      7 years ago from Brisbane Queensland Australia

      Thanks for a very informative Hub. I have two Ridgebacks and understand the need to implement most of these behaviours.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      7 years ago from Florida

      As a fellow pet owner, I found this Hub extremly informative and interesting. I'm still working on my dog on a leash. Thanks.


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