Good dog training and a good plan go hand in hand. It is all good and well to say you are going to teach your dog to walk politely on lead. You need to have an idea of how to make that happen.
First, you need to have a picture of what you are looking for. My criteria for a loose leash is the snap has to hang perpendicular to the ground when attached to my dogs collar. If you are not sure what your criteria is, how can you explain it to your dog? Then you need an idea of how to achieve that criteria. I like dog trainer Sue Ailsby’s description of her chutes and ladders approach. Every step my dog takes with the leash meeting my goal of snap vertical in relation to the ground gets a reward. I will climb the ladder one step at a time, rewarding, one step, two steps, three steps, until the dog makes an error. The mistake chutes me back to the beginning, where I begin to explain again, one step reward, two steps reward etc back up the ladder. I continue up the ladder and down the chutes until my training time is up or my goal for that session s achieved.
So, when I plan my training session, I set a time limit, say five minutes. Or I set a performance goal, say five steps with an about turn all on a loose leash. I can stop on either objective. I make sure I have my supplies. For me they are a clicker, a leash, lots of tiny treats and a willing dog. It helps to practice just before meal time. This was my plan for a training session last week. I did the planning while driving. Then I put it in motion when I got home.
I took one step, the dog remained stationary. No treat. I said my dogs name and took a step. This time he came with me. I clicked and treated. Two steps, the leash was not loose, no click, no treat and back down the chute. My training went like this for about 7 trials, never getting more than three steps and always going back down the chute to step one. In fact, my dog did not seem to have a clue. I was getting frustrated, but I had not reached my objective of five minutes or five steps. I have faith in the method, so I tried again. And darn if I didn’t get 5 steps and a turn!
I could have stopped there, but my dog was really turned on at this point. He was focused and attentive. So, I did some more. Counting steps, I got to eighteen and two about turns. That very conveniently got me back to the house and in we went to celebrate!
Having a specific plan helped me quantify my results and kept me motivated. I knew exactly what my goal was and how long I was willing to work to achieve it. The number of steps were measureable and the time frame was short. The preparation gave me the result I wanted. And my dog remembered the next time I took him out for a walk. He became a willing partner in the training process. There is nothing tricky here, you can do it too!