Although in classes 0 and I obedience walking on the leash is mandatory, it is easier and more convenient to train without it (or you can securely attach the dog with a leash to your belt). We then have free hands to reward our student frequently.
We can teach walking by many methods. The first is to guide the dog with a treat. We hold the right hand with delicacy right in front of his nose, and the left – at the level of the croup (if the dog is small, we go leaning), directing him so that he goes parallel to our direction of the march, with a shoulder blade at the height of our knees. We do not push the dog – he must find the right position himself. We try to go straight (we can even draw a line on the ground).
If the dog jumps to the treat, we reward him from the hand held much lower. When it lingers, we accelerate it with a treat, when it overtakes – we slow down. Treats must be tiny, because for science to have an effect, at the beginning the dog must get them practically every step.
BACKING TO GOOD START
An easier and more effective method – especially for beginners – is to start learning how to walk with your leg by stepping back. We make contact with the dog, often rewarding it, and gradually go back a few steps. The dog must follow us very closely. Then we make a turn to go in the same direction as the dog.
Initially, we finish the exercise after only a few steps. Frequent rewarding is very important. Even if we are slightly late with the prize, the result may be the opposite, because in the meantime the dog will distract or turn around, for which he will be rewarded.
WALKING WITH A CLICKER
Good results are obtained by using a clicker that accurately informs the dog that what he is doing at the moment is good. Initially, we click very often as soon as our pupil is in the correct position. Then we gradually extend the time between clicks. Let’s not forget that clicking is not a reward – a treat should be given to the dog after each click.
A treat can be replaced with a ball or other toy. However, remember to throw the ball at the dog as a reward only after completing the exercise. We reward every correct position with just a few seconds of fun. In the meantime, we hide the ball behind the bosom, and never in the pocket – so that the dog does not have access to it and that it is at hand.
FROM SIMPLE TO RETURNS
Regardless of the method chosen, we teach the dog first to walk in a straight line, then to the right and left turns, always helping him with a treat. Only at the end we move on to learning phrases.
MARKING ON A STRAIGHT LINE
We always move our left leg (the one on the dog’s side). Her movement is a signal for him to start the exercise, to which he will respond much faster than to a voice command. We always stop with the right leg, to which we add the left one, which allows the dog to prepare for the „sit” position.
1/4 RIGHT OR LEFT
The right turn begins with the right leg, the left turn – with the left one. The shoulders should be in a horizontal line (we do not lean).
BACK RIGHT TO RIGHT OR LEFT
When rotating to the right, we put the right leg first, then the left one, we make a turn on the right toes and add the left. All this must be done without stopping. The dog is constantly walking on our left side, i.e. on the outside. When turning left we make a 180 ° turn, and the dog – bypassing us from behind – turns right. After each return, we take only a few steps and reward the dog. We must practice all these phrases ourselves first.
FOR A WALK – LESS SPORT
For a dog, sporting walking at the leg is tiring in the long run, and on a walk it is enough not to pull on a leash. Therefore, it is worth using one command for sports walking at the leg, and another – on daily walks.
- we approach the cone marking the beginning of the exercise with the dog already concentrated
- we approach not at an angle, but on a straight line – so that the dog automatically assumes the basic position (sitting next to the left leg) parallel to the walking line
- we move our left leg, stop right
- after the „leg” command we wait two seconds to give the dog time to move with us; for the same reason, the first step is a bit smaller than the next