There are lots of ways to train better Leash Manners but the first step should always be the same – build value for walking on your left, or right, side. I prefer for my dogs to walk on my left, but if you like your dogs to walk on your right just switch up the exercise.
With your dog standing on your left side, drop your hand down and feed your dog a treat or piece of kibble. It’s important you hold your hand stationary, so that you communicate in the clearest possible way where you want your dog to be.
If your hand moves around when you deliver the treat, you create a position that is open to interpretation. If it helps, hook your thumb into the belt loop of your pants to keep your hand stationary.
Do this 20 times a day for a week. I promise you, if you do it right, your dog will start to choose to spend more time on your left side.
Challenge the Learning.
Around Day 3 or 4, test if you are, in fact, building value for the left side by taking one or two steps forward. Does your dog move with you? If he does, great! If he doesn’t, that just tells you that you need to spend more time building value for the left side. You can also evaluate these factors that may be impacting what your progress:
- How much formal training does your dog have? If your dog has little, or no, formal training he may take a little more time learning this behaviour.
- What are you using for reinforcement? Maybe kibble isn’t interesting enough for your dog. Try something more interesting like freeze dried liver or cut up hot dogs.
- What are your mechanics like? If you are not feeding consistently in the same place, you may be making it harder for your dog to understand what behaviour is getting paid.
Here’s a short video clip of Step 1 of Better Leash Manners.