Polite Leash Walking, Part 2

How do you teach your dog to pay attention to you and not pull on leash? The trick is to practice in your living room – and don’t even use a leash!

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
6-minute read
Episode #140

In an earlier article, I explained why polite leash walking can be so hard to teach, and how to set up yourself and your dog for success rather than frustration.

This week, I’ll describe a plan for teaching Dogalini to walk with you attentively and without pulling.

I try to keep these tips self-contained, but the easiest way to teach polite leash walking is to clicker train it. So please read my articles on clicker training before you get started. I’ll still be here when you get back.


Start Practicing Inside, Without a Leash

Polite leash walking is, essentially, attentive leash walking. It’s easier for Dogalini to learn to keep an eye on you in a familiar, not-too-enticing environment, which makes any large room in your home a good place to begin. Pick a time when your dog is hungry – right before her supper, maybe. Have your clicker in hand and your treats in a pouch or otherwise easily accessible so you can dole them out quickly, one at a time. Nope, no leash for this exercise.

Polite leash walking is, essentially, attentive leash walking. Practice in boring locations at first.

Start walking randomly around the room. You don’t need to call Dogalini or ask her to do anything. Watch for her to look at you; as soon as she does, click/treat. Offer the treat by your side, where you’d like her to walk next to you when she is on leash. When she comes to collect her treat, click/treat again for being next to you. Keep this up, clicking and treating every second or two whenever Dogalini is walking next to you. Also click/treat as soon as she re-orients to you after having wandered off. Remember, no cues and no coaxing – the goal is for your dog to volunteer to walk by your side.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).