Bad behavior on the leash is the most common dog-related problem I run into and it is one of those basic skills that seems to be so difficult to master. Usually, Jada is pulling like a sled dog and barking at other dogs. So frustrating! I have been wanting to improve our leash skills, but could not seem to find the right method that would work with my dogs. Thankfully, I now have a dog trainer for a best friend who guided me in the right direction with one of her books, Control on Leash: Revolutionary Leash Walking Techniques for Dogs.
|Michelle Huntting and her main squeeze, Boy|
Michelle Huntting is a certified dog trainer and has been working with dogs since 2005. Right now she is in Dallas, Texas offering group training classes in-home and even online (see our review here on her Zen Dog Class) She has written 3 books including the one we are reviewing today called Control on Leash: Revolutionary Leash Walking Techniques for Dogs.
Control on Leash was published in 2013 and has 255 pages full of leash walking tips and activities. Michelle goes into detail ranging from types of products to use to calming skills to what to do with multiple dogs.
Jada has always had problems with walking on the leash as she is always pulling. I have tried several products like no pull harnesses and wacky contraptions to no avail. I even tried a technique from a famous dog trainer but Jada did not respond.
|"What do you mean by 'you need work on your leash skills'?"|
One of the most groundbreaking techniques Michelle writes about in her book is where your dog is super excited to go sniff some grass (or anything else exciting) and you just stop until they are beside you, or even better, behind you, then you continue forward. If they pull ahead you stop again until you get to your destination. I have tried something similar, but never realized that the motivation is very important. We tried this out in the front yard and all the other dogs were loose except for Jada so she was eager to go play, but got frustrated when I wouldn't go forward. Eventually she realized what she had to do and was so much better on the leash.
Even when you are on the go you can use this technique- Jada loves going to new places, even if it means the vet! There are so many great smells so she pulls like the dickens to get to this nice grassy spot nearby. I used the same stop and go technique mentioned above and I definitely saw an improvement, especially since the motivation was so high.
Another great technique is to use a target stick to reinforce the heel behavior in small dogs...
For teaching heel in larger dogs, you can manipulate the leash to move the dog in the right position, but this is difficult in small dogs because they are so much lower to the ground. Having to bend down messes with the body language communication between you and your dog and not to mention puts a strain on your back after a while.
To make one of these target sticks, all you have to do is go to your local craft store and pick up a wooden dowel and pack of smooth foam balls. I picked the dowel size based on what I felt wasn't too heavy and wasn't too light. When I got home, I took a knife and made the precut hole in the ball bigger so that the dowel could fit, squeezed in some super glue, and stuck the dowel in there to dry for a few minutes.
While I let the target stick dry, I made a puree of carrots and bananas (approx 2 of each) to make a paste in which to stick the ball in. Jada has a ton of allergies, so the idealistic peanut butter wouldn't work. The fruit and veggie mush turned out great, but I think next time I would add some meat to make it even more tempting.
|Jada focused on the target stick|
|working on "check-ins"|
Michelle Huntting's book really opened my eyes to all the ways you can work on leash walking. It can be a difficult skill to learn, but you can go about it in different ways like working on impulse control, relaxation techniques, or with the help of a head halter.
|"Training sure is yummy!"|
In a Nutshell...
- Michelle Huntting is a certified dog trainer who has been in the business since 2005
- She has written 3 books, including Control on Leash: Revolutionary Leash Walking Techniques for Dog Owners
- In Control on Leash covers all you could ever want to know about getting your dog to walk on the leash in the right way.
- She starts with the basics and builds up to more advanced techniques and challenges
- You can find her book for $23.59 at Amazon
Since I have gotten to know Michelle, I have been continuously impressed with her skills as a dog handler and teacher of dog training. She makes things easy to understand and I have seen firsthand how her techniques are helping my dogs. I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with leash training or just want to learn about different training techniques!
|"I will walk anywhere with you, Mama"|
Learn more about Michelle Huntting here!
How is your dog's leash manners?
Let us know in the comments below!
We are also having a giveaway where 2 readers will win a copy of Michelle Huntting's book- Control on Leash: Revolutionary leash Walking Techniques for Dog Owners [ARV $24.99]
Open to U.S.A. and Canada
Ends 2/17/2016 11:59 pm EST
Ends 2/17/2016 11:59 pm EST
By entering the giveaway, you agree to the official rules
.@MHuntting116 has helped us improve Jada's leash skills with "Control on Leash" https://t.co/ph5VAlRF4z #ad pic.twitter.com/hdG464P4mA— Abby Chesnut (@TheChesnutMutts) February 4, 2016