- Kristen VanNess
Walking 201: Tackling New Environments
This is the second lesson in our Loose Leash Walking series.
Now that your dog can walk a short distance, it’s time to take this to different environments so your dog can learn that the skill works everywhere, not just in your initial walking location. Sometimes this means we have to go back a few stages, and that’s ok - that’s part of the learning process.
Leash Walking in Different Environments
Once we’ve trained in basic walking, we can repeat the same lesson in other environments. This will help your dog learn that it works everywhere, not just in the living room or backyard. For example, pick a quiet park, parking lot, or soccer field. Then, repeat the lesson on backward and side-by-side walking.
If your dog is very distracted, start by just getting your dog to eat treats “for free” without having to do any tasks. If he cannot eat, stop the session and try again in another location or later with higher value treats. Canned dog food, tiny pieces of boiled chicken, or small pieces of fish may be good options for your dog. If your dog is too excited or worried to eat, we know he’s not mentally ready to learn new skills.
In Lesson 3, we’ll work on passing specific distractions. Once your dog is eating treats well, you may choose to skip ahead to Lesson 3 before returning back here for Lesson 2.
Step By Step
Review the same process we used in Lesson 1. Use your backward walking and then transition to side-by-side walking. Walk back and forth in an area about 25’ long.
Once your dog is working well in that space, you can stretch your path by a few feet each pass so that you are going on a longer and longer route. Again, we are giving your dog a little new experience and then returning to an area where he can confidently walk at your side.
Practice Makes Perfect
You can then practice in another location and another. Some families might find it easiest to drive to a new place. Go train in the park next to your car for 5 minutes. Then move to a different park area and train for 5 minutes.
For urban families, we may have a different option. You might have to do your regular walking training, gradually expanding your walking path on each repetition until you can go around the block or to the next street.
Plan to have enough treats for your walking experience and arrive home or at the car before you run out.
If your dog tries to go ahead at any point, pause or go the other way. Do not go with him if he pulls.
Need to review? Check out Walking 101: Walking Basics.
Ready for the next step? Check out Walking 301: Managing Distractions on a Walk.
Remember, we are here for you each step of the way! Get personalized help today.