5Ws+1H: How It's Done: Loose leash important for dog training

Apr. 30—Leash training an animal can be daunting for some, but with the right equipment and patience, the task can be accomplished with relative ease.

Toni Bailey, a local dog trainer, said the biggest joke among other trainers is teaching "loose leash training" in a day.

"That's the funniest thing in the world, because it's not going to happen," Bailey said. "A puppy doesn't get on a leash — especially a 6-month-old puppy — for the first time and walk nicely at your side. An 8-week-old puppy kind of will if you have the right equipment."

Bailey said a martingale collar helps "check" the canine. The small check is done by gently tugging on the leash, causing the collar to apply a small amount of pressure to remind the pet of its training.

"It's just a nicer way of training rather than using a choke collar, and I've had my puppies walking on a loose leash at 8 weeks with a martingale," Bailey said.

Treats are also an important factor in training. Bailey said these needs to be small and can go down fast.

"I train with $100 bills. In other words, if I ask you to go wash my car, you would say, 'Well, I have stuff to do.' What if I said, 'I have a $100 bill and it would take you five minutes?' You would get up and probably go do it," Bailey said.

The $100 bills refer to treats Bailey gives her dogs, including freeze-dried liver and chicken hearts. String cheese is another treat that is good for training purposes.

Another tool for leash training is a clicker, which helps get a dog's attention, as the animal learns to expect a treat upon hearing the noise.

Having a dog go into the heel position is often done on the left side, with the pet's shoulder at the owner's leg. Bailey said when the dog is a puppy and it goes into a heel position, it should always rewarded with a treat.

"What gets rewarded gets repeated, and he knows that when he is in this position, he will get a [treat]," Bailey said.

Before a pet owner takes off walking, Bailey advises giving a verbal command to let the pet know what's happening. If the animal starts to pull on the leash, Bailey said the owner should stop forward motion immediately, so the dog is not continuously tugging on the leash.

Short sessions are the way to go when it comes to training, so the dog doesn't lose interest.

Bailey said the art of loose leash dog walking can take years to perfect.

"It's is an ongoing skill and it's very important that you have the right equipment and that you begin right with [the training]," Bailey said.