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Loose-leash walking: Days 29-30

One of my goals for this loose-leash walking challenge was to be able to take my dog out in all situations without a pinch collar or Gentle Leader and have him under control.

To me, under control means Ace is not pulling, whining, choking himself or fixating on another dog or person. Before this challenge, I walked Ace with his pinch collar on almost every day.

After working with Ace specifically on heeling for 30 days, I’ve reached the point where he can go almost anywhere with his regular buckle collar.

This challenge proves that if you focus on a specific issue with your dog, noticeable improvement can be made in just a few weeks. All you really have to do is dedicate a half-hour every day to working with your dog.

There are a few places where I still bring Ace’s choke collar such as PetSmart, obedience class or certain parks. It really depends on the situation.

Most of the time I have it on his neck, but I attach the leash to his regular collar. That way I’m not using the choke collar, but it’s there if I need it.

Ace can be off leash much of the time, and he’s more reliable to stay in the heel position than he was 30 days ago.

A big part of this is building trust with him and hopefully him trusting me too.

Practicing loose-leash walking every day has made me more aware of my dog and what his limits are. More than anything, working off leash benefits his on-leash heeling. It’s still safer to keep him on the leash most of the time.

Other changes I’ve noticed in Ace over the last month are how he naturally wants to stay close to me when we go out, whether I’ve asked him to heel or not. His pulling forward is nearly gone except when we first arrive somewhere “very exciting” like the dog park.

Because my dog is always hungry, he’s been constantly checking the ground for things to eat during walks. This habit drives me nuts, but it’s much better than when he pulls ahead.

When it snowed this week, Ace kept trying to eat the snow. Instead of going home for the Gentle Leader, I picked up the pace so he didn’t have the chance to grab or sniff anything.

Loose-leash walking is a continuous challenge for most dogs, and it definitely will be for Ace and I. But since he is only 2, I look forward to many future walks with my dog and fully appreciating him because he will be able to tag along more often.

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