Step 1: Teach the dog a simple neutral sound (clicking with the tongue, or patting your thigh), which means only one thing “Follow me.”
A leash is not necessary for the first three steps.
Teach it this way:
• Start inside or in a quiet place without distractions.
• Have the dog fairly close and have a treat ready in your hand.
• Use the sound you have decided to teach the dog.
• The dog will turn toward the sound. Dogs being naturally curious, want to investigate new sounds.
• The second the dog turns toward the sound, praise and treat him.
• Repeat this a few times and he will soon learn that the sound indicates a treat or something pleasant.
The dog has now learned that at the signal he should turn to you for a reward.
• Remain in a quiet place.
• Make the sound.
• Praise the dog when he turns toward you, and move a few steps away from the dog.
• He will follow to get his reward.
The dog has now learned to follow you to get a reward.
• Ensure that there are still no distractions.
• Make the sound.
• Praise the dog when he turns toward you.
• Take a few steps (just 2 – 3 steps to begin with or the dog will become frustrated and give up).
• Reward the dog when he follows.
• Make the sound again and change directions.
• Repeat this between three to five times in a row.
• Walk in a different direction each time; praise and treat your dog when he follows you.
The dog has now learned to follow you and walk with you whenever you go when you give the signal.
• Continue to work in a place with no distractions.
• The next step is to use a leash (not an extendable leash) and to do exactly the same as before.
• Always have a completely slack leash. Be aware of your hand and ensure you don’t pull or put any pressure at all on the leash.
The dog has now learned to follow you on a loose leash.
• Continue to work somewhere with no distractions.
• Now you can gradually start to increase the difficulty of the exercise.
• Walk a few steps further each time.
• Change direction frequently.
The dog is now learning to walk on a loose leash in variety of places.
• Gradually increase the amount of time spent practicing.
• If your dog looses concentration it is likely because you spent too much time practicing make training fun and enjoyable.
Step 6: Increase the difficulty slowly by introducing distractions.
Distractions can be:
• Bicycles, skate boards, children of roller skates
• Dogs or other animals
• People walking
• Children running
Always start with the distractions at a distance and gradually move closer as long as the dog is coping well with the situation. Also remember a dog learns something new in 30 days of consistent practice so try to practice daily starting at 10 minutes twice a day.
Step 7: Start giving treats a little less often gradually decreasing the frequency with which you are offering the treat. Vary how you use the treats, but never stop using them completely as your dog will need a reward now and again. You can also tell your dog how pleased you are with them and pet them on occasions.
Remember to practice constantly and in no time your dog will be walking at your side through all sorts of distractions and everyone will be happy with their lovely walks. After all we do like coming home happy and not feeling like we just had the hardest and toughest work out of our life.