Leo’s Walking Adventures

Since it’s National Walk your Dog Day, I’ll tell you all about the ups and downs of walking Leo. From the minute we brought Leo home we’ve been trying to positively train him to loose-leash walk, and unlike the many other tricks and commands Leo has easily mastered, loose-leash walking has never been one of them.  When we were in his puppy class, he was quick to learn what to do when we had treats in our hand; but when we brought him home and walked him with treats near our home, he was much more interested in cars, leaves, animals, and pretty much anything that moved.

He’s been a puller since day 1. When he was a puppy it wasn’t so bad. We eventually got a harness on him because he would rather choke himself out than not catch the lizard. After he grew out the harness, we tried a choke chain that worked for a little bit, but then he got accustomed to it and continued to pull. At this point, he was packing about 60 lbs with pure muscle on the inside and fluff on the outside. He wasn’t too much of a problem for Erich, but I was no longer walking Leo. Leo was walking me. This, of course, took a toll on our walks because they were miserable for me and probably Leo too. Loose-leash training is really hard.

Someone at the dog park, who clearly saw me struggling with Leo, suggested I try the Gentle Leader, so we switched to that. This collar was my miracle collar. Leo, while he didn’t like it that much, took to it pretty well. It was great. Walking Leo was great. We could go on longer walks, and I wasn’t afraid he would take off on me. He was also a great companion when we went out to eat. The Gentle Leader definitely helped train Leo not to pull as much because we switched (again) to a regular harness and his pulling has been tolerable (unless there’s a duck). I haven’t totally retired the Gentle Leader, but for now it’s put away.

Training Leo to walk nicely has been by far the hardest challenge of his entire puppyhood (more so than potty training). We’re slowly getting there, and I’m sure as he gets older it’ll get better, but if anyone has any tips or advice, please leave a comment or reply to the blog. I would greatly appreciate anything that would help our walks become more enjoyable for both of us.

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  1. I love the Whole Dog Journal magazine. I’ve been a subscriber for years. Once subscribed, you have online access to all their issues. Some articles (like the one below) are online publically.

    Here’s a great article by Pat Miller. She’s a world reknown trainer:


    Leo is adorable…lol

  2. Leo is just a cutie, love his coloring. Goldens can be very head strong. however, with training you will master him with his walks. even my little gals pull sometimes and they are 8 and 9. seems like almost everyday is something dog..that is okay, my girls are everything to me.

  3. Leo’s such an adorable dog and was a cute pup! It’s been fun watching him grow up. I use the Gentle Leader on all of my pups. The only time they “graduate” from it is when they can walk on a loose leash with it around distractions. Then I click the leash to their regular collar while leaving the GL on, so I can see if they’ll walk nicely on a regular collar. If not, they go back to the GL. I also use meal kibbles as “treats” to keep the pup right by my left heel, which can eventually be phased out and a pet/praise replaces the kibble. They don’t get to go out in front of me or pull me over to anything (shows they’re in charge since the pack leader decides where to go and what to do). To take a break from the heel position and sniff the flowers, I get their eye contact, have them sit on a loose leash, then say “release” so they can sniff stuff. When I’m ready to have them return, I give them the command to come to me and walk on a loose leash again. It takes lots of practice but is worth it!

  4. I prefer the gentle leader with my rescue dog Stella. When I adopted her I bought a harness for her. It was not working.
    Reason – she pulled as your dog Leo does and one time she pulled so hard that she got out of the harness. Since then
    I have had a gentle leader for 3 years and enjoy it as well as she does. No more pulling.

    Good luck!

  5. Stick with your Gentle Leader and lots of small treats. I use Meow Mix–it’s really small and my dogs love the ‘fishy’ stuff. My girl, however, won’t eat outside, but she’s made tremendous progress from the abused yearling I got 6 or 7 years ago. She occasionally likes to play sled dog (and I’m the sled), but she loves me best.

  6. Firstly, Annemarie, Thanks for sharing leo’s adventure 🙂

    lots of love for leo.

    So, I take my dog outside twice everyday.

    But there are times when I’m busy, that’s where my buddy rick takes the dog outside.

    Also, keep posting about leo

  7. They are too cute, I will raise a child later for my son to play with it. very interesting

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