Beyond the Basics: Loose Leash Walking

This post is part of the series Dog Training Commands: Beyond the Basics

Other posts in this series:

  1. 14 Dog Training Commands: Beyond the Basics
  2. Beyond the Basics: Quiet Dog Training Command
  3. Beyond the Basics: Loose Leash Walking (Current)
  4. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog Boundaries
  5. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump on People

Loose leash walking is an essential part of dog training, for just about everyone.  Whether you have a fenced in yard for your dog to play in, or he does great off lead.  Your dog still needs to be taught loose lease walking.  There will be times in every dog owner’s life where you need to have your dog on a lead.  Such as trips to the vet’s office.

The Difference Between Heel and Loose Leash Walking

A Heel command is another dog walking technique, that is more intense for your dog.  The heel command requires lots of concentration on your dogs part, and shouldn’t be used the whole way through long walks. It’s mainly for keeping your dog focused on you.  It’s great for getting your dog through crowded, or potentially dangerous areas. Heel requires that the dog stay right beside you and at the same pace, whether he is on or off the lead.  Teaching your dog to heel is a little bit more difficult than just loose leash walking, and will take some time to practice.

Loose leash walking is more relaxed, and used for the rest of your walks.  When there isn’t a real need for him to be right at your side.  Your dog can have a little more freedom but still be under control with loose leash walking.

If your dog already knows the Heel Dog Training command, loose leash walking should be a piece of cake for you.

Teaching your Dog Loose Leash Walking

You need a leash and a collar or harness of some type.  For training purposes, we like to use a padded harness and stable 6-foot nylon leash.

If you have a dog that you’ve tried loose leash walking before, with no success, a front hook harness, or Gentle Leader head harness are great tools to help with your training.  When your dog tries to pull, it pulls him around to face you instead.

Please avoid the use of prong collars, or choke collars.  They’re cruel and unjust punishment for your dog.  Instead, try a head harness like the Gentle Leader.  They work wonders on headstrong dogs without hurting them.

Be Still Technique

The easiest way to begin working with your dog on loose leash walking is to simply stop when he starts pulling.  Stand completely still until he comes close enough to you for the leash to relax all tension. Then when the leash is relaxed, continue your walk.

Remember to always stop completely as soon as the pulling begins.  You can’t let him have a reward, i.e. moving, by pulling on the leash, or he’ll never stop pulling.

Turn Around Technique

If you don’t have the patience to try the Be Still technique, then just turn around.  As soon as your dog starts to pull on the leash, just turn around and go the other direction.  Give him a ‘Let’s go’ cue, in an excited voice to get his attention, and without jerking on the leash, just head in the other direction.  Again, make sure not to pull or yank on the leash.

When he starts to follow you and the leash is relaxed, turn around an try to continue on your way again.  It may take a couple of tries, but your verbal cues and body language should make it clear that he won’t be rewarded with forward movement for pulling on the leash.

Treats also work great with loose leash walking.  When he keeps the leash slack, give him a treat every so often.

This post is part of the series Dog Training Commands: Beyond the Basics

Other posts in this series:

  1. 14 Dog Training Commands: Beyond the Basics
  2. Beyond the Basics: Quiet Dog Training Command
  3. Beyond the Basics: Loose Leash Walking (Current)
  4. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog Boundaries
  5. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump on People

Continue reading this series:

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