Loose-Leash Walking Tips
Loose-leash walking is not to be confused with the “heel” command. Loose-leash walking is just good manners. You control the length of the leash, with your hand in a natural position alongside your body. As soon as the dog gets too far ahead or behind you, there will be tension on the leash, moving your hand out of its natural position; this is what we want to prevent. So the goal is that you, as the pack leader, set the pace and the length of the leash, and your dog peacefully walks with you, not interrupting your pace with frequent sniff breaks, or pulling ahead of you creating leash tension, and sometimes emotional stress!
Start practicing loose-leash walking in a distraction-free area, like the living room. As your dog masters loose-leash walking in this area, introduce her to other areas of increasing distractions, like the back yard, then a quiet street, then a busy street, etc. Make sure she is consistently walking loose-leash before introducing her to the next level of distractions, which might take a few days, but the patience is worth it. Eventually, with practice, your dog should be able to walk loose-leashed past even her biggest triggers. For my dog, it’s cats.
Start walking with your dog beside you. As soon as your hand moves due to tension on the leash, introduce a leash pop, which is just a swift, flick of your wrist. The severity of the leash pop depends on the dog. It shouldn’t be violent, especially for a small or skittish dog. On the other hand, larger or more stubborn dogs might not respond to very soft leash pops, so start soft, and gradually increase the severity of the leash pop until they react and the leash loosens. It doesn’t need to be any more severe than that so training doesn’t become an unpleasant experience for your dog.
As you walk, remember: you choose the pace. Don’t stop every time your dog. Corrections (leash pops) should happen in motion, without you having to break your stride.When loose-leash walking your dog, remember -- you and you alone set the pace. Click To Tweet
You want to set the pace as the pack leader. So if your dog consistently pulls ahead, you can turn around and start walking in the opposite direction. She will probably adapt quickly and start pulling in this new direction, so just keep turning around unexpectedly until she understands that she isn’t going to get where she wants to go. This technique isn’t the first choice for fearful or skittish dogs since the abrupt change in direction might startle or scare them. But these dogs usually aren’t the worst pullers either. 🙂
Remember that timing is everything. For corrections, you must pay close attention and administer the leash pop immediately after your dog goes too far.
You can add a verbal correction for a very distracted dog, but loose-leash walking is just about good manners for your dog. It shouldn’t be a response to a verbal command, but rather should be expected at all times. A verbal correction, like “No” isn’t a command, it’s only to be used when she is very distracted.
So there you have it! We love this method because it doesn’t rely on treats or clickers, which you may not have on hand when you want to go for a walk with your dog. Achieving loose-leash walking takes practice and consistency. Only work with one dog at a time, since they are distractions to each other, and keep the training sessions short, like 5-10 minutes at a time. Practice with your dog multiple times per day, every day. Give her time to decompress and relax after each training session, and be aware if she is showing signs of stress.
Dog walking becomes a dream when you and your dog master loose-leash walking. Good luck!
AUTHOR: If you are looking for San Diego dog training services, you may visit Doggiejoggie.comLoose-Leash Walking Tips: How to train your dog to walk alongside you, with no tension, at your… Click To Tweet
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