Steps to Teach Your Dog to Walk on a Loose Leash

Renowned trainer, Pat Miller, jokes, “A walk is an hors d’oeuvre.”  She knows the high level of physical exercise dogs require, and a walk is just the tip of the iceberg.  So how do you teach polite walking when your dog needs so much more?  Be honest; is your dog’s exercise outside of walks filling their happy quotient?  We’re talking real dog fun; running at a park or beach, fetching a ball, hiking, etc.  If daily walks are their only source of physical fun, you’re setting yourselves up for a struggle.

Tools of the Trade

Use the latest gear and buy a front-clip harness where the leash clips to a ring on the chest piece. This greatly decreases their ability to use push into the front of the harness against their chest.  It’s a game changer!

Use Your Words

Add a cue to the behavior they naturally offer.  Incorporate phrases like, “Let’s Go” or “Let’s Walk” and “Go Sniff” into your walks to capture the behaviors you want.  Lead and they will follow.

Rules of the Game

Simply notice when there is tension on the leash.  We’ve all seen it, dogs pulling owners down the street.  It becomes second nature to both of them. Here’s a game plan for what to do instead…

Your mission is to clearly communicate that a loose leash is required to move forward.

  • Red Light Green Light – If they pull, you stop in your tracks.  Be patient.  When they create slack in the leash, allow them to move forward.  Repeat.
  • Penalty Yards – Leash tight again, step backwards away from the direction they are pulling.  Leash loosens, let them move forward to sniff that tree.
  • Change Directions – say, “Let’s go” and move in the opposite direction.
  • Treats – like Kryptonite to Superman, this is powerful stuff.  Randomly say, “Find It” and toss a high value treat in the direction you want to go.
  • Toys – take along a favorite ball or tug toy.

Your pooch will keep a better eye on you never knowing what fun might be in store.  And isn’t a walk supposed to be fun for both of you? Training positively is only limited by our imaginations, so, be creative!  Have a fun way you’ve found success?  Tell us what’s worked for you on our Purely Positive Facebook Page.

Written by C.C. Bourgeois

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