How to Train Your Dog to Walk on a Loose Leash

border collie puppy on a loose leash

Written by Andrea Gatley

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Walking your dog should be a joy, not a chore. If you’re getting pulled around by your dog during walks, it’s time to start training them to walk on a loose leash. By following these simple steps, you can enjoy a pleasant walk with your furry friend without any pulling or tugging.

Understand the Concept of Loose Leash Walking

Before you start training, it’s crucial to understand the idea behind loose leash walking. The objective is not to have your dog heel by your side at all times but to have them walk without tension on the leash. This means your dog can explore their surroundings, but the leash should always remain slack, without pulling or tugging.

Step 1: Choose the Right Equipment

Start with a sturdy flat collar or a front-clip harness, depending on your dog’s breed and size. Avoid using retractable leashes as they give less control and can teach your dog to pull. Instead, opt for a 6-foot leash that provides enough space for your dog to explore without getting too far away from you.

Step 2: Start Indoors

Begin your training sessions indoors where there are fewer distractions. Put the leash on your dog and hold the other end without pulling it tight. Walk around the house while encouraging your dog to follow you. Use treats and praise to reward your dog for maintaining a loose leash.

Step 3: Introduce the Cue

Once your dog is comfortable walking around indoors, introduce a cue word like “Let’s go” or “With me” to signal to your dog that it’s time to walk. Say the cue, then start walking. If your dog follows with the leash loose, give them a treat and praise.

Step 4: Stop When They Pull

If your dog starts to pull on the leash, stop walking immediately. Stand still and wait for your dog to turn their attention back to you. Once the leash is slack again, you can continue walking. This teaches your dog that pulling gets them nowhere.

Step 5: Practice in Various Environments

Once your dog is doing well indoors, start practicing in a variety of outdoor environments with more distractions. Start with quiet areas and gradually move to places with more distractions. Remember to be patient and consistent in your training.

Step 6: Reward Good Behavior

Always reward your dog for good behavior. Use treats, praise, or a favorite toy to reward your dog for keeping the leash loose. The more you reward them, the more they will associate loose-leash walking with positive experiences.

Tips for Success

  • Be patient and consistent. Training takes time, so don’t expect immediate results.
  • Keep training sessions short and fun. Long, boring training sessions can be counterproductive.
  • Avoid yanking the leash. This could hurt your dog and make them fearful.
  • Practice daily. The more you practice, the quicker your dog will learn.

Remember, every dog learns at their own pace. If you’re struggling to train your dog on your own, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional dog trainer. With time, patience, and consistency, you can teach your dog to walk on a loose leash, making your walks more enjoyable for both of you.

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