Walking on a loose leash is a trick. It's just like sit, roll over, stay or fetch.
Loose-leash walking takes a long time to become ingrained, needing anywhere from weeks to months of work depending on your dog. It requires patience and consistency from you as you help your dog along, the whole time trying to remember that your dog is learning to control his normal desires to behave how you want.
Here's what you'll need to get started:
- No Pull Harness
- Treats or toy that your dog loves
1. Exercise your dog before leash-training activities
As the saying goes, a good dog is a tired dog. Getting all the excitement and wiggles out before starting the training session will help your dog stay more focused on the task at hand. That leads to a better training session, which in turn leads to your dog more solidly (and more quickly) grasping the concept of loose leash walking.
2. Make the leash part of the game, not something that stops the game
It's important that your dog understands that the leash is a good thing. Be sure to build good associations with the leash, which means don't pull back if your dog begins to pull, and — this shouldn't need to be stated — never yank, drag, or hit your dog with a leash. If you want your dog to walk next to you, be someone enjoyable to walk next to.
3. Never work on leash training (or any training) when you're feeling stressed
Your dog is perfectly aware of your mood and emotionally responds to your inner tension. If you try to work with your dog when you aren't in a calm, positive place, you'll make your dog impatient, stressed, frustrated or even fearful. This just sabotages the lesson, and perhaps even undoes some of the training you worked so hard to achieve by eroding the fun and trust of your training sessions.
4. Be random
Avoid having a routine for where you go, the pace you go, and the rate at which you reward. Randomly stop, turn around, turn a corner, speed up, slow down. Make the walk an interactive game and the dog's attention will stay on you. Your dog will be wondering what's going to happen next and how he can earn a reward. He'll want to stay next to you because you are the most fun thing around!
5. Start small, and work up from there
If your dog is easily distracted, start inside your home where the environment presents as few distractions as possible. You become the most interesting thing around, playing the most interesting game with the most interesting rewards. Move on to short walks around the neighborhood, and then on to longer walks in more distracting and stimulating situations.
6. Know your dog and be patient
Depending on your dog's personality and your skills as a trainer, it could be a matter of only a couple weeks before you're on the road to consistent loose leash walking. But for many dogs, it takes a lot of time to end a bad behavior and replace it with a good behavior. By having realistic expectations about your dog's abilities for picking up a new and difficult trick, and by having a realistic view of how you're doing as a trainer, you'll be able to better maintain that patient approach and make more progress overall.
7. End the session on a high note
One of the most important things about training is to end the training session after a moment of success and positive reinforcement. When a dog ends a lesson knowing what he did right and getting a reward for it, it will be easier for him to remember his training and behave accordingly when you begin your next session.
8. Use a No Pull Harness for safe & effective training
By using a high quality harness specially designed for leash training, such as the FurFurBuddy™ No Pull Harness. This gives you more control to guide your dog using a built-in training handle. It also offers better safety over traditional collars and doesn't choke or hurt your dog when the leash is pulled.