How to Train Your Dog to Loose Leash Walk

How to Train Your Dog to Loose Leash Walk
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon4-8 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Having your dog pull on his leash while you're on walks can be extremely frustrating. Maybe you have been on walks yourself and seen dogs walking their owners rather than owners walking their dogs. Watching an owner lose control of their dog can also be a scary thing to witness. Dogs who overpower their owners can lead owners straight into a street or face-planted on a sidewalk or asphalt. And dogs who walk their owners rather than the other way around can become a nuisance and possibly injure other animals. 

Teaching your dog to loose leash walk gives you control with the leash while also keeping your dog close to you. However, the goal with loose leash walking is to teach your dog not to be distracted when he is walking with you and stay by your side so he is not pulling you along on walks. Loose leash walking gives you and your dog both the freedom to walk together without tugging on one another.

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Defining Tasks

When you train your dog to loose leash walk, you are essentially teaching him to walk beside you without pulling on his leash. This is an easy training to do, especially with young dogs. But you can certainly teach any dog to loose leash walk. It just takes time and effort along with repetitive training. Loose leash walking will prevent your dog from pulling you along and walking you. You and your dog can walk side-by-side or your dog can heel next to you or just behind as you walk him along. Loose leash walking focuses on avoiding distractions and listening and obeying. When you teach your dog to loose leash walk you will have control over how your dog behaves on his leash. A well-mannered dog with specific leash manners will walk with a loose leash and not pull his owner along.

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Getting Started

Be prepared with a leash appropriate for your dog's size and strength. Some high value-treats will help to keep your dog's attention during training. This isn't a difficult task for many dogs, but others may need additional time to learn leash manners and how to walk with a loose leash. Plan training sessions often so your dog does not have time to forget his leash manners.

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The Start Off-Leash Method

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1

Yard walk

Take your dog for a walk around your yard off-leash. This gives him the freedom to roam within the confines and safety of your yard. It also teaches him that he could have freedom while staying by your side.

2

Ignore

Walk around your yard, ignoring your dog. Then while you're walking, very enthusiastically call your dog over to you. When he comes to you give him a treat.

3

Conversation

While you're walking, hold your dog's attention by having a conversation with him. You can talk about anything. Just talk to your dog so he has the desire to stay with you as you walk around.

4

Reward

Every few steps, reward your dog by giving him a small treat. Every five treats, ignore your dog and allow him to walk away from you.

5

Recall and repeat

Once your dog walks away from you, call him back over and repeat the steps above, starting with a simple conversation to hold his attention.

6

On-leash walk

Put your dog on a leash and go for a walk outside of your backyard. Anytime your dog pulls to get away from you, stop and stand still. After getting his attention and standing still, take a few steps backward.

7

Enthusiasm

Again, with an enthusiastic voice, talk to your dog and call him back to your side. When your dog comes back to you, take a few steps forward. As long as he stays with you give him a treat.

8

Practice

Continue to practice these steps until your dog can walk by your side with the leash left loose between you two. Anytime your dog pulls away from you, stop and step backward. Over time, you can decrease the frequency of the rewards you're giving your dog for a job well done. But continue to treat him every so often as you walk together.

The Leash Play Method

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Leash introduction

Put a leash on your dog and stand still. You can have your dog sit in front of you or next to you, but remain still. After a few moments of relaxed sitting, offer him a treat.

2

Step away

Step away from your dog ,tightening the leash, and stand still again. If your dog does not move towards you, call him to loosen the tension of the leash between you. Repeat having your dog sit with a loose leash and offer him a treat once he obeys.

3

Entice

Encourage your dog to step away from you, tightening that leash, by tossing a treat behind him. He will likely pull on the leash to go get the treat. Allow him to do this and wait for him to come back to you. He will likely be looking for more treats.

4

Turn and walk

When your dog begins to come back to you, turn and walk away from him. He should catch up quickly, loosening the leash between you.

5

Practice

Repeat the steps above until each time your dog is on the leash he knows to stay near you with the leash loose between you two. Entice your dog with treats, challenging him by tossing treats to tighten the leash between you and encouraging him to come back to you.

The Clicker Training Method

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Introduce leash

Prep your dog with a collar or harness already on, and let him sniff his leash before you put it on him. Click and treat once he acknowledges the leash with a sniff.

2

Slack

Stand next to the dog and attach the leash, leaving slack.

3

Stand still

Because your dog may be excited, stand next to him very still until he calms down. Once he has settled down, click and treat.

4

Command

When your dog is calm, give a command such as "let’s go," and begin to walk forward. If he doesn’t follow, encourage him with excitement and enthusiasm. After a few steps, as long as he is by your side, click and treat.

5

Practice

Take small walks together, practicing keeping your dog’s attention with a click and treat every so often to keep him near your and not pulling on the leash.

6

Redirect

If your dog becomes distracted or pulls, redirect him back to you by stopping and calling him back. Once you get his attention, click and treat. If he isn’t by your side before you click, he will come back for that treat.

7

Keep at it

Keep taking your dog on short walks and build your way up to longer walks using this method. Remember to click and treat for a job well done. As he gets used to loose leash walking and not pulling, you can click and treat less often but still offer a reward every now and then.

By Stephanie Plummer

Published: 10/26/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Sadie

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Beagle

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1 Year

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Question

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She is pulling on leash I don’t know how to stop her

April 6, 2022

Sadie's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mackenzie, Check out the Turns method from the article linked below. Pay special attention to the steps on turning directly in front of pup as soon as their nose starts to move past your leg - don't wait until her head is all the way past your leg to turn in front of her or this will be hard to do. It should look like pup sitting beside you, slightly behind you so that head is behind your leg, step forward and as soon as she starts to move ahead of you, quickly turn directly in front of her. You will probably have to be fast at first and may bump into her until she starts to learn this. Practice in an open area, like your own yard, so that you can make lots of turns easily. You want pup to learn that she should stay slightly behind and pay attention to where you are going and where you may turn, instead of assuming she knows the way and can forge ahead. The turns keep her guessing and more focused. Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

April 6, 2022

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Lucky

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Labrador Retriever

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10 Months

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Should I let my dog play with other dogs when I walk him? He pulls but I am working on that with him. When I see other dogs walking, I let him play with them. Should I do that?

Jan. 11, 2019

Lucky's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kien, If he pulls to get to them, he should not be allowed to play. Check out the article that I have linked below to work on him pulling to get over to them. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs In general, when you want him to play with a dog tell him to "Go Play", and if you don't tell him that command he should not be allowed to play or go over to another dog. You want him to learn to ignore other dogs unless given permission to say hi so that he will not get overexcited around other dogs during walks, but will relax instead. There are pros and cons to letting him meet or not letting him meet. If he doesn't meet, he is more likely to be calm on walks. If he does meet, he will likely continue to like dogs (as long as you are careful to keep the interactions friendly and avoid dogs that don't want to meet or are showing aggressive or tense body language). Don't let him be rude to the other dog when he meets. The most important thing is for him to only greet them while being mannerly to the other dog and polite to you (by not pulling, listening, and only trying to meet if given permission). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Jan. 11, 2019


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