Taking your dog for a walk should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your dog, but walking a dog that pulls you all over the place can be both frustrating and unpleasant. Many people assume that an adult or adolescent dog should innately know proper leash behavior but in fact, it requires some training and a lot of consistency. Proper leash etiquette can set the tone of your relationship with your dog and does not require extensive obedience training.
First, introduce your dog to its new walking equipment. It may be sufficient to start with your regular martingale or buckle collar, but you may find that you will have better control with a front-clip harness or a head halter such as a Gentle Leader or Halti Headcollar. Please watch the Gentle Leader and Halti acclimation videos to learn more about how to acclimate dogs to these tools. Note that it may take some time for your dog to be comfortable enough to walk outside with this equipment.
You will also need a treat pouch and your dog’s favorite treats. These treats must be its absolute favorite ones to start with. You can even use small pieces of cheese, chicken or hot dogs if necessary. You will also need a place to put them such as a pouch, bait bag or large pocket and a 5-foot or 6- foot leash.
Start training in a quiet place indoors where you can practice without distraction. Pick a side, right or left, for your dog to walk on that is most comfortable for you. If you want your dog to learn to walk on your left side, put your leash in your right hand and bunch up the extra slack like an accordion. Your left hand, the side closest to your dog, will control the tension so that the leash is across your body. You want to make sure there’s no pressure on the dog’s collar but no extra leash. Reverse this if you want your dog to walk on your right side. Once you’re comfortable with this position, you can move on to the following cues. Practice indoors first, then in quiet places outdoors before trying a walk with any distractions.
Below are links to video on how to continue training your dog to walk on a loose leash!
- How to Get (and keep!) Your Distracted Dog’s Attention on Walks
- Leash Training Basics: Prevent Reactivity and Frustration with Leash Pressure Cues
- How to Keep Your Dog from Pulling on Leash
- Train Your Dog to STOP Pulling on Leash
- Loose Leash Walking Tips for Strong Pullers
Download the Loose Leash Walking handout here.