Training Your Dog To Walk On Leash
A Loose Leash

First, your dog will never walk on leash for you if he/she issomehow afraid of the leash itself. This is a good time to go to our “help with the leash” page for suggestions and solutions before we go any farther.

Walking with your dog is essential for her health. An under exercised dog will have health and obedience problems galore. However, walking with a dog that is dragging the leash and pulling you side to side and down the sidewalk is no fun.

A Great Dane pulling girl. No, No, No! This dog needs to learn to WALK on leash.
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Preparation for Walk On Leash

Have plenty of tasty treats available. Treats should be of a nature the dog doesn’t ordinarily get, such as freeze-dried liver or fresh baked chicken bits.

Basic dog training must include this instruction....Walking on a loose leash simply means the dog walks along with you at YOUR speed but can be either on your left or right and can switch places at will. She must NOT pull the leash. The dog should keep you in sight and know when you change course or back up and will follow your footsteps, but not be beside your leg as in the “heel” command.

It’s a good idea to tire the dog out before starting leash sessions. Your dog will likely be full of energy and ready to jump and bounce all over the place with excitement. A dog with too much energy will pull you down the street and want to "run on leash, not "walk on leash" so play fetch or run in the backyard first.

Give your dog plenty of time to sniff and read p-mail. It’s a natural thing and it’s as much her outing as it is yours. Also, give her time to potty. If she slows down and starts looking for a spot and circles and sniffs, let her have time to do this. Give her several minutes to do her thing and then tell her “c’mon” and get her going again, "we;re going to walk on leash."

Walk at a fairly fast pace. This will keep the dog from reading too much p-mail. She will likely pass up smells she would have noticed had she been going slower. It also gives her a better quality exercise.

In the (likely) event your dog is hyper and overly excited when you get the leash out and indicate a walk is coming, she will need to be calmed down before you can do anything. Some dogs can get rather wild and boisterous over the idea of a walk or outing. If this happens, put the leash down, make her SIT and leave for a few minutes until she calms down. Trey again. Repeat this until she is able to go to the door without knocking you over. This part can push your patience, so watch out! (This is why you want the dog as tired as possible before you attempt to walk on leash.)

Lady and her Greyhound out
for a walk. Note the leash is loose and
the Greyhound is walking calmly beside her-->

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Walking on a loose leash allows your dog to walk almost anywhere she wants, from beside you to in front of you. The dog should NOT be behind you. If the dog is behind you, you don’t know what junk food, trash or bone she is picking up from the ground, or what other dog has wandered up. She may have stopped for a necessary potty call. Keep your dog in front and you know what is going on all the time. I speak from long time experience.

Tips For Walking On Leash

Controlled Standing Exercise:

Teach your dog to stand still with you as she would if you stopped to talk to people while walking.

Controlled Standing.

  • Hold the leash in your right hand with your left hand directly under your right hand on the leash.

  • Your left hand will slide down the leash to make a leash-correction if needed.

  • Leave a length of loose leash leading to the dog, but not long enough for the dog’s legs to get caught in.

  • Form an imaginary area around you, extending about three feet out from your body This is the area the dog is to remain in while you stand still.

    Notice how the dog is
    walking and the leash is loose.

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  • If the dog attempts to leave the imaginary area, give a little tug and release on the leash Repeat, tug and release until she is back in your “area.” Give praise.

  • Give praise and a treat when she is back in place. Repeat this over and over until she begins to understand she is to stand in your immediate area for as long as you are standing there. This is just basic dog obedience training.

  • The dog will quickly learn that it is more comfortable to stand near you because every time she tries to leave your area, she gets a correction on the lease and no praise or treat.

    You can also use the clicker very effectively for this training. Just add the clicker to the praise or replace the praise with the clicker. If you can get the dog to drop back into your “circle” zone without a leash correction and by using just the clicker, so much the better.

Secrets Of Loose Leash Walking

Controlled Walking Exercise:

  • A Controlled walk on leash starts off with your dog at your side and your hands on the leash the same as in Controlled Standing. Start walking at a normal pace. Be sure to leave plenty of slack in the leash.

  • If the dog starts to pull, slide your left hand down midway on the leash and give a mild tug and release correction; as necessary to let the dog know she’s not in your zone where she should be. Praise and "click" her when she gets into the right position.

  • Keep walking. If you feel the dog is about to tighten up on the leash, slide your hand down and do a quick tug and release again, over and over. Do NOT say anything to the dog. Let the slip collar do the correcting for you. Don’t forget to give plenty of praise when your dog does get back where she should be! Praise and clicks are the key!

  • Note — a slip collar only becomes a “choke collar” if you allow the dog to pull on it. By giving quick “tug” corrections, the dog will never be able to pull on the leash. It won’t take long for your dog to learn to walk on leash with you, not against you. She will be a joy to take out walking.

Again, the clicker can be used to great advantage. Another way to do this would be to use a regular collar and the clicker. Every time the dog falls back into the right position, give her a “click” (and a treat if you want.)

Walking On A Loose Leash — #2

Do everything the same as above except when the dog starts to walk on leash and pull or get out of line, STOP walking. Call the dog to you and have her SIT. When she quiets down, resume walking.

Repeat this over and over until she gets the idea she is to be in your “zone” where she gets the treats and/or the “CLICKS.”

Your Dog Must Pay Attention

In the basic dog training section above, controlled standing and the walk on leash were discussed. Part of dog training includes paying attention, something difficult for many dogs and certainly for puppies!

With your dog, start walking straight ahead. When you get out 12 feet or so, quietly start walking backward. If your dog is paying attention, she will turn around. If not, give a light tug and release on the leash. If the dog turns to look at you, praise her with a CLICK.

Only make a correction on the training collar (tug and release) when she is not looking at you. This exercise is only about getting her attention.

Keep backing up to the original starting point. Encourage the dog to follow you. When she reaches you, praise her and give her a treat and click.

Repeat the whole exercise. Just start walking and without saying anything, reverse direction and see if the dog is watching. If not, a mild tug and release, then praise when she looks back. Etc. Soon, she'll look forward to those walks on a loose leash!

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