No matter what dog you have big, small, young, or old, loose leash training for dogs is an essential skill to teach your pup so that your pup learns not to pull and drag you down the road!
What is loose leash training for dogs?
Loose leash training for dogs is essentially about teaching your pup to walk without pulling on the leash so that there isn’t constant tension on the leash while on a walk, instead just a relaxed “loose” leash.
You’ve likely seen what loose leash walking looks like, you know when owners have their leash relaxed with slack instead of holding onto the leash tight the whole time because your dog pulls.
Why You Should Teach Your Dog Loose Leash Training
Loose leash training is an essential skill to teach any dog especially if you want to enjoy your walks instead of getting a shoulder workout because your dog pulls.
Loose leash walking is essentially about creating a nonverbal communication system with your dog through the leash alone so that your dog begins to have a clear understanding of what you’re asking of him/her through the leash!
Loose Leash Walking Equipment
To begin loose leash training for dogs you first want to have the correct equipment so that you set your dog up to be successful and start on the right paw!
Below is a list of the top 3 types of equipment we recommend loose leash training for dogs:
Slip Lead: For dogs who are “happy go lucky” and are just a bit of a “knucklehead” we recommend a slip leash which is a leash and a training collar all in one
Prong Collar: For dogs that have a long history of being heavy pullers we recommend the prong collar for loose leash training for dogs. ( to learn more about the prong collar read blog here)
Treats: Grab your dog’s favorite treats so we can reward your pup for correct behavior.
How To begin Loose Leash Training For Dogs
Now that we have the correct equipment for training your dog how to walk on a loose leash let’s hop into teaching your pup how to walk on a loose leash.
When We teach a dog to walk on a loose leash we essentially want your pup in the “heel” position. For those who may not know the “heel” position is when your dog’s front paws are either at your heels or behind.
We do this so that your dog learns to walk with us instead of trying to lead us everywhere.
Whether you’re using the slip lead or prong collar, the process is the same.
About Face Method
The first way to begin teaching your pup to walk on a loose leash is the “about-face method.”
Essentially whenever your pup begins to walk ahead of you or begin to pull, you want to stop and completely turn around in the opposite direction that your dog was initially pulling.
The point of this drill is to begin teaching your pup to follow you and respond to the leash instead of leading you the whole walk!
Stop and Go
Once you have practiced the “about-face method” The very next thing we want to do is the “stop and go method”
Now that you have practiced the “about-face method” your pup should have a basic understanding of how to follow you and the leash.
The next step is teaching your pup to stay in the “heel” position.
That way your pup isn’t always trying to walk ahead of you.
The way to practice the stop and go is very simple.
All you need is a sidewalk with cracks!
To begin you’ll have your dog in the heel position as usual but this time, you’re going to stop with your feet stepping on the line on the sidewalk using the leash at the same time to prevent your pup from walking ahead of you.
The point of this drill is to use the line on the sidewalk as a measuring guide to gauge whether or not your dog is ahead of you.
If when you stop on the line of the sidewalk your pup is over the line then you know your dog is already walking ahead of you.
If you stop and your pup is behind the line on the sidewalk good job, that’s exactly what we want!
If you’re struggling with having your pup stop behind the line on the sidewalk, then be sure to use the leash to stop your pup before your dog gets the opportunity to walk ahead of the “heel” position”
Reward, Reward, Reward
Paired with the previous drills the last piece of the puzzle is rewarding your pup for staying in the heel position through the walk!
To do this all you need is your pup’s favorite treats.
When you’re on a walk with your pup and notice that your dog is walking nicely with a loose leash be sure to say “good” and reward your pup!
Remember that behaviors that get rehearsed and rewarded will continue t get stronger so be sure to stay consistent with your pup when working on these drills
The truth is if you give your pup an inch your pup will likely take a mile.
That means consistency is key because if you allow your pup to get away with pulling after these drills you’ll have a dog that begins to “test” to see if he/ she can get away with pulling.
Loose leash training for dogs is about consistency while, taking the time to practice each of the drills so that your pup begins to learn your new expectation on how to walk on a leash.
Receive your free dog training consultation and set your pup up for success!