Walking on a loose leash beside us is one of the least natural things we ask dogs to do and they find this really hard!
It’s a tricky one for humans too as we find it difficult to consistently stick to the loose leash walking rules. So there’s the first challenge: we need to stick to the training rules every time so that our dogs have a chance to learn how to walk nicely on lead.
Tips for teaching loose leash walking
- Using a harness to walk and train your dog is often the best (and healthiest) option, especially for small breed dogs.
- Work on loose leash walking where there is less distraction for your dog, such as in your home, and you can try to use one of your dog’s meals each day to work on these exercises.
- Establish a reward zone around you so that your dog learns that good things (food) come from being close to you.
- Each time you start to practice in a new area, go back to the first steps and build again.
- Once the lead is on, the red light/green light rule is in place:
- - Stop dead if there is pressure on the lead.
- Move forward when the dog moves to release that pressure.
A not-pulling-lead looks like a smile and a loose-leash-walking lead looks like a ‘J’.
- Use your dog’s regular food for practicing this exercise in low distraction situations, but use higher value food rewards when practicing in more distracting situations e.g. on the footpath/grass.
- All exercise should start at home and then move into garden and finally onto the street.