How do I get my dog to walk on a loose lead?
The best place to start your loose leash walking training is in the house. Wait for a quiet time with very little distractions. Up and down a hallway or around a large table is ideal.
Decide which side you want your dog to walk. It is important that the hand nearest your dog holds the treats. Let’s say you will walk your dog on the left, so place your treats in your left hand and hold the lead in your right.
Position your dog on your left and take one step forward. If your dog is with you, give him a treat. Take another step forward encouraging your dog to walk beside you with a pat to your leg and some happy positive words – all the time reinforce the choice to be close to you on a loose lead with those treats.
Take it slow right now. You don’t have to walk fast as long as your dog keeps with you. If he gets in front or pulls away, change direction and encourage him with a treat to come back to your left leg. You want your dog to think your left leg is the best place to be. Use a word to label what you are doing. Perhaps ‘close’ or ‘let’s go’. The name of the game is to keep that lead loose.
Repeat this training until you think your dog understands what you want from him. Once you are both doing well, take your training out into your yard. Repeat everything you have done but this time walk around your garden up and down your driveway. Once you are succeeding there, take your training to the footpath outside your home.
Keeping that lead loose, walk up and down the front of your home encouraging your dog to walk with you just like you did inside your home. You might like to go a little further afield with your walking but not too far. Remember you are teaching your dog to walk on a loose lead not taking your dog for a walk.
One last thing, remember that your dog’s most powerful sense is his nose. Give your dog time to ‘smell the roses’ because this can be more tiring than actually walking.