Learning to walk on a leash is a critical skill. Even if you live somewhere your dog can be free, there are times they need to be leashed.
My criteria for good leash skills are a dog who can walk without pulling and stay on one side or the other without impeding my movement. Like any training, success depends on thorough and consistent practice and clear communication.
Dogs who already pull hard.
This is a great exercise for any dog who already has a strong (pun intended!) history of reward for pulling – getting where they want to go!
7. Any pulling, stop moving and go back to step 2.
If you can’t get past step 2, find somewhere quieter to train.
Loose leash walking – basic training.
Using a verbal marker (or a clicker) can make things much clearer for your dog.
It marks the moment your dog is doing the behaviour you want – like taking a snapshot of that moment and showing it to your dog. A verbal marker can be “Yes!” or “Good!” or any single syllable word. When you mark or click, always follow with a treat.
3. Repeat step 2, gradually increasing the steps you walk between treats.
Don’t give your dog a treat after they pull and come back or you will begin teaching a “yo-yo” behaviour – pull, come back, get a treat – repeat step 2 instead.
When your dog is walking well, you can treat less but praise often. Moving on and having opportunities to sniff can maintain leash skills. However, I recommend continuing to use treats occasionally, especially passing by other dogs.
For more leash training including tips for puppies and small dogs, video examples and equipment choices, visit dogpartners. ca/loose_leash_walking.