lovely loose leash walking:
1, 2, 3 - Follow me!
Walks with your dog are much more enjoyable when your dog is beside you on a loose leash instead of pulling ahead of you! Loose leash walking is a skill that takes patience, consistency and practice. It's much easier if you start this from puppyhood but don't worry if your dog has pulled on the leash for years - you can still teach them new habits! Read on for some handy tips to help you and your dog enjoy your walks together again.
Theoretically, you should be able to teach loose leash walking using a piece of string attached to the dog’s collar! However, in the interests of practicality and safety, the best equipment to use is a good fitting harness which doesn’t block shoulder movement (the ones with the padded Y front across the chest are great) with a good quality two-length leash attached to it (shorter leash for more control around distractions and longer length for greater sniffing opportunities). Check the leash and harness clips to ensure they won’t break. A harness does not encourage the dog to pull unless they already have a prior association of pulling with it and if they do have an association with it, find a different harness to create a new no-pulling association.
Start without using a leash (yes, that’s right, no leash!) in a low distraction environment, like your lounge room. Continue off leash in fenced areas like your back yard, then your front yard, then a fenced tennis court. When you add the leash, it should be for management purposes only as your dog should already be walking nicely beside you - just in case they become distracted.
3. Follow Me!
The principles of loose leash walking are essentially teaching your dog to follow you, not the other way around, and rewarding your dog for being beside you and focused on you. Beside you is the best place for your dog to be because that’s where they love to hang out and all the good stuff happens. Practice games that encourage closeness. When dogs pull on the lead they are rewarded by getting where they want to go and we get pulled along behind them. Instead, you want to reprogram your dog’s though process so that they think having a loose leash is what enables them to move forward.
Happy loose leash walking!