Leash training

Loose-leash dog training: the best way to train your dog – Part 4

When on-leash, your dog needs to learn to walk with you, not against you. To keep the leash loose, the dog needs to stay tuned to your verbal and hand signals, and pace itself to your speed.

Michelle Kirk, a local pet sitter in Pacific Beach of San Diego, California, uses a training clicker (a small plastic device that makes a clicking sound when you push a button) and treats to teach dogs to walk on a loose leash. Start in a quiet area without many distractions. Begin walking, but stop when the dog reaches the end of the leash, before it actually starts pulling.

Stand still, watching for the moment the dog shifts its attention back to you. “At the first sign of the dog turning its head in your direction, click,” Michelle says. “Then walk slowly backwards as the dog approaches you to claim its reward. Hand it the treat when it reaches you, then turn in a different direction and start walking. Repeat this sequence any time the dog goes to the end of the leash.”

Michelle notes that it’s important to stop before the leash becomes tight. This way the dog learns to check in with you when it feels slight leash pressure. After you teach this in a quiet place, practice walking in new areas with gradually increasing distractions.

Regain attention & reward

One of the top dog training centers in San Diego, California teaches its students to make it rewarding for their dogs to walk near them. When the dog gets to the end of the leash, the trainer stops walking, then encourages the dog to come back to him. When it does, the trainer makes a happy fuss over the dog and gives it a treat.

Then the trainer encourages the dog to walk a few steps at his side and rewards it. After that, he allows it to relax, sniff and check things out, showing the dog places that might hold interesting scents, repeated as often as necessary.

Quick tip about choosing a dog collar

A lesson on leash walking wouldn’t be complete without making a few collar recommendations. In essence, there are two basic collar types – those that constrict when the leash is pulled and those that don’t.

Obviously, the preferred collar we recommend for loose-leash training (or any training for that matter) is the non-constricting type, simply because they cause less discomfort and no potential injury to the dog. They are made of leather or fabric, and they fasten around the dog’s neck with either a buckle or quick-release snap.