Training your dog to walk on a loose leash will make walks so much more enjoyable for both you and your dog. Here are some tips to master loose-leash walking:
Dress for success!
Use walking equipment that feels comfortable for you and your dog. A well fitted harness is a safe way to explore the outdoors with your pet. Although some harnesses are marketed as “no-pull”, you still need to teach your dog to walk on leash without charging ahead. Dogs pull for many reasons, most commonly because we inadvertently reinforce the behavior. If your dog has a habit of pulling, choose a new harness that fits properly and does not restrict their shoulders or natural gait. You can find harnesses that we recommend at our Shelter Shop such as the Freedom Harness, Ruffwear Front Range Harness, or Puppy One Air Flex for small dogs.
Learn the ropes
Using a short leash may make you feel more in control, but your dog will soon learn to walk with constant tension on the leash. Practicing loose leash skills indoors or in your backyard gives you and your dog the confidence to take on what lies beyond your front door. Practicing in less distracting areas first benefits the dog and the handler. We recommend using a six foot or longer leash for most dogs.
Let them check their daily “pee-mail”
Give your dog plenty of time to investigate the latest news by sniffing the environment. For most dogs, daily walks are more about mental enrichment than physical exercise. By letting your dog sniff for as long as they want, you are encouraging them to unwind, lower their heart rate, and exercise their six million olfactory receptors. Pulling your dog away from that “boring” tree is like turning off your favorite Netflix show right before the season finale ending.
We control so much of our pet’s lives, so why not let them choose what they prefer once in awhile? See which direction they would like to walk, or if they’d like to roll around on the grass or relax by the park bench and watch the squirrels. If your pet cowers when the leash comes out, consider letting them stay inside to play a game of tug or learn new tricks in the yard instead. If your dog seems “stubborn” when the leash is on, chances are they are overwhelmed, frightened, or may even be in pain. It’s okay to delay a walk or eschew them altogether if your dog isn’t enjoying them.
Better safe than sorry
Carry treats and a squeaky toy with you just in case you drop the leash or encounter an off-leash dog. You can use these items to distract the other dog or entice your own dog to follow you. Consider carrying citronella spray for deterring wildlife. And, of course, always have pet waste bags handy.
Need more advice to improve your dog’s leash skills? Schedule a behavior consultation with the Pasadena Humane behavior team. We’re here to help!
Want to learn more? Join us Thursday, June 24 at 1pm on Instagram Live as we discuss tips and tricks for loose-leash walking with one of our trainers.