Loose Leash Walking
Walking your dog should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your canine companion. Unfortunately, it can become a chore if they do not walk well on leash. Pulling your arm out of the socket or getting worked up when they see other dogs, skateboarders, cats, etc. is not fun for anyone! I hope the following information helps you enjoy loose leash walking and your dog.
It’s best if you and your dog start the walk in a calm state. If you have the type of dog that barges out of the front door at the beginning of the walk and is super amped up, try to curb their excitement. Having them sit before you walk through doorways, allowing you to walk through the doorway first, may help. Ideally, your dog should be walking next to you on a short, loose leash. If they start pulling or getting in front of you, change directions and walk the opposite direction they are pulling. Avoid walking in a straight line and continue to change directions to keep them on their toes. You may look a little silly walking in diagonals and circles, but they should eventually learn that they need to pay attention to whomever is walking them or they won’t get very far on their walk.
It’s important to keep them calm and focused on you. If your dog is food motivated, carrying high value treats with you may help. These treats will prove especially useful if your dog tends to get a little too excited when they see other dogs, skateboarders, bicyclists, cats/squirrels, etc. If you or your dog see something that normally excites them and causes them to pull, distract them with the treat. Ideally, getting your dog to sit and focus on you with their back towards the stimulus will be the most effective tactic. As long as your dog is focused on you, give them the treat. It is fine if they glance at the stimulus, but do not allow them to fixate on it.
Your dog can pick up on your emotions, therefore it is also important to focus on your state of mind. When walking your dog, the arm that is holding the leash should be relaxed, next to your side. You should try to maintain a confident posture with your shoulders back and chin up, while taking deep breaths is key. Remaining calm, cool and collected may help your dog relax.
Try a doggie backpack! Wearing a backpack gives your dog something to focus on (walking while carrying the backpack) and may tire them quicker. Below are a couple of Amazon links:
- 2PET Dog Saddlebags – Compact Dog Backpack for Hiking
- OneTigris Dog Pack Hound Travel Camping Hiking Backpack Saddle Bag Rucksack
If you have been working with your dog on loose leash walking and they are not improving, it may be time to evaluate your walking tools. Collars and slip leashes should fit at the top of the neck, at the base of the skull for optimum control. It should be snug, but loose enough to slip two fingers underneath the collar. If you aren’t having success with your current collar, harness or leash, it could be that they don’t fit your dog properly. The following is a list of different walking tools with links to YouTube videos on how to fit them properly.
- Fitting Gentle Leader: PetSafe® Gentle Leader – How To Fit In Under Two Minutes
- Fitting Easy Walk Harness: PetSafe® Easy Walk Harness Fitting and Use
- Fitting a martingale collar
- Different slip leads: here, here, and here
Note: Any walking tool that is used incorrectly, damaged or fits improperly can cause harm to the animal.