Leash walking. Both the joy and the bane of many dog owners’ existence.
I love discussing the topic of leash walking with clients because it is a universal struggle. No matter where you live or what kind of dog you have, you have likely run into problems with leash walking. It’s also also love telling clients that this issue can be managed!
There are a lot of issues that can help while walking your dog. They could pull you most of the way down the block. They can swerve back and forth like they’ve had a few too many drinks. They could dart off at any passing object. Or they could just be plain old hard to hold on to.
What I like to teach my clients is that your dog needs to learn to rules of leash before they can break them. This means dogs need to learn to walk politely and on a loose leash during “training walks” before they can return to their leisurely sniffing strolls.
So what are the rules of leash walking?
The first rule is for you. Get comfortable holding the leash. Sometimes it’s hard to hold treats, a leash, clickers, poop bags, etc. So practice when you don’t have a dog on the other end. That way you’ll be comfortable and confident when it comes time to walk.
Next you’ll want to dog to learn where the “reward zone” is and stay there. The reward zone is on your left side at your thigh. This is the traditional heel position. If your dog stays there while you’re walking, reward them! In the beginning you may need to treat them with each step.
Third, if your dog walks away from you or hits the end of the leash stop and wait for them to either look back at you or come back to you. Reward them and start again. Do not be tempted to pull your dog (unless there is something potentially dangerous happening). Let them make the choice to stay with you.
Lastly, start out with small walks in a controlled area, like your yard, until your dog builds the necessary focus to walk in more distracting areas.
We’re happy to help you teach your dog better leash walking skills. Check out our Behavior Walk section to learn more about this unique service!