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Perfect Dog Walking: How to Leash Walk the Easy Way

  • Rule 1 Take it Slow.

If done correctly, these leash walking methods will work 99% of the time on almost any dog, but they can’t be rushed. Give yourself and your pet time to adjust to the environment as well as these precise dog walking techniques. In this case slower is definitely faster; skip steps and you are likely to ruin the process, needing to start all over again at the beginning.

To train your dog to walk nicely the right way, this will likely take weeks of slow, semi-daily to daily progression. Perfection could take even longer, but it is without a doubt in your grasp!

Start out with very minor walks outside around familiar environments (your house, sidewalk). For example, no further than the house next to yours and back at first. Slowly over time lengthen the walks.

  • Rule 2 Eliminate Distractions

Distractions are going to be your biggest enemy on the road to achieving perfect dog walking. This is why your dog pulls toward that unknown object or animal; you need to make your walking environment as calm as possible. If your neighborhood or the park is too busy, consider a nearby trail. It isn’t a good idea to begin training around a crowded place or a noisy area.

Redirection is a very popular training technique in which handlers will try to redirect their pet’s attention from that distraction or deal with leash reactivity, attempting to make themselves the most interesting thing around. Read more about lease reactivity for better understanding here.

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The Training Process

If done correctly, you should have your dog’s attention on you the entire time, sort of bypassing the need for re-direction. If you are already dealing with a leash reactive (aggressive) dog or one that is used to poor leash etiquette, read the linked article above before progressing further.

Be sure to make leash training a very pleasant, enjoyable experience for your pet! Avoid uncomfortable aversives like slip collars (choke chains), and don’t yell or become emotional no matter what your dog does.

  1. You will want to carry a pouch full of training rewards, something you can easily and quickly reach. Your local pet store will likely sell little packets of 1-500 tiny ‘training rewards’.
  2. Begin with your pup at a seated position. Speak the command ‘heel’, taking your first step, your dog moving by your side, simultaneously. At the exact second your second foot hits the pavement to complete that step, pop a training reward, casually offering it to your pup.
  3. Repeat the exact process- step: treat- then once more- step:treat. You should have your pups complete attention at this point, his eyes strongly focused on you. He isn’t pulling ahead or yanking out to the side, but waiting in anticipation!

This is best begun in a quiet area with as few distractions as possible; a back yard or fenced in yard is better than a city block. Keep in mind it will take some coordination on your part.

Most trainers recommend a 6 foot lead. Anything longer isn’t necessary, and anything shorter is probably too short.

Remember- both small breeds and puppies are delicate and easily injured. Think twice before attempting to tether/collar a young, reactive puppy. Never use a slip collar on a toy breed or a small puppy.

Slowly over time you’ll want to begin spacing those treats out. For example, the second walk try a treat every three steps, then every five, (5,5,7,7,9,12,12,etc.). You’ll want to try and extend the duration between treats so slowly that your pup doesn’t actively notice what you are doing.

This may seem like a lot of effort, until you consider this is the very basis for the dog walking perfection world class show dog trainers achieve.

So, you are having trouble leash walking? Does your pup yank you every which way, desperately trying to reach that hidden destination? Don’t worry; by following the method listed below, you’ll have your pup walking nicely in no time!

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