Online Dog Training Lessons
Loose Lead Walking
Nobody enjoys walking a dog that pulls them all
around the neighborhood. It can be very exhausting, hanging on to a small dog that is constantly pulling you and
downright dangerous trying to control a large dog that is determined to pull you everywhere he wants you to go.
Why do they pull? I hate to say this, but they pull because you let them get away with it. They pull, you follow.
It works for them, so they keep doing it. How do you get them to stop pulling? Don’t let them pull you any more.
When your dog tries to pull you it should automatically engage your "Emergency brake." You should come to
an ABRUPT HALT, almost knocking them off their feet, and wait for them to come back to you so you can
try walking nicely again. And again. And again. Until they quit pulling.
Now, my idea of abrupt might be a little different
that your idea. Imagine a dog, if you will, tied by a cable to a tree. He's got plenty of space to roam around and he
usually keeps the cable loose. However, if he should spot a squirrel or some other interesting animal run by he will
probably take off like a shot and chase it. When he hits the end of the cable, what do you think will happen? Would
you say the tree stopped him rather abruptly. That's what I mean by an ABRUPT HALT. Be a tree.
Was it the tree's fault that he got stopped abruptly? Do you think the dog will now learn to have respect for the cable?
Before we get started, let me say that "Loose Lead Walking" is not the same as what obedience competitors
call "Heeling." Heeling is a very precise form of controlled walking where the dog assumes a position at your
left side, with his shoulder next to or slightly behind your leg, either standing, sitting or moving. The dog begins
walking when you move and stops and sits in heel position when you stop. He makes turns and about turns and
circles with you while remaining in heel position the entire time, neither forging nor lagging. Not many pet owners
care to train to this level of precision, so I will teach you how to get loose lead walking as well as controlled walking
that will make taking your dog for a walk a real pleasure for both of you.
Loose lead walking amounts to being able to walk your dog on a loose lead, with him at the end of the lead, sniffing
and enjoying his walk, without pulling you anywhere. He doesn’t have to be right next to you in heel position,
but he should not be pulling you anywhere. Controlled walking brings the dog next to you in a position close to
heeling, but not as precise, where you have more control over him, which would be necessary in traffic or any tight
spot you might be walking through.
These first two steps that I present will deal with loose lead walking only. You need to work on these steps until your dog
no longer pulls you along when you take him for a walk. Once you have accomplished that, you will be ready for
How Loose Lead Walking Progresses
STEP ONE - Get dog used to the feel of a loose lead - reward him any time the lead is loose
1) Any time the dog is standing quietly with a loose lead, C/T and praise for the loose lead.
2) If the lead tightens at any time, call dogs name and C/T when he loosens the lead by turning toward you.
OR better yet . . . comes to you.
3) Call your dog's name and when the dog turns toward you Click and put a treat by the outside of your left foot. When the
dog comes to you to eat the treat, move to the end of the leash and when he is done eating the treat, repeat the process
by calling his name again, click when he looks at you and place another treat by your left foot. Keep repeating this until
the dog stays close to you. This process helps to get your dog keyed in to your left foot. This will be where you want
him when you do controlled walking.
He is learning that a loose lead equals a reward and there is something special about your left foot.
STEP TWO - Introducing "Penalty Yards" - He will learn that the tight lead equals loosing ground.
1) Tell the dog, "Lets Go" and begin to walk forward. When your dog pulls you, simply stop and BACK UP to
where you started from. DO NOT TURN AROUND - just BACK UP away from him. You will be facing your
dog as he turns to look at you to see what‘s going on. You want the dog to realize that he is loosing ground.
If you turn around and go the other way he will just turn with you and pull in the other direction.
2) As soon as the dog comes to you, C/T, praise and begin again. Try having the dog sit next to you before
you begin walking. This will help put the dog in a controlled position before you even move forward.
The best place to practice this is in the driveway, where most dogs are anxious to get their walk underway and
will usually begin pulling you down the drive to get started. Penalty yards are also useful going through doors.
If your dog pulls you out the door, just back right back inside and CLOSE the door. Wait for a minute and begin again.
I've got a great success story about one of my students who used the penalty yards to solve a problem the day I taught
the concept in class. Click here to read her story.
As soon as you dog is not longer pulling you where
he wants to go, you can move on to Controlled
Walking. Remember to take your time and never let your dog pull you
again. You can use the page numbers below to move back and forth between the heeling pages if you want.