Loose Leash Walking for Dogs

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There are a lucky few with acreage who can get away with not training  loose leash skills but for the rest of us, leash skills are vital. Living in Portland without a yard means that Mr. N is on a leash the majority of the time we’re outdoors. So training good leash manners was a priority. Granted he’s tiny so pulling isn’t as big of an issue (although we did find out that he can pull a patio table after himself!) but it’s still annoying when dogs are pulling left and right and I wanted him to be able to walk politely.

Loose leash walking for dogs
Mr. N met his first peacock!

When I first started training Mr. N to walk on a loose leash after we got him, I used the “be a tree” method. Basically you stop if there’s any tension on the leash and pretend to be a tree and motionless and move forward if the leash is slack. It’s probably not the most efficient method but it worked. Even though it took forever and a half to get anywhere. It was a grueling two weeks but at the end of it, Mr. N got the concept that if he pulled, we weren’t moving. Consistency is key.

I tried using treats at first but quickly realized he was going to eat his weight in treats and switched to rewarding him for a loose leash with forward momentum. He enjoys walking so the real life reward worked nicely. Looking back, I’m still not sure how we got through it. He does have the odd moment of excitement when he sees another dog or squirrel but I’d say he walks on a loose leash 99.9 percent of the time and that’s fine with me.

I also used a front hook harness and tried changing directions but being really consistent about not moving forward if he was pulling was what worked for us. There’s other methods including silky leash and the 300 peck method but I haven’t tried those yet.

How did you train your dog to walk on a loose leash?

Loose leash walking for dogs
Walking by a peacock is the ultimate test of loose leash walking. They’re not very fast… and they flutter!

Welcome to First Monday’s Positive Pet Training Blog Hop hosted by Tenacious Little Terrier, Travels with Barley and Wag ‘n Woof Pets. Please share your responsible pet owner positive pet training tips by linking a blog post or leaving a comment below. Our theme for this month is Transportation but any positive reinforcement training posts or comments are also always welcome. The Positive Pet Training Blog Hop goes all week long.

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8 Responses

  1. Jana Rade

    July 6, 2018 5:31 pm

    Cookie can walk on leash quite nicely. Unless she sees something she must try to go after; she’d be willing to jump off a bridge for a squirrel. I don’t know if she could ever be untaught that since it’s clear that it is sheer instinct.

    Reply
  2. irenemchugh

    July 6, 2018 7:35 pm

    Mr. N pulling a patio table is a sight I’d like to see! I could see Lizzie surprising me with that one someday. I like the “be a tree” method combined with engagement. I was more consistent with making Bernie look up at me before we’d move on. I had to add the engagement otherwise, he’d sit politely and just stare at the world around him happily. With Lizzie I’ve found turning around and walking in the opposite direction works well. She seems to respond well to a few turns back and forth. She catches on quickly and walks next to me much more happily.

    Reply
  3. Pamela

    July 7, 2018 11:07 am

    My last dog was such a severe puller that the tree didn’t work. So I tried turning and walking in the opposite direction every time she pulled. But pulling was so constant, I was literally spinning in circles on the sidewalk. At one point, I feel over because I was dizzy.

    In the end, I relied on management instead of training. At least I bled a lot less.

    BTW, another great reason to teach even small dogs not to pull is that a leash becomes a huge tripping hazard when any dog tries to go in a different direction from his person.

    Reply
  4. Cathy Armato

    July 7, 2018 3:30 pm

    I have to comment on that gorgeous photo of the peacock! Spectacular shot. Training Icy to walk without pulling was a huge challenge, probably because she’s a Husky so she was basically bred to pull. The main thing that saved me was getting a no pull harness (w/ the leash ring at the chest).
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    Reply
  5. Dorothy "FiveSibesMom"

    July 8, 2018 6:14 am

    Great tips! I had to laugh about Mr. N eating his way through the treats…oh, that is our Chloe! She hasn’t met a treat she does not like! I could see me having a fatter dog after walking! How did Mr. N like that pretty (handsome) peacock?! I’m with Cathy, other than my one Husky Gibson who was an amazing walker on (or off leash, which was in my backyard only), these four get so excited to be on leash, you think they were running the Iditarod! I need the strength of Wonder Woman at times! And to think I took 3 out at a time myself! Our Harley, she always has to be “lead dog” and if one of the others are ahead of her by a nose, she will dig in and pull her “sled” (me!)! They have all mellowed now with age, but the jingle of the leash and collar still brings out those sled dog instincts! (They have never pulled a sled! I always joke that three of them would prefer to be in the sled being pulled)! My secret weapon is the same as Cathy’s – a no-pull harness, plus I still have a backup of collar and leash that I use to help with “steering” or guiding them. Works like a charm (and that’s how I could walk multiple at one time)!

    Reply
  6. Beth

    July 8, 2018 6:55 pm

    I’m not sure that Barley could handle walking by a peacock loosely! She’s so scared of birds that I think she’d be pulling me as far away from that thing as she possibly could 🙂 Mr. N is so smart and brave!

    Reply
  7. Jan K

    July 14, 2018 5:15 pm

    Ha, I think Luke would forget all of his training if he saw a peacock! I’m impressed that the “be a tree” method worked for you and Mr. N. You obviously have far more patience than I do. 🙂

    Reply

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