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Loose Leash Walking Tips

Loose leash walking is one of the most common behaviors dog parents struggle with. Most dogs love to explore their surroundings, and without proper training, they will likely pull on the leash in an effort to get to the interesting things they smell and see. This behavior can be very frustrating and make it challenging to enjoy a walk.

However, with patience, consistency, and the right techniques, you can teach your dog to walk on a loose leash. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is an essential tool in training your dog to walk on a loose leash. Whenever your dog is walking calmly beside you, reward them with treats, or better yet - teach them “go sniff” as a cue to get access to the thing they wanted to explore in the first place.

  • Start in a Low-Distraction Environment

It's easier to teach your dog to walk on a loose leash in a low-distraction environment, such as your living room or backyard. By starting in a low distraction environment, your dog will have a better learning environment and be able to focus on the lesson. Once your dog has mastered walking on a loose leash with little to no distractions, you can gradually increase the level of distraction slowly and continue to reinforce the learned LLW behavior.

  • Teach Your Dog to look at you

Another foundational skill essential to bringing LLW on the road is an auto check in and/or default attention to you. Start in a low distraction environment. Place a treat on the ground in front of your dog and when he eats it then looks up at you - mark the moment he makes eye contact and repeat. This helps your dog learn that paying attention to you is rewarding.

  • Use a Front-Clip Harness

Using a front-clip harness can help you gain more control over your dog's movement. When your dog pulls on the leash, the front clip of the harness will turn them around, redirecting their attention back to you. When they redirect towards you there is an opportunity to reinforce.

  • Change Directions

Teach “this way” and change directions when your dog is or may pull towards something or someone. Reinforce the direction change with a treat next to you and then release your dog with a “go sniff” so they can explore what they were originally interested in.

  • Be Consistent

Consistency is key when teaching loose leash walking. Make sure everyone who walks your dog uses the same training techniques and rewards good behavior regularly.

In conclusion, teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash is essential for both their safety and your enjoyment. Remember to use positive reinforcement, start in a low-distraction environment, teach your dog to pay attention, use a front-clip harness, practice regularly, and be consistent. With patience and persistence, you can teach your dog to walk on a loose leash and enjoy fun, engaging and stress-free walks together

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