How Long Does Loose Leash Training Take?Nov 08, 2023
Just as important as food and water for a dog is exercise. For most dog owners, exercise often comes from dog walking. When a dog is walked regularly, its mental and physical health can improve, leading to a longer, more enriched life. However, many dog owners avoid walking their dog because they find that the dog often pulls on their leash. To prevent pulling or tugging on a leash, dog owners must train them to walk with a loose leash.
What Is Loose Leash Training?
Loose leash training teaches a dog how to walk beside you on a loose leash, also called loose leash walking. With loose leash walking, the goal is for the dog to be walking close to its owner's side—not in front and not behind. If the dog is walking close to the owner's side, its leash will naturally be loose, and there will be no tugging or pulling.
Loose leash walking can be instilled in dogs of any age.
Why Train Loose Leash Walking to a Dog
Aside from the benefits walking has to a dog, like improved health, loose leash walking helps to teach a dog how to ignore distractions while walking. When a dog knows how to walk past surrounding distractions, like noises and smells, the walks are more enjoyable and often longer. In essence, loose-leash walking benefits everyone!
Loose leash walking is more enjoyable for dog walkers, too. If you walk your dog often, you may notice that pulling on the leash may be causing trips or falls. You can keep yourself safe from injury with a well-trained dog in loose leash walking.
How to Train A Dog To Walk On a Loose Leash
Suppose you'd like to train your dog to use a loose leash; set aside a period of at least eight to ten minutes a day just for dog training. From there, take the following simple steps:
1. Prepare for Loose Leash Walking
When you are ready to use a loose leash with your dog, make sure you have a leash that will work for loose leash walking with you. Do not use a retractable leash; consider using a six-foot nylon, leather or biothane leash instead.
Before you place your dog on the leash, clear a distraction-free space large enough for you to walk in a few circles. Working indoors at first is recommended because distractions outdoors cannot always be controlled, and we want to set your dog up for success. You will also want to have a bag of high-value training treats with you.
Attach the leash to your dog's collar or harness and stand beside your dog, leaving just a foot of space between you.
2. Begin Loose Leash Walking
To begin loose leash dog training, walk forward just a few steps and notice how your dog reacts. If your dog follows alongside you, reward the dog with a small treat and praise the dog in a way it will understand, such as by saying "yes" or clicking your tongue. If your dog does not follow you, encourage the dog to walk beside you by patting your leg, encouraging them with your voice by using a treat to lure them along, and making sure to reward the dog with a treat when the leash becomes loose. Stop and wait if your dog follows you but continues to walk beyond you, with or without tugging on its leash. Be patient; once the leash is loose, mark it with a ‘yes’ and give the dog a treat.
Repeat the process of walking forward and noting your dog's responses, rewarding the dog each time as appropriate. You may walk in a straight line or a circle and walk both at a fast pace and a slow pace. Remember to practice for at least five minutes for effective results.
3. Loose Leash Training Adding More Difficulty
To effectively train a dog to use a loose leash, you want to perform loose leash training at least once a day for multiple weeks. If you have extra time, such as on weekends, consider having two or three training sessions a day.
After at least a week of loose leash training, you may increase the difficulty of the loose leash training sessions. You can do this first by trying the movement in different rooms with different surroundings, and this will teach the dog to use a loose leash in all environments, not just in the living room. You can also begin adding distractions to the rooms where you perform loose leash training.
When you start adding distractions to the mix, be sure to add all types of distractions - different distractions that can stimulate all five of your dog's senses. Some good distractions you can challenge your dog with include a television, a radio, a rug on the floor, a scented candle and toys on the floor. Add no more than one distraction a day to your loose-leash training sessions, and once you feel you have provided more than enough distractions, you can take your dog outdoors, where there are countless distractions, and the real work begins.
It's important to remember that your dog will need time to adjust to the increasing difficulty of loose leash training. Refrain from expecting your dog to ignore new distractions immediately. Refrain from disciplining your dog if they get distracted. If another dog walks by, they are bound to lose focus. Instead of getting frustrated, reward your dog for good behaviour during loose leash training.
Many factors go into deciding how long it will take to teach a dog proper loose-leash walking skills. However, you can expect to spend about three to four weeks training a dog to use a loose leash if you want to see results.
The older a dog is, the more difficult it may be to train them to utilize a loose leash. This is because older dogs are already likely accustomed to walking a certain way, and it may take longer to break those old habits. However, it can be easier to train an older dog to use a loose leash than a younger dog in some ways because older dogs often already know commands like "sit" and "stay," whereas young pups will need time to learn what a simple "yes" and "no" means before beginning loose leash training.
On the other hand, younger dogs can sometimes be trained to use a loose leash very quickly because they are still learning how to behave on a leash. Again, puppies sometimes need to be trained in other ways, which may delay the loose leash training process.
No matter how old your dog is, you can teach your dog loose leash walking much faster if you practice loose leash walking with the dog in frequent, short, daily sessions. This said, if you stick to training your dog with a loose leash two to three times a day every day, you can see results as early as just two weeks.