Training Tip Tuesday – Leash Skills (Part 3)


By: Margaux Meyer

The Volunteer Trainers at Ruff Start Rescue have started a new initiative to post a quick and easy tip every Tuesday! Look for a new tip every Tuesday or use the hashtag #TrainingTipTuesday on social media to find them all!
For #TrainingTipTuesday, I’m back for another tip on leash skills!
A good way to begin practicing leash skills is to start practicing in short sessions in easy places without the distractions of a regular walk.
Easy Space: Start practicing loose leash walking in a place that’s easy for your dog to concentrate. Instead of starting on the street with lots of distractions and new smells, first practice inside your house, in your yard, or driveway or parking lot. Walk in circles or in a regular pattern and encourage your dog to walk near you, giving treats and rewarding when they’re close or the lease is loose. The goal is to help the dog stay engaged with you and stay close.
Short Sessions: When you first start leash training, practice for just a few minutes every few days. Don’t stress about making every walk a loose leash walk— know that leash skills will be built over weeks and months. Practice a few minutes a day separately from your normal potty or exercise walks. If you or the dog get frustrated, take a few days off and next time you practice for a shorter amount of time.
Before the Leash: Sometimes the leash is distracting and engrained as a bad habit. Try practicing walking with an extra long leash or no leash at all. Keep the dog engaged with you by treating frequently, walking fast then slow, and changing direction. Every time the dog looks at you, give them a treat. The goal is to encourage the dog to stay engaged and close to you, which you can build on when you add a leash or move outside.
Some dogs pull for the first half of a walk but settle for the second half. That’s great! Reward your dog for walking well the second half of the walk — they’ll slowly get the picture and will start to walk a little better earlier.
Don’t forget your treats! Bring 1-2 cups of treats (or maybe part of the dog’s dinner!) to make sure you are rewarding constantly.
Here’s a video I like that shows how to start practicing leash skills :
Blog and graphic by Margaux Meyer, one of Ruff Start Rescue’s volunteer trainers, who focus on supporting our fosters and helping create successful dogs. She owns and operates A Better Walk Dog Training (