How to Train Your Dog to Walk Without a Lead

Did you ever see a dog owner and go green with envy that their dog was perfectly well behaved walking without a lead, whereas your dog was all for dragging you through a hedge and across a field? What sort of magic dust or hypnotism did they employ to get the dog to do that? Well, with a little practice and some repetition, you could be the one with your dog happily walking without a lead at your heel.

Firstly you will need to have a couple of different leads and a training collar (either a choke collar or head halter collar). The leads you will need are a short lead about 50 cm long, a regular lead of about 2 meters and a good quality extendible lead. One thing to always remember is that you are the boss. You are taking your dog for a walk and not the other way round!

The first step: Using the short lead and a control collar, train your dog to walk to heel whilst you have good control. Practice this every time you go for a walk and praise the dog when he does good and says no, pulling him back to heel when he transgresses.

The second step, when your dog has learned to walk to heel at your given command is to use the extendable leash. Start with the leash locked at about 1 -2 meters and walk with your dog at heel. Slowly extend the leash so there is ample slack when the dog is at heel. This means you are getting the dog used to walking at heel but can still stop him from running off or remind him if he forgets what he is supposed to be doing. Praise the dog for correct behavior and if he forgets, bring the lead back in to short and let him know what he should be doing.

The third step is to walk the dog using the regular lead with the control collar. By the time you get to this stage the dog should have a good understanding of what is acceptable behavior and should not be pulling on the lead at all (but it is still attached just in case)

When the dog has mastered this and you find that you never have to pull the lead to bring him back to heel, you can now move towards using no lead at all.

By following these simple phases in training your dog you are conditioning the dog right at the start that the area of up to a meter or so from the side and rear of your foot is where it belongs and, as you allow more freedom, that conditioning remains. Dogs will want to stop and go to the toilet or snuffle in the hedgerow as you walk but the conditioning will remain and you will see the 'oops' moment when your dog looks up and realizes he is not in the correct place.

As a responsible pet owner, it is worth mentioning that you should obey the law and, for safety, always have your dog on a lead on busy roads and anywhere where there is livestock.

It is advisable when you get your new pet not to waste the valuable window of time in the early days by not implementing proper training. To do this, you can consult a pet behavior specialist or training school in your area. It can be far less expensive, however, to learn the basic training techniques yourself

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