How To Train Your Dog To Walk Without A Leash

When many people take their dogs out for a walk, they do so with a leash which is the recommended way to walk a dog as it helps to keep the dog under control on walks. Even though it is better to walk your dog with a leash, walking him/her without one is doable, but it will require you to establish trust with your dog. That is because the outside world is full of distractions of all kinds and so it can be tempting for your dog to stray from you during the walk.

So, to help with establishing trust with your dog, I am going to walk you through how to walk a dog using a leash first. After that, I will walk you through how to train your dog to walk without a leash. You want to be in a situation where your dog will walk right on your side as you go.

1. Get Some Things Ready

(Photo courtesy of Basset Hound via Wikimedia)

Let’s start things off by ensuring that you have some things ready for this dog walking training. Starting with the leash, the BAAPET dog leash is by far the most comfortable one for handling your dog. Next up is the harness. The BARKBAY No Pull Dog Harness Front Clip is a great option as it will allow you to keep your dog under control on walks without injuring his/her neck.

And finally, you will want to get some delicious treats to motivate your dog to do your bidding. The Canine Carry Outs Dog Treats is great for training your dog. They come in many different flavors, like chicken and hot dog for example, and they are also quite soft which your dog will love.

2. Train Your Dog To Heel Using A Leash

Now that you have got the things I mentioned above, you are all set to start training your dog to heel with a leash. I recommend that you start this training inside your home since it has little to no distractions. You also want to be careful not to rush this training. Yes, I know you want quick results, but this is most likely going to take some time. Put the harness on your dog and attach it to the leash.

The next thing to do is to have your dog sit down. Assuming that your dog already knows how to sit down, you just need to give him/her the sit command to get him/her to do so. Once your dog has sat down, show him/her the treat by holding it in front of his/her nose so that he/she knows you have it. Just be careful that your dog doesn’t catch the treat.

Now, take just a few steps forward while still holding the treat in front of your dog to help guide him/her along. Say the word “heel” just as you are starting to take a few steps forward. If your dog follows right alongside you, praise and reward him/her with a treat. Repeat this a few more time and then you can start to slowly increase the number of steps that you and your dog can move forward together side by side.

After some time practicing this with your dog, he/she will eventually get the hang of the process. You should then be ready to advance to your yard. Once there, restart the process that I mentioned above by starting with only a few steps forward. Say the word “heel” just as you are starting to walk forward with the treat as a guide. Continue to practice this in the yard by gradually increase the number of steps once every few times.

Don’t forget to praise and reward your dog with a treat for following right alongside you. Once you are confident that your dog is getting it, you can move onto the sidewalks. Because of all the distractions out there, this is where the real challenge lies. So, start slow by only walking to the house that neighbor yours. Sit your dog down and remind him/her of the treat. Then say the word “heel” and start walking with the treat as a guide.

(Photo courtesy of Eric Sonstroem via Flickr)

If your dog makes it to the next house by walking right at your side, praise and reward him with a treat for it. Repeat this process a few more times and if your dog does right by you each time, then you can start to add an additional house to lengthen the walk from your house and so on. After a great deal of practice, you should be able to get your dog to heel on a leash with just the heel command without the need to use a treat as a guide.

However, if your dog shows any signs that your dog is about to pull on the leash or stray away from you during a walk in the neighborhood, remind him/her of the treat by holding it right in front of his/her. Immediately say the word “heel” and turn around to the opposite direction. Praise and reward your dog with a treat if he/she complies.

You can further challenge your dog by varying the speed of your walk and make a turn for a different direction every once in a bit.

3. Start Training Your Dog To Heel Without The Leash

Once you are certain that you have trained your dog to heel with a leash, you can start to train him/her to heel without using a leash. This part will work slightly different from what you had done with the leash. Here, we are going to be using the watch me command because when you are trying to walk your dog without a leash, you want him/her to be paying attention to you.

So, start inside of your home and start small. Have your dog positioned right alongside you. Show your dog the treat by holding it right in front of him/her and then move it towards your face. That should prompt your dog to look up at you because you have the treat up there. Just as you are doing that, say the word “watch me.” You can also use a hand signal by using the peace sign near your eyes.

Now, walk just a few steps forward while holding the treat near your face. If your dog follows right at your side while also looking up at you, praise and reward him/her with a treat. Repeat this a few more times successfully and then you can start to gradually increase the amount of steps that you and your dog move forward.

As is the case with the leash walking training, once your dog gets the hang of walking without a leash, you can advance to your yard and then finally onto the sidewalks. Remember to start small every time you and your dog advance to the next stage. So, in other words, when you move the training to your yard from inside your home, start out with only a few steps and then you can gradually increase the number of steps walked.

Overall, this is the process of how to train your dog to walk without a leash. If you do this gradually, you should be in a position where you can trust your dog enough to be able to heel without the need for a leash. If your dog does stray away from you, you will want to make use of the come command to call him/her back to you.

I wouldn’t hold out a leash for your dog to see as you are using the come command because he/she might see this as a punishment for straying from you and he/she will be less likely to come back to you. Instead, encourage your dog to come back to you by dangling a treat for him/her to see. Praise and reward your dog with a treat if he/she obeys your come command.

Also, be aware that, depending on the location, there may be laws or rules requiring the dogs to be attached to a leash when you two are out and about. What are your thoughts? Do you trust your dog enough to allow him/her walk with you without a leash? Feel free to leave a comment down below.

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