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Chapter 1- What Is Loose Leash Walking?

Loose leash walking means walking your dog with a slack leash and no pulling on either part – yours or the dog’s. All dogs, when feeling a tug at their neck and throat, pull away. Dogs also pull on the leash because they are so excited about going for a walk and pulling on the leash gets them to their next destination. It’s not a natural sensation; you and your puppy worked hard to create this tension.

Teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash stops him from pulling during walks. It is not a perfect “heel” which keeps your dog strictly by your side. It allows your dog room to sniff and explore the neighborhood, as long as he leaves some slack in his leash. In other words, your dog won’t be pulling your arm out of its socket as he lunges forward to get to where he wants to go. Instead, he will have to follow your lead in order to be allowed the freedom to see the sights.

The way I like to describe Loose Leash walking is as if you were taking an evening stroll with a friend, stopping to look at interesting things along the way, but both at the same comfortable pace. Loose leash walking means being in tune with your dog and as importantly, your dog is very aware of you.

Heeling on a walk is very different than loose leash walking and I never teach it before the relaxed pace of loose leash is mastered. Having a dog heel with you means having the dog right alongside of you, almost touching and staying with your pace 100% of the time. The act of heeling is a great behavior for a dog to learn and the times I use it with my dogs is when we are in cities, crossing a road, or in a situation where staying close to me is required and safe. The only other time heeling is really a valuable tool is when you are showing your dog.

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