How to Train Your Dog to Walk Without a Leash
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The most effective way to strengthen the bond between a dog and their owner is to take them for frequent walks. Besides the bonding process, the benefits of dog walks go much further. They help manage their stress levels, keep them healthy and discipline them in a pleasant way.
Sometimes our pets need more freedom and space, and some owners also need their pet to get their exercise differently. However, it is crucial to know how to do it to keep your furry friend safe.
If you want your dog to enjoy going out in a different way, this Animal Wised article will show you how to train your dog to walk without a leash.
Knowledge of basic commands
In order for your dog to stay obedient when walking alongside you without a lead, they should first know the basic commands. They shouldn't come across these for the first time during dog training, as this knowledge should already be well integrated by this point.
Some of the commands that your dog should know are the following:
- Sit down
- Stand up
- Come when you call them
Out of all the dog orders, the most important one in order for your dog to walk without a lead is that they come to you when you call them by name. Otherwise, you run the risk of your pet escaping, which could make it very difficult to find them.
Does your dog usually walk on the lead?
In order to teach your dog to walk without a lead, it's important that they are used to going for walks with it attached. The reason is a very simple one. At the beginning, the outside world can be very overwhelming for the dog. This can make them nervous and you will see their insecurity through their behaviour.
When this reaction takes place with the lead attached, you have a medium of control over the animal. However, if you suddenly come across a dog and you don't have the help of a lead, you run the risk of losing control - and this can be serious.
Go to a safe and quiet park
The first few times that you let your dog off their leash should not be done in any old environment. Rather, you should go to a safe park which is away from traffic and with as few distractions as possible. Thisallows the dog to stay calm and remain aware of both your presence and your commands.
Take them with the lead and let them run away, but with the lead still attached. If your pet has gotten used to walking on a lead, the fact that they continue to feel its weight and texture will aid their obedience and adaptation to this new form of walking.
Stop exercising control over the lead for short periods e.g. 10 minutes long. Later, during the same period of time, let it run loose but without the lead attached to the collar.
Call and reward: a basic tool
A dog needs the supervision of their owner. In this sense, and even more so in the early learning stages, it is essential that you don't stop paying attention to your pet.
When you let your dog run completely free off the lead in the correct environment, let them run away from you without losing sight of them. Then later call them so that they come back to you. When they do so, you should exhibit positive reinforcement to solidify their learning.
Each time your dog comes to you when you call them, give them an appropriate treat. This reward system should be maintained for some time, at least for a period of 1 month. Later, this habit should become progressively more sporadic.
Play hide and seek with your dog
When, on a daily basis, your dog always comes to you when you call them, you should try something else. Now is the time to hide and call them, so that they are capable of looking for you and returning to you even though there is no visual contact.
This will be very useful whenever the domain of the walk is vaster and the route is more dynamic, as it will allow your dog to walk beside you and follow you without the need to constantly get their attention.
As mentioned above, it is important for you to keep an eye on your dog without losing sight of them, hide behind a tree and call them. When they come back to you, give them a dog treat.
Make the walking space larger
Progressively, and as your dog learns this new way of going for a walk, you can take them to bigger parks, with more people and more dogs, as long as they have had the appropriate socialization.
Obviously we recommend that you let them off the lead in safe environments. However, streets with traffic or areas that are close to dangerous areas due to passing vehicles should be avoided if you want your dog to walk without restraint.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Train Your Dog to Walk Without a Leash, we recommend you visit our Advanced education category.