Leash Training


There are many ways to handle a leash. Most times, you will see people place the loop of the leash around their wrists. This can lead to injury. Please note the proper way to handle a leash and be able to handle your dog safely.

Ask The Trainer: Leash Training
by Mary Farren

There are many ways to handle a leash.  Most times, you will see people place the loop of the leash around their wrists.  This can lead to injury.  Please note the proper way to handle a leash and be able to handle your dog safely.

The leash is comprised of three different parts:

  1. The loop of the leash.  This is most commonly used as a handle that the person who is walking the dog holds on to.
  2. The line.  The ideal total length of a training leash is six feet.  This gives the handler and the dog room to move around safely.  Too little length does not  give your dog enough space (These are GSDs )  Too much length can launch you off your feet ( due to the force the dog will have at full speed at the end of the line).
  3. The snap.  This piece of the leash is probably the most important.  It attaches to the dog’s collar.  If this piece is faulty in any way, your leash will fail.  The snap on the leash must open and close. If the snap is too loose, it will release its hold from the ring of the collar. (I’ve seen this happen with dogs that know to shake their heads)  Test your snap to make sure it stays closed after opening it.  If it sticks open, your dog can get loose.

Now, with dog on your left side, place the snap onto your dog’s collar.  This leaves you with a 6’ line and your loop.  Put the loop of the leash over your right thumb as far as it will fall in.  If you now close your hand, you can hold onto the two sides of the loop.





With your left free hand, take up the slack of the excess leash ( yes, it can hang down) and place it into your right hand.  Now that you have the slack in your right hand, place your hand onto your belly button.  You should have enough slack line so that the leash hangs down just under your knee cap.  This is your starting position.

If you are just starting with your dog, reach down the line with your left hand and take up the excess line with this hand.  If your dog moves too far forward, use this hand to guide your dog back toward your left side.  When you first step off with your left foot, your right (belly button hand) will move down to your right side in a natural way.  You are teaching your dog to move off with you when you step off with your left foot.

Now that you know how to hold your leash, let’s start walking:

Begin at the start position.  Step off with your left foot while at the same time, moving your belly button hand to your right side.  The slack just under your knee cap will be taken up by your moving left leg and will help guide the dog forward.  If your dog starts to move away from you, drop the rest of the excess line (while keeping the loop around your thumb) and turn and move toward the right.  If your dog should not notice that you turned, he will end up at the end of the line.  Use quick pop/release motions (enough to catch his attention) and continue to walk in the same direction, taking up the excess slack in the line as your move forward.  You will notice that quick pop/release motions will catch his attention and he’ll start complying by walking toward you as opposed to pulling him toward you – he will pull against that kind of pressure and you’ll find a whole lot of opposition.

Continue to work with your dog in this way.  Mark off a 50’x50’ square to work with if you have that luxury.  Otherwise, use a back and forth motion that is 50’x50’.  Pause at each 50’ marker for a few seconds before moving toward your other marker.  When you are first training your dog to walk, focus on where you are going – do not turn to look at your dog or talk to him.  You should be quietly thinking about where you are going and facing in that direction.  Work your dog in this way 2x/day for 30 minutes each session.  You will find that your dog starts to focus on you and where you are going (it is ok to praise your dog when he starts to figure this out.)

See “Praising your dog” in next month’s newsletter.

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