2c. Leash Handling Skills (5:50)

2c. Leash Handling Skills

The Leash

  • The leash should be held in your dominant hand. Should your dog suddenly pull, you will have a good hold on it.
  • Place your thumb from your dominant hand through the loop handle of the leash. Then gather some of the slack of your leash and loop it over your thumb again.
  • Close your hand with the leash tucked into it like a pocket. Your thumb will be across the top. The remain leash will be flowing out your hand by your little finger.
  • Holding the leash this way will allow you to adjust the slack in the leash as needed. Such as gathering the slack up to prevent your dog from stepping over it and getting caught between their legs. You may also decide to give more leash to your dog to enjoy sniffs.
  •  Your dog should be on the opposite side of your dominant hand. Food will be delivered from your other hand so that your dog is not crossing in front of you. This will be your dog’s reward zone.
  • The leash is your responsibility. You can see and monitor the length and relationship of the leash.  Use your voice to communicate to your dog if he is getting to far ahead. Never use the leash to pull your dog back to you. Your dog will appreciate the communication as they learn what a loose leash is.

Note: DO NOT wrap the leash around your wrist or hand or put your hand through the loop of the leash.

  •  If your dog pulls hard enough, you may not be able to stop your fall and could possibly injure yourself.

Loose leash walking is a journey and will not happen overnight.

Patience, practice and play the games for success.

Loose Leash Standing

This will teach your dog to stay within a five to six foot range of you when the leash is on. No other behavior is required. Your dog’s position doesn’t matter as long as the leash remains loose.

Step-1 Attach a leash to your dog’s collar/harness.

Step-2 Pay attention to the leash, mark and reward for a loose leash

Step-3 If the leash goes tight, make a kissy noise, mark and reward for your dog reconnecting to you.

Step-4 If the leash stays loose, click and treat after one to two seconds. Slowly increase the time between clicks and treats.

Step -5 Click and treat if your dog offers you focused eye contact.

Leash Pressure

Many of our dogs have learned that if they pull, we follow. Our dogs have learned that the pressure of the leash means that we are still attached on the other end. This game changes the picture for them and teaches them that feeling the end of the leash means to give into that pressure so that they are not rehearsing the pulling.


Step 1– Add a gentle, even pressure on your dog’s leash.

Step 2- Click and treat with high value treats the moment the dog turns to you and releases pressure on the leash.

Step 3- If your dog leans hard in the opposite direction of the pressure, lure your dog with a high value treat to look at you and click and treat.

Step 4– Practice again by adding gentle pressure on the leash. Reward with high value treats if your dog looks to you and releases pressure on the leash.

Step 5- Next Level: Have a person put a treat out in front of your dog and treat when your dog looks to you. DO NOT allow your dog to race toward the treat on the ground as a reward… go the opposite way after rewarding the release of leash pressure.