Loose Leash (How to Hold the Leash)

A puppy in training at the National Service Dogs showing how to walk on a loose leash.

A puppy in training at the National Service Dogs showing how to walk on a loose leash.

Walking on a Loose Leash

Walking beside you, watching you, or being calm, cool, and collected is just not natural for a puppy. It is good to keep this in mind when you are teaching the little critter not to pull on the leash when you are walking with him. Also remember that when a dog feels tension on his leash, he is naturally going to pull against it. With a puppy we have a golden opportunity. We have a little critter with no bad habits. More importantly, we are dealing with an animal that is not full-grown, can’t outrun us yet, and is in no position to overpower us. Depending on the breed, this is not usually the case with an adult dog.

As soon as the pup is able to cover ground by dragging you, it becomes habit. DO NOT PERMIT THIS TO HAPPEN! Not on the way outside to the bathroom. Not when you are heading to the park to play with his favorite pals! Never.

Luring and Stop & Go: Exercises for Walking on a Loose Leash

These are two exercises to teach your puppy to focus on you and to sit when you stop.

Real Life Tip

A No Pull Harness is something worth exploring when teaching a new pup to walk on a loose leash. It may help with excess pulling, on those occasions you want to get from point A to B quickly and don’t have the time or frame of mind to be training.

How to Hold the Leash
  • Hold the leash in your right hand, doubling the leash over to take up any extra slack so that it does not drag on the floor or have any tension on it.
  • Put your right hand at waist level, close to your belly button.
  • Close your left hand over your right hand or let it hang naturally to your side.
  • You may be tempted to grab the leash with your left hand and pull the pup back with it — avoid this.
  • Treats and toys should be in an easy-to-access pouch and/or pocket.
  • Read A word about which side your dog should be on, further on in this section.