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Creating a Peaceful Leash Walking Experience

One of the number one obedience behaviors our Salt Lake City dog training clients want to train is loose leash walking.  Walking a dog that pulls on the leash can not only be painful physically but it can also be painful psychologically.  A dog that pulls on the leash can be frustrating for many dog owners.  As a result, we decided to discuss how to train your to walk loosely on the leash.

1.) Set you and your dog up for success.  Your dog will learn much faster, and the training will be much easier if you create an environment that is conducive to success.

  • Begin by walking your dog in low distracting areas.  When performing dog training, Salt Lake City has many on leash dogs parks where you can walk your dog.  Save these dog parks for more advanced level training.  Instead, begin by teaching your dog to walk loosely on the leash inside your home, in your backyard or in a low distracting neighborhood.
  • Before training your dog to walk loosely on the leash, exercise your dog.  You can play fetch off leash in your backyard.  If your dog has a great recall, you can let him off leash and run.  A more tired dog, will more likely walk loosely on the leash.
  • Make sure your dog is hungry.  Train your dog with treats before dinner or breakfast.  A hungry dog is much more motivated to eat treats!

2.) Practice a good mindset.  Remember training takes time.  When you feel an emotion such as anger, sadness or fear allow yourself to shift to an emotion of a higher vibration.  Your dog will be more responsive if you are grounded.  A great way to shift is to ask yourself how and wonder questions.

  • How can I be a team with my dog?
  • I wonder how I can have fun on our leash walk today?
  • How can I create my dog to listen successfully?
  • I wonder how I can make training on the leash easier?

3.) Use a front hook harness or a head collar.  Both of these apparatuses are great to support your dog to pull less on the leash.  Make sure you still use obedience training techniques with these apparatuses.  We recommend the Softtouch Front Hook Harness and the Gentle Leader head collar to many of our Salt Lake City dog training clients.

4.) Stay away from using any pain-based training methods.  These methods include: shock collars, prong collars, choke collars etc.  These apparatuses can create your dog to develop fear or aggression issues. They are not pleasant feeling for your dog.

5.) Keep your walks short.  In the beginning, it might be easier for you to take 2-4 short walks a day.  Each walk can last about 5-20 min.  As your dog gains obedience on the leash, begin to lengthen your walks.

6.) Enjoy the training journey rather than being attached to the destination.  Walk for a certain length of time rather than being attached to reaching a certain location.

7.) Change directions when your dog pulls on the leash.  Many of our Salt Lake City dog training clients love this method. When the leash is loose click and treat.  If you are consistent, your dog will learn that tension on the leash means that you are going to turn and go into the opposite direction.  He will also learn that if the leash is a loose he gets reinforced by walking in the direction he wants. Click here to read more training loose leash walking.

8.) Use treats that are motivating to your dog.  Due to distractions, most dogs will not work for their kibble on outside walks.  Soft treats such as Freshpet are great to use for dog training!  We also love Paw Paws Pet Boutique as they sell many healthy training treats!

9.) Lastly if it is extremely frustrating to teach your dog on your own, receive some support with a professional dog trainer.  Utah has a website with a list of many positive reinforcement trainers to choose from.  If you live in Salt Lake City or would like to do sessions via Skype Four Legged Scholars dog training, Salt Lake City would love to support your dog training needs.  We have a new leash walking group course starting soon!

Your Turn!

We want to hear from you!  Does your dog walk loosely on the leash?  If no, what techniques above will you apply to create loose leash walking success?  If yes, what techniques did you use that worked for you and your dog?


Johanna Teresi, Professional Trainer with Four Legged Scholars LLC dog training, Salt Lake City

Blog Archives

Britnie Sorensen
Britnie Sorensen
18:11 06 Apr 24
This is our second round of training with Johanna! Our Bullmastiff Abbi is different from our previous dogs, and we knew Johanna would be able to help us. We reached out and were in excellent hands! Johanna was able to redirect our training efforts, majority of sessions were held virtually and supported with videos of us training Abbi. We will keep using Johanna no matter where life takes us. Her love and compassion for our puppy, and us, come through in every interaction. We are in a much better place and understanding of Abbi after working with Johanna!
Roberta Bonnell
Roberta Bonnell
01:37 24 Mar 24
My Australian Shepard had moderate separation anxiety and Johanna was able to help me get him to a point where I can see him being able to be home alone before the end of the year! Very grateful for all of her training expertise.
Karen Mara
Karen Mara
21:19 21 Jan 24
I recently met with Johanna for help with my rambunctious teenager, Roger. We worked on coming when called, leash walking, and staying calm around other dogs when on leash. After two sessions, Roger made huge improvements, and he continues to improve as we practice on our own. Johanna really understands dogs and is very good at communicating with people. She knows how to make dog training fun. I've worked with other trainers, and Johanna is by far the best.
Wendy Nighswonger
Wendy Nighswonger
18:47 08 Jul 23
I have known Johanna for 13 years. She has helped me with several dogs, but she recently helped me train my new black lab puppy, Raven. I have moved to another state so all of my training with Raven was done online via Zoom. I believe that the one-on-one training I received through Zoom was more personalized and thorough, especially with the way Johanna placed every ounce of training and recommendation on a board through an app that I can refer back when I need. Johanna is very intuitive and knew when stress was on overload for me, therefore tailoring my training for that day around making Raven feel good while simultaneously taking my stress load down. Johanna has years of experience and while her knowledge is a gold mine, it is her gentle patience and love for her clients that make this training so perfect. I would hire her again and again. She is a true canine whisperer. Thank you Four Legged Scholars and thank you Johanna!Wendy N. ~ Oregon
Christina Richards
Christina Richards
18:13 10 Feb 23
Johanna at Four Legged Scholars is great. She tailored my program to fit my needs and was easy to work with. My puppy responded very well to what she taught us together over Zoom. She's patient and understanding. We're still utilizing the things we learned and he's a well-behaved puppy. Thank you!
Karyl Bennion
Karyl Bennion
19:49 05 Feb 23
I adopted Frida as a companion that I could travel, walk and hike with. She loves to hike and walk but pulled on the leash and jumped at distractions. I learned how to be calm and talk in a non threatening way to her. She responds to this much better than yelling at her. The click and treat method that I learned works so well in getting her attention as well as the "target" training. Frida has improved greatly with these methods. I will continue the knowledge I have learned with her. I did the live on-line training and it was very successful. I am so happy we signed up.
Rachel Giddings
Rachel Giddings
02:57 12 Dec 22
My dog was abused in his previous home and has always been afraid of strangers. I wanted to train him and help him to be more confident, but I didn't know how to do that if he was afraid of his trainer.Doing online training with Joanna was perfect for both of us! Joanna helped me learn how to read my dog and understand his triggers. We then worked together on BAT training, which taught him self-soothing behaviors and showed him how to confidently and safely handle difficult situations. I never thought I would have fun doing homework with my dog, but he and I benefited from it tremendously. Working with Joanna via Zoom was perfect for my dog and me.
Shawn McMillen
Shawn McMillen
02:09 24 Oct 22
My 2 year old doodle was struggling with people walking by the house, barking incessantly, tugging on walks, improving recall when off leash and , for me, how to be a better more engaging human for my buddy. The personalized, online sessions exceeded all my expectations. The review of video homework sessions was awesome. We saw improvement in each of the priority areas and I developed real, tangible, lasting skills/tools to be a better pet person. Thanks Johanna!
Courtney Daniels
Courtney Daniels
19:59 12 Sep 22
12 years ago I got a puppy and quickly realized I was in over my head. I wanted to have a good, well trained dog, but I was overwhelmed by methods and my puppies behavior.I joined the four legged scholars puppy training with my little 4 month old puppy Bowie, and saw immediate understanding with the clicker work. It gave us this incredibly ability to communicate and she excelled.We went on to take several courses that established general obedience, helped me turn a STRONG leash puller into a loose leash master (I took that course twice because it was a huge issue for us and I NEEDED help and reassurance from Johanna that I could do it) as well as skill class, that helped solidify a beautiful relationship between us. Learning clicker shaping allowed me to confidently teach complex and unique commands on my own as well, like waving hello and closing kitchen cabinets.My Bowie has climbed to the top of mountains for me staying right by my side never pulling on her leash. I've targeted her off trails to protect her from startling a mama moose and her baby. She's loved on my kids without jumping on them and knocking them over. She's allowed the neighbor girl who has always had a fear of dogs to walk her without pulling at whatever pace she was comfortable with. She shows off with all her fun little tricks Johanna gave me the tools to train my dog into an amazing companion.I feel so lucky to have found your training program and to have the relationship I do with my Bowie girl. These courses have a profound and lasting impact on the lives of families and their pups, thank you for that gift.
Megan Pond-Maxwell
Megan Pond-Maxwell
16:02 18 May 22
I am so grateful to have found Johanna. She was with us every step of the way as we tackled separation anxiety training and reactivity training with Daisy, my Mini Australian Shepherd. As a first time dog owner, I felt at a loss about how to manage my very vocal, scared, stressed, yet loveable dog. She had all of the typical puppy behavior, such as jumping, nipping/biting, leash pulling, as well as barking. On top of that, she was also not able to be alone without feeling terrified, as well as vocally and behaviorally reactive to other dogs, adults, and kids. I felt completely overwhelmed and Johanna created programs that felt manageable and doable. Each training session, I felt understood and empowered working with Johanna. Over the course of our programs, I felt that we accomplished the steps of the training process, strengthened the dog-human relationship, and increased my own awareness of my dog's emotional cues so that I could better work with her. My dog can now be on her own feeling relaxed and playful, her problematic puppy behaviors have significantly improved, she can walk on her leash loosely, listen to commands, and she can better tolerate other adults, dogs, and children as compared to where we first started. Our online experience was very positive. I look forward to continually implementing the tools and skills we have learned along the way to move forward in a positive direction that strengthens our human-animal bond and reduces distressing behaviors and emotional stress and overwhelm. Thank you Four Legged Scholars! I highly, highly recommend working with Johanna.
Emily Harward
Emily Harward
03:36 24 Apr 22
Our rescue dog is sweet and playful with us, but her behavior around other dogs and people could be unpredictable. She would act aggressively around adults (lunging and barking), and would sometimes be aggressive toward other dogs. We chose to do online training with Johanna. I was skeptical that online training would work, but it ended up being very effective. Johanna taught me the skills I needed to train my dog, and provided resources that I could use throughout the week as I worked on the assigned tasks. I was also able to send her videos of me working with my dog, so she could provide feedback and help me improve. Johanna personalized the program and made changes as needed to ensure that I could meet my goals. Since working with Four Legged Scholars, neighbors have commented on how much better behaved my dog is, and I don't have to worry about her lunging and barking at people or other dogs when we are out for a walk anymore. We still have a lot of work to do with our dog, and I feel like doing the personalized online sessions with Johanna has given me the knowledge, and resources to continue training my dog.
Angel Lanoy
Angel Lanoy
15:22 16 Jun 21
We have a large family, including three big dogs. So when our biggest dog Obi, the Rottweiler, started showing aggression we panicked. The vet suggested we put him down after an experience in the office. He then said we could also try training and gave us Johanna's business card. Just a phone call with her made us feel like there was hope. We signed up to do the online sessions with FourLeggedScholars. The process from the first contact to the last was well oiled and very helpful. Obi gets to stay with our family now and we feel like meting with her has given us the guidance and knowledge we need to keep our family, friends and him safe. I was a tad worried about doing the training online, but it really worked out great and we were able to fit such a big task into our busy schedules. I feel like she set us up for success from the very beginning. Thank you.
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  1. Linda Ursin

    He doesn’t pull as much as he used to. He’s improved with age, but taking bike rides has also helped him learn when it’s ok to pull. I have very bad shoulders, so pulling isn’t good. So I’ve been trying to teach him not to pull. One thing that hasn’t helped is the coowner’s insistence on using a retractable leash. You know the ones that are 9-24 ft long and roll up inside a handle.

    • fourleggedscholars

      Yes the retractable leashes do encourage pulling for sure!! You can do it! Training takes dedication and persistence 🙂

  2. Tammy

    Interesting article. I grew up with a variety of animals on a farm. Yes we had dogs and they often worked on the farm and didn’t go to dark parks. They didn’t always get treats when they were being asked to do something. They were well behaved and very seldom had a stern voice raised, rather treated with a mutual respect.
    I enjoyed your suggestion about being awareness and teaming with the dog.

    • fourleggedscholars

      Hi Tammy,
      Thank you so much for your reply! In regards to psychology a dog or any animal will perform a behavior or not depending on the consequence they receive. So if they are receiving something that they want (treats, praise, attention, running, play etc) or avoiding something that they do not want to happen (yelling, being sprayed with water, being shocked, being jerked with a choke collar, etc.) they will perform that behavior frequently. This is basic psychology. I am understanding that your dogs performed the behaviors without treats so they were receiving some mutual benefit that encouraged them to perform the behavior. In Four Legged Scholars we only use positive reinforcement and never use any pain based methods that I have described above 🙂 Just a little perspective to get into your past doggie’s brain! Namaste!