Is your dog struggling to nail loose leash walking? Trainer shares her simple method for success

Cute Goldendoodle looking at camera while sitting next to his owner
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Of all the skills and behaviors you need to teach your dog, training them to master the art of loose leash walking is no doubt one of the most challenging - but it's also incredibly important when it comes to keeping your pup safe.

There are a lot of common loose leash walking mistakes we tend to make as pet parents, including believing that our pup pulling on their leash is about dominance or them trying to be top dog when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

Walking outside is simply super stimulating for dogs with so many sights, sounds and smells to explore, and feeling 'tied' to you can be frustrating as it prevents your pup from being able to do what they naturally feel called to do.

Thankfully, there is a way that you can train your dog to walk well on a loose leash while engaging their natural instincts at the same time. Expert trainer Piper Novick has shared one of her favorite games for doing just that and it couldn't be easier!

In a video shared to Instagram, which you can view above, Novick walks us through the quick and easy counting game, demonstrating with a pup she's currently training. 

"Reward your dog every step," Novick explains, showing us how she gives the dog a treat with each step they take on the walk. "Now, try every two steps," she says, as she dishes out the dog treats on the second step the dog takes. Finally, Novick says you increase the amount of steps to three, rewarding with a treat on the third step.

"This high rate of reinforcement will strengthen your dogs leash walking behaviors. Once your dog gets the hang of this game, and you practice in multiple locations then you can start randomizing how often you reward."

And if your dog loses focus or leaves your side? "Go back to one," Novick advises, starting the game again until your fur friend is able to increase the amount of steps they can take.

Just like learning how to calm a reactive dog or figuring out how to stop a dog from jumping up, training loose leash walking takes time - but with patience and consistency, you can see great results. If you find your pup isn't making the positive progress in this area that you'd like, we recommend reaching out to a professional trainer for support.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.