How To Train Your Dog To Walk Off Leash

Dog walking off leash beside a woman

Training your dog to walk off leash is one of the most rewarding accomplishments for them and their humans. This allows for more enjoyable hikes, heightened trust, and engaged companionship.

Training your dog to walk off leash can be broken down into 7 easy to follow and easy to repeat steps that you can start with your dog right now. It’s important to note that all dogs learn at different speeds but regardless, the training must remain consistent. Dogs learn best through repetition.

7 Steps For Training Your Dog To Walk Off Leash

Step 1Keep his/her leash connected.
Step 2Teach your dog to make eye contact and use an easy command such as “eyes”.
Step 3Make them “sit” beside you on command.
Step 4Walk 3 steps forward with your pup walking in-step with you. Then have them “sit” when you stop.
Step 5Walk farther, but only if your dog stays glued to your hip with laser focus on you. If they’re easily distracted, stick with steps 3 and 4 a while longer.
Step 6Undo the leash with your “eye contact” command. Make sure they’re paying attention to you. Begin walking slowly. Then stop. Make sure they sit when you stop. Reward them with a treat if/when they do.
Step 7Visit an off-leash dog park. Repeat steps 1-6 until your dog is flawless and perfects all movements and understands all commands.
Quick step by step reference from training your dog to walk off leash.

I for one, am a master at this skill. But will admit that the random stray cat can make me forget everything I’ve ever learned in my lifetime, however as soon as I re-emerge from my momentary lapse, I’m back to my old obedient self. I know; I need to work on this – it’s dangerous – my mom keeps telling me.

My sister on the other hand is horrible at her recall command. She’s a husky and I’m pretty sure they’re notorious for being oblivious to obedience. I hear my humans use the word “stubborn” when they tell people stories about Callie. Not sure what that means, but it must have something to do with running around like a wild banshee and digging holes.

Let’s break down my steps from above and dive a little deeper into each phase.

Disclaimer: The Can My Dog articles contain information based on the individual research and opinions of the author of the site – who just so happens to be a dog. How you utilize the information given is completely up to you. Proceed at your own risk.

Keep The Leash Connected When Training Your Dog to Walk Off Leash

Obviously your ultimate goal here is to not use a leash, but initially this allows for the human to maintain control and build confidence in the dog.

Choker collars or anything else of the sort is unnecessary here. I’ve seen way too many people use these incorrectly. Just take the time needed to train us to listen to your commands and keep our collars smooth in the meantime.

Maintain Eye Contact With Your Dog When Training Them to Walk Off Leash

Teaching us to make eye contact with you, especially on command, is one of the most important things we could ever learn. It could even save our life. Forcing us to focus on you and only you ensures that we don’t get distracted by the little things and can ultimately be trusted without the backup of a leash.

If we’re watching you, it’s all we care about. Take your time with this step. It’s imperative to the progression of the remaining steps.

Use quick and easy commands, like “eyes”. Every time you use this command, reward us with a treat if we oblige.

Make Sure Your Dog Sits When You Stop Walking

Once your dog makes eye contact effortlessly on command, take a few steps forward, encouraging them to stay right in stride while continuing to maintain eye contact.

Treat them. Literally, give them a treat every time they do this perfectly. Every time you stop, they sit. Every time you walk, they walk in stride – while keeping their eyes focused on you.

Stop walking in random spurts. Make sure we sit when you stop, every single time. Keep repeating this until it’s all second nature for the both of us.

Let The Games Begin. Unhook The Leash.

It’s go time, people. Unhook the leash now. Retest everything. Change nothing up.

“Eyes”, walk forward, stop, we sit. Rinse and repeat.

Keep practicing this with your dog in an off leash dog park. Practice until you can’t practice anymore. Even when you think they’re amazing and perfect, do it all one more time.

How quick do we look at you after you utter the “eyes” command? Are you comfortable with our attention on you?

If not, KEEP PRACTICING. We love these training sessions with you. Occupying our mind makes us such a pleasure to be around for the rest of the day.

Tips and Tricks to Use When Training Your Dog to Walk Off Leash

Don’t yell or jerk your dog around. This is really scary to us and we’ll associate this process in a negative manner every single time. We’re sensitive and love our humans more than anything. Disappointing you is the last thing we want to do – but you have to be patient with us in the beginning. This is completely new territory we’re wading in here.

Stay consistent. I can’t say this enough. This was the same concept I discussed in my article teaching you how to walk two dogs that pull at the same time. We’re like humans in that we all learn at different rates and speeds. Some dogs can master this within a week, while others may take a month or longer. Just keep practicing on a daily basis. We’ll get it, I promise.

Have a game plan in case this all goes down the crapper. Like I told you earlier, sometimes cats make me lose my mind. I can’t hear my mom when she yells my recall command. What will you do in this case?

Stay calm. Do NOT chase us. As soon as we come back do NOT yell at us. No matter how mad, scared, or upset you are, praise us immediately for coming back. This is how we learn that this is the acceptable thing to do.

Make sure our ID tags and/or microchips are up to date.


When we understand your language and know exactly what you want us to do at any given time, all guess work is removed from the human versus dog equation. Establishing a line of communication is imperative to the quality of our relationship with you.

Being able to trust that we will listen to you and mind you whether we’re on or off a leash allows for unlimited freedom and potential.

Just imagine the places we could go and the things we could do together when we’re not pulling you behind our leash like a rabid hyena. This makes you look crazy and doesn’t feel good on our necks. We’ll never learn that pulling you guys hard like this is the reason we can’t breathe on a walk.

I hope this overview helps you on your ‘off-leash project’.

Again, just test some things, see what works best for you and your pooch, and remember – don’t give up! We’ve got this.

And as always, continue to Live, Love, Laugh, and Scratch our bellies…often!

Love you guys,


P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.

Related Questions

Is It Possible to Walk Two Dogs Who Pull at the Same Time?

The first step in training any dog to walk on a leash without pulling is to teach them proper leash protocol.

What is leash protocol?

Leash protocol is the benchmark of your dog’s training foundation. It is the starting phase of all trainable scenarios from here on out.

I’ll break the steps to train two dogs who pull at the same time down into easily digestible techniques:

  1. Train each dog separately in the beginning.
  2. You’ll need: tiny training treats, leash, long hallway, and a dog.
  3. Leash your dog and begin walking. If they pull, stop and walk in the other direction.
  4. Repeat step 3 until they realize that you’re in charge of the walks.
  5. Reward with training treats each time the stop and start following your lead.

Let’s go a bit deeper into the nuances of training two dogs to walk perfectly at the same time. Read more here: How to walk two dogs that pull at the same time.

Is it Possible to Train a Husky to Walk Without Pulling in Under 30 Seconds?

You can begin to train a husky to effectively walk without pulling EXTREMELY fast by using a gentle leader.

There are strict rules to abide by when using a gentle leader on your husky. They are as follows:

  • Never use the gentle leader with a retractable leash.
  • Do not pull or yank on the leash when it’s attached to the gentle leader.
  • Do not give your dog a lot of leash to work / walk with.
  • Do not leave the gentle leader on your husky when they’re unattended.

Getting your husky use to the gentle leader will take time, consistency, and patience. But the reward to come from this practice is exponential.

Just imagine begin able to walk around town with other distractions and your husky continues to walk right by your side – regardless of what’s going on around them.

It’s the dream, right?

Don’t stop here. Read more about training your husky with the gentle leader: How to train a husky to walk without pulling in under 30 seconds.

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