Walking to Heel or loose leash walking is one of the most important skills a dog should learn, probably second only to his recall. A dog walking on a loose leash is calm, happy and more importantly under control. A dog used to pulling his owner every which way is potentially dangerous and can drag you or himself under passing vehicles, down slippery slopes or just cause a nuisance. The perfect walking dog should be calm and collected on leash (or when called to heel off leash) and allowed to run free only when instructed.
Dog trainers have many different methods, the Victoria Stilwells use positive training alone luring the dog’s nose with treats and keeping his attention the whole time. Cesar Millans of the world use negative training and ‘correct’ when the dog walks too far forward or lags too far behind. Both work well with the right sort of dog but a mixture of the two is better still.
Ultimately no two dog trainers agree on the best method, however most agree on one fact: Flexible leashes should be in the cupboard with loose leash walking. They teach your dog to pull, so the dog becomes confused about his boundaries and there is no way to instantly bring your dog back if he stretches the leash across a road. Ultimately with the leash alone, you have no real control. With a short leash for ‘busy road’ walking and the right training for off-leash roaming, you will never need the flexible leash again.
One of my dogs, Jake is a Greyhound Cross, I see dogs like this regularly and usually on leash even in parks because they are too fast and out of control. Jake is an 11 months old hyperactive, playful puppy who loves chasing squirrels like any other dog but I am able to walk with him on roads off-leash walking perfectly to heel. I would never recommend this on busy roads and would never do it myself without a leash as backup, but just proves that not only should you not wait or excuse a lack of training on his age, but that anything is possible when you’re with the Swansea Trainer :)
(note the second half of the video is heel walking without a leash. When almost back, I give him the ‘release’ command. This ensures ‘heel’ is a command to follow until told otherwise)