Training A Dog To Walk On A Leash
Like people, dogs are able to learn good and bad habits from when they are in the “growing up” stage – and just like people, it is hard to break a dog of a bad habit once it is obtained. One of the hardest good habits to teach a dog is how to not pull on their leash while they’re being walked. If you’re able to train them against this from the time that they are puppies, you should have no problem keeping your dog under control while on its leash. Leash pulling is uncomfortable for both your dog and yourself! If your dog gets excited and decides he needs to pursue something at a faster pace than you, your first instinct will probably be to tug back on the leash, applying certain force to the dog’s neck. That can’t be a
good feeling! Read on and we’ll tell you a better way to react!
Training A Dog When Young
There are a couple exercises that we would like to go over to ensure that you get the best results while training your dog to avoid being a dreaded “leash puller.” The first, probably most obvious, is to start training while your dog is still very young. Practice with your puppy on a leash for the first time indoors. It only makes sense to begin in an area that your pup is comfortable in and familiar with – could you imagine doing something unusual for the first time, in a location you’ve never visited? Sounds scary. Distractions will only tempt your pooch to lose focus and try and dart away while on the leash. The next tip is probably equally important – don’t let anyone that allows leash pulling to walk your dog (if you are looking for a dog walker be sure to discuss this)! It will only confuse the pup if the rules are off and on during training – consistency is key! The best way to ensure that your dog doesn’t leash pull is to never let it begin!
Only Train When Your Dog Is Comfortable
Our dogs need to be on a leash due to certain mandatory leash laws that are in effect all around us. The leash is also used as a safety precaution for our dogs. It helps keep them safe and close to us, deterring them from going out exploring on their own. Before you begin the exercises that we talked about earlier, it is important to be sure that your dog is even willing to stay close to you and follows you around before you start with the leash. If your dog isn’t comfortable with you before you try and leash train it, it will just add extra stress to the both of you. There is no shame in bribing your dog into being your close companion, just keep treats (homemade are the best!) on hand or give a compliment in a tone of voice that your dog knows is encouraging.
Once your dog has proven that it can stay by you without a leash, it is time to attach the leash to your dog’s collar. This is the part where we discuss indoor training. Once the leash is attached, you’re going to want to hold it close to yourself and stand still. This is where you need to pay attention. Once your dog explores the new extension that you’ve added to its body, it will eventually sit or lie down. Immediately, say “Good Dog” and hand out its favorite treat. Now, say “Come On” and take one step. Your dog will be ready to go after the torture of sitting still for ten seconds! Your pup will no doubt be all riled up again, so just hang on until it decides to sit or lie again. And again, treat and encourage this behavior.
So you have the hang of this now! It’s monotonous for sure but think of the payoff. Increase the amount of steps that you’re taking before you want your dog to rest and it will be walking without leash pulling in no time. Eventually, your dog will sit next to you at the same time that you stop walking. If your puppy does ever try to get out of hand and pull, just stand still while it does this and wait for it to sit again.
At this point, you and your puppy have this walking without pulling while indoors down pat. It’s time to move on to the backyard or sidewalk. Good practice for training on a sidewalk is to utilize a hallway in your house if you have it. Leave your door open while you’re going up and down the hallway. Before your dog is allowed in or out the door, instruct it to “Sit.” Doorways are tempting for dogs. They tend to run as fast as they can to get on either side of it, so the practice of making them wait will be beneficial of breaking that instinct that they have. Once your dog is comfortable walking without pulling outdoors, it’s time for a walk around the neighborhood. Don’t get stressed, just be patient and remember to stop in place if they do try and pull.
I have no doubt that with this technique you can train even the stubbornest dog out there. Just remember to use an accommodating, but firm, tone with them if they act out of hand. Again, bribing a dog with treats is not hurting anything, they will eventually act as expected without any reward. It’s important to remember that when we’re training our dogs, they think that they are training us. Is that such a bad thing if we get the results that we want? Before you know it you might even be able to go running with your pup!