Leash Train Your Dog
You have always wanted a dog. You wanted someone to cuddle with on the couch, go on long walks, and have fun together. But what happens when your dog is not easy to walk on a leash? Your pup seems to enjoy the walks, but you are struggling the entire time. In fact, your back and knees are specifically struggling on those walks. How can you leash train your dog to properly walk so you both can enjoy those strolls through the neighborhood?
Honestly, walking a dog the right way isn’t that difficult. I’m going to fill you in on a secret. The best way to get your dog to walk well on a leash is to…wait for it…let them know what you expect and keep reminding them. That’s really it. Well, technically, you also need to be consistent with your expectations, but that goes along with reminding them about what is expected.
Control Your Dog
Now that you’ve read my blog, How To Leash Your Dog, and you have your dog successfully leashed up and ready to go, the next step is venturing outside. Your dog is anticipating that sweet freedom outside. Well, as much freedom as they can experience while being on a leash, but you know what I mean. That being said, you need to remain in control of the walk before you even open the door to head out.
As you approach the door, your dog will likely be excited and jumping up and down or possibly be running towards the door. Rather than open the door and bracing yourself so you don’t get pulled down the stairs, tell your dog to sit before you touch the door handle. Once they sit, remind them to stay. As you go to open the door, repeat the “sit” command so that they remain sitting while you open the door. This simple training technique might seem insignificant, but it is essential in establishing yourself as the pack leader. This will keep your dog under your control so that they are not a hazard to themselves or others.
Stop The Pulling
Pulling on leash can be frustrating for both dogs and their handlers. Dogs tend to walk quickly and pull you forward, however, pulling on leash can also be the reverse. Some dogs might be resistant to walking on leash and will stop, therefore, you end up pulling them! Let’s discuss the 2 different types of pulling that occurs and how to leash train your dog so that the walk enjoyable for all involved.
Eager dogs who loves to walk are at risk of pulling on leash. No matter how much leash you give them, they continue to pull. Even if you are strong enough to hold on to the leash as they drag you down the street, it really isn’t an enjoyable way to walk! Your arm should never be fully extended out with a leashed dog beyond you. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Think about what might happen if your dog sees a squirrel, a bunny, chipmunk, another dog, or an excited person. Basically, you are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to control. The risk of your dog jumping on a person or dragging you to the ground is very much a concern.
Correcting The Pulling
Rather than continuing the cycle of pulling, you can train your dog to walk next to you. Yes, it’s true. You can leash train your dog to walk well and walk leisurely next to you. That is the ultimate goal and you can do it! Don’t worry if you have an older dog who has always pulled, you can teach an older dog new tricks.
Dogs look to their humans for validation that they are doing a great job. They want to please you. Keep this in mind as it is important for training purposes. The goal is to get your dog to walk leisurely next to you with a loose leash. If your dog starts to pull, gently, but firmly, pull back quickly to let them know that this walking is unfavorable. If they continue to pull, stop walking and tell your dog, “no pull”. Begin walking again. Repeat this process until your dog recognizes what is expected and follows the walk according to your rules. It will likely take a few times of going through the process. When your dog does a good job of walking (even for just a few steps), praise him for doing a great job. That praise is what they crave. Pleasing you will be their motivation to walk well. Keep going over the process until your dog understands what is expected. Before long, you will be loving your walks together!
Most dogs pull on their leash because they want to be the leader and can’t walk fast enough. However, there are some dogs who protest walking on leash and as a result, will pull back. Thus, you are almost dragging them during the walk. Nobody wants this situation. Not only is it disruptive to the walk itself, but you risk hurting your dog’s neck by pulling them and/or their paws because they can get blistered from the friction on the ground. Pulling backwards is no good!
The best way to get your dog to walk is to give them an incentive. Incentives are basically rewards. You can reward your dog by giving them treats, praise, pats on the head, belly rubs, etc. The best way to provide a reward on a walk is via treats or praise. After all, it is difficult to give a belly rub, when you are trying to move forward. You know your dog best. Decide which method of motivation will be best and go for it.
Treating Your Dog
Start walking and if your dog resists and pulls back, stop the walk. Present the treat, get it close to their nose so they know what it is, but don’t give it to him yet. Move it closer to you and make them walk towards it. As they start moving closer, give them the treat. Praise your dog for walking and doing a good job. Continue to walk. Repeat the process until your dog is moving freely on their own.
- Use high value treats so they understand they will receive a GREAT reward for walking.
- Break up the treats into smaller pieces so you aren’t rewarding each step with a big treat.
- Make your dog work for their reward.
Praising Your Dog
This method is very similar to Treating Your Dog, but you will provide lots of praise and encouragement rather than treats. For dogs who aren’t food motivated, this is a great method for training.
Start walking and if your dog resists and pulls back, stop the walk. Bend down a bit and slap your leg while calling your dog towards you using a semi-excited/high pitched voice. Continue slapping of your leg and giving them praise for any inching they get to you. As they start moving closer, provide more excitement in your voice and pat their head, when they are close enough to pet. Keep praising your dog for walking and doing a good job. Continue to walk. Repeat the process until your dog is moving freely on their own.
Training a dog is never a one-and-done scenario. For a well behaved dog, you will have to continuously work on their training. Although, the training reminders should be minimal as your dog gets the hang of things. You need to continue to work on leash training your dog every time you walk. I’m sure you will see many exciting situations on your adventures and will need to provide your dog constant reminders of how to act in each situation.
You can do this. Your dog looks up to you for guidance. Be the pack leader they want you to be!
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