Every pet owner knows the challenge of teaching a dog good walking behavior. One dog wants to pull ahead and see the world, Fido over there wants to bark at every squirrel he sees, and the other dog wants to lag behind and smell everything. Proper leash training can feel like a daunting task when a lot of dogs do not exhibit good leash behavior. But fear not – leash training is a lot simpler than it seems, and we have curated the best steps here for you.
Get Them Used to the Collar and Leash
If you are reading this, it is likely that you have a puppy that is still in the easily distracted and highly playful phase. The first step to leash training is preparing your puppy for the world outside. Starting with the collar, make sure your pup is used to the sensation of something around its neck. Once the puppy can handle the collar, attach a short leash to the collar and let pup drag it around the house. This will help the puppy get used to the feeling of a leash, and make it easier to transition to walks.
Short Leash, Short Training
The next step is starting to walk with your dog. Keep a short leash so that your dog is forced to walk by your side. This may seem strange, but it helps the dog understand where he/she is supposed to be when walking with you. As your dog becomes more comfortable and learns to walk nicely, you can begin to let out the leash a bit for slack. Additionally, keep leash training sessions short, especially for puppies. It helps to keep them focused and attentive during the walk, and minimizes distraction time. Start walks inside, because there are fewer distractions to interrupt. Slowly transition to the outdoors by your home to teach outdoor leash manners, and then your dog should be ready for a full walk!
Praise Good Behavior
The secret sauce to any training is to praise your dog’s good behavior. When your dog is walking well beside you, reward them with a treat occasionally to reinforce that walking next to their owner is good. Positive reinforcement has been shown time and again to work wonders for dog training. A little kibble here and there will help to keep your puppy focused, and they will learn what behaviors reward them with treats when repeated!
Tips for Disobedient Dogs
If They Pull
If your dog has a bad habit of pulling or tugging on the leash, a simple solution is to just stop. Show the dog that that behavior results in no more walking, until they are ready to behave. Reward the dog when they come back and walk beside you again, and be prepared to stop a lot until the dog learns not to tug. Patience is your friend here when your dog wants to be pushy.
If They Lag
Some dogs just like to stop and smell the roses. For a really, really long time. If your precious pooch is one that likes to wander more than walk, teach them the phrase “Let’s go!” It is as simple as it sounds – when you say “let’s go,” gently tug the leash to signal to your dog that it is time to move forward. When they respond and catch up, praise and reward them. Repeating this will reinforce that “let’s go” means it’s time to move on from the fire hydrant.
Combining all of these tips and tricks should make it a walk in the park to teach your dog to be well mannered on a leash! Behaved dogs are not only easier to walk for the owner, but it is also easier to keep them safe when you know they will listen. There are lots of leash training techniques, but we find this method to be the easiest and most versatile!