How To Train Your Dog To Walk on a Leash: 5 Tips For Leash Training
Not many experiences in life make you feel quite as proud as taking a walk through the neighborhood alongside your best friend. But, that experience can quickly turn stressful, when your beloved pooch begins pulling, barking and not obeying your commands. This is why proper leash training is so important.
In this article, we’re sharing some tips to make sure you do it right. We’ll be covering the importance of leash training, and then discussing five tips to ensure that you do it right. Then, we’ll talk about some resources that can help you along the way.
Why is Leash Training Important?
Walking on a leash isn’t something that just comes naturally to a dog or puppy. This is why you will have to take some time to teach your pup the proper manners and behavior while on a leash. Doing so helps teach your dog what’s expected of them, while also prioritizing safety and obedience. Some of the top benefits that come with leash training a dog include:
- It teaches a dog not to pull while walking
- Leash training reduces pressure on your joints and ligaments
- It increases your confidence
- It improves your dog’s fitness
5 Tips for Easy Leash Training
With the right approach and enough patience, leash training is something that you can do yourself! In fact, training your dog to walk on a leash isn’t nearly as difficult as you might initially believe. Here are five tips to help make your leash training experience as easy and effective as possible.
Take Advantage of a Leash Training Cue
Do you use a cue word to let your dog know it’s time for the leash? Just as you would use a cue word for other commands, like “sit”, “paw”, or “heel”, you also need one to prompt your dog to obey while on the leash.
The key is that this word should be used only when you are teaching him how to do something new (walk on the leash) and always in conjunction with a reward. It should not be used as part of your normal vocabulary or as an expression of emotion (such as “oh no!”).
Keep Training Sessions Short
It doesn’t matter what you’re training your dog on, the sessions should always be kept short, fun, and engaging.
10-15 minute “burst” sessions are much more effective than training a dog for an hour straight. So, 2-4 short walks per day (around the house or down the street) would be much more effective than one long, drawn-out training session.
Some signs that your dog might need a training break include:
- Loss of interest in rewards
- Increased mistakes
- Slower to respond to cues
Reward Desirable Behavior
If you want to train your dog to do anything, the first thing to do is reward desirable behavior. Rewarding behavior you like should be done right away, immediately after the good behavior occurs. Rewards can include treats and praise as well as petting and playtime with favorite toys or games of fetch.
The most important thing about rewarding your dog is to practice consistency.
If you only give him a treat when he does something good on Monday but don't do it again until Thursday, this will confuse him and he'll never learn the behaviors that are acceptable because there's no real pattern to follow.
Be sure that every time he does something right—even if it's just sitting quietly for a minute—you give him his reward. Then, as he learns, you can try increasing the time between rewards.
When teaching your dog to walk on a leash, it’s important to begin adding distractions. Walks on the leash are never quiet or uneventful; it’s important to get your dog used to new places, loud people, and passing cars.
A few things that you should try are to:
- Take your dog to the beach or park where there are many people around. This will help them get accustomed to all the different noises and smells.
- If there are dogs at the beach or park, take your dog over and introduce them to each other! This way they can learn how they should act around other animals in general, especially if they don't know each other yet!
Make it Fun
The most important thing to remember about walking your dog is to make it fun! If you’re not having fun, neither is your dog. Use a positive tone and use a happy voice when you speak to him or her. Be excited about the walk and enthusiastic about the leash and how well your dog is doing. And, make sure that your dog can see the excitement!
The more your dog begins associating walks with good things, like treats, toys, and affection, the more their behavior will improve.
What Happens When Your Dog is Stubborn on a Leash?
Unfortunately, leash training a dog or puppy isn’t always an easy or straightforward task. Some dogs are naturally stubborn, while other breeds (like the husky) are bred to pull. If you find yourself getting frustrated while leash training your dog, it might be necessary to consider other alternatives.
Consider Hiring a Trainer
Because of their sheer experience and understanding, professional dog trainers can act as a direct line of communication between you and your dog. They can be helpful for understanding canine body language and for guiding you on the right way to respond to unwanted behavior.
Experiment with a No-Pull Harness
Sometimes, a collar isn’t the best tool to use when training your dog to walk on a leash. In fact, attaching a lead to the back of a collar - and walking behind your dog - can even encourage pulling! No-pull dog harnesses reduce the pressure you feel while walking your dog, and also decrease the risk of damage to your dog’s sensitive neck and throat.
Leash training is definitely not something that happens overnight. It requires a lot of time and training on your part. And, it’s something that should be approached with understanding and patience. Remember, there is no shame in calling the professionals to help! A happy pet parent makes a happy pet.