Leash training is an important process for every dog. Our canine friends are not born knowing leash etiquette, so the responsibility falls on owners to teach dogs how to walk on a leash properly. From learning not to pull to remembering to walk alongside their owners, dogs have a lot to learn when being leash trained and sometimes the process can be frustrating or difficult. But, armed with the right knowledge and attitude, your dog can be leash trained in no time.
How To Leash Train a Dog – Things to Keep in Mind
There are a few things you will want to keep in mind as you learn how to leash train a dog, including your pace, extra exercise for your pet and consistency. Consider things like:
Until your pet has gotten the hang of walking on a leash, it is a good idea to find other ways to incorporate exercise into his or her daily routine. Try going to the dog park or playing games to wear your pup out a little. This will help your training because your dog will have used up excess energy and will be less likely to pull and act out of control.
Try to keep a quick, steady pace when you are leash training your dog. Moving at a faster speed can help avoid frequent stops to sniff around or chase after things. Though dogs are bred to follow their senses, it is important to keep this to a minimum until they learn how to walk nicely on a leash.Rewards. A great way to make your training more effective is to incorporate rewards, such as treats. Take a bag of small, soft treats to reward your dog for good behavior and reinforce that behavior. Be sure to use a treat that your dog can eat quickly.
It is important to treat every single walk as a training session until your dog has mastered good behavior when on a leash. If you are strict on some walks but are lenient on others, your dog will become confused, and training will take a very long time. It is important to be consistent in your expectations, so your dog gets a good sense of what behavior you are looking for.
Control. You cannot expect good behavior from your dog during a walk if it does not have good behavior before the walk. Many dogs get excited and hyper when they realize it is walk time, and will whine, bark, jump and run around. It is important to show your pet that this kind of behavior is unacceptable by refusing to walk until he or she has calmed down. If your dog starts to do any of these things, hold the leash in your hand and look away until he or she calms down. Only once your pet is calm and collected, move to clip on the leash or harness. If you start to see excited behavior again, take the leash back from the collar and look away again. Keep trying to attach the leash or harness in this way until you can do so while your dog sits still and calmly.
How To Leash Train a Dog – First Steps
The very first step in getting your dog used to wearing and walking on a leash is introducing the collar and leash or harness he or she will be wearing. Start by having your pet wear these items around the house while you play. Try to incorporate small treats into this time, too. This kind of relaxed time should help your dog associate the collar and leash with fun and will make training a bit easier.
The next step is teaching your dog a cue. This can be a small noise like a click or whistle or a word of your choosing. Put on your dog’s collar and leash or harness, and make the cue noise. When your dog turns to look at you or comes toward you, reward him or her with a treat. Repeat this exercise until your dog is consistent in its response and turns to come to you each time the sound is made. Once your dog knows how to come to you, it is time to start leash training.
It is helpful to start your training indoors. With the collar and leash on, lead your dog through your house for a few minutes and reward good behavior like focus and not pulling. Once your pup has mastered these short sessions inside, you can begin to move your training outdoors.
In the beginning, keep your outdoor training sessions short and sweet. Your dog will have all sorts of distractions like sights, smells, sounds and other animals. If you notice that your dog is becoming distracted or pulling to get to something, make your cue sound and reward with a treat when he or she comes toward you.
How To Leash Train a Dog –Problems That May Arise
There are a few common problems that arise when leash training dogs. Barking. Many dogs will become excited when they see other dogs or people, and barking is often their first response. Sometimes this can be a result of pent-up energy and can be avoided with the proper amount of exercise and play time each day. Other times, this problem is not tied to a lack of exercise. If you find that your dog is in the habit of barking, it is important to teach it that barking is not acceptable behavior during walk time. Try to move attention away from whatever the distraction is by using your cue sound. Once you have the dog’s attention, have him or her sit and calm down and reward the improved behavior with a treat.
Pulling. Pulling is probably the most common problem dog owners encounter when leash training their pets. Dogs can become excited and want to pick up the pace or run, causing them to pull against the leash. Pulling is not only annoying, but it can also cause certain injuries to your pet, depending on what type of collar or harness he or she wears. For these reasons, it is imperative that dogs learn not to pull when on a walk. The first step is to stop walking and refuse to continue. This keeps your pet from continuing to run and pull. Be firm, but be sure never to yank the leash to avoid injuring your dog. Once your dog calms down, reward the good behavior with a small treat.
Over time, your dog will notice which behaviors cause your walk to stop and which behaviors are rewarded, and will learn how to walk nicely on a leash.
Finding the Right Method and Tools
There are several ways to leash train your dog and finding the right one depends on your dog’s personality and the type of leash/collar/harness combination you use. You will have to experiment with various methods to find out what works for you and your furry friend. Always remember, the main goals are to teach your dog not to pull and to walk beside you.
When it comes time to choose a leash or harness, think about your pet’s usual behavior and problems on walks. If your dog is having trouble with pulling or getting overly excited, it is usually a good idea to go with a head or chest harness. These kinds of leads discourage your dog from pulling and also help to prevent injuries that result from pulling. A head harness wraps around your dog’s neck and nose, and a chest harness goes around the chest and behind the front legs.
Another decision to make is whether to use punishments or rewards with your dog. Though it is best to start with a reward system in the beginning, some pets can quickly see walk time as a time to eat and will only focus on the bag of treats you carry with you. In cases like this, it can be useful to switch to a punishment system.
Though this may sound harsh, it is often more effective in certain pets. Punishments include turning around and ending the walk. A good example of this is teaching your dog that pulling signals that it is time to stop the walk. To do this, warn your dog when it looks like he or she is about to pull. A word like “Easy” works well for this. If he or she continues to pull, stop and turn around as if you are going back to where you came from. If your dog slows down and comes back toward you, a treat reward can be used to reinforce the change in behavior. Continue this process each time your pet pulls against the lead.
Leash training can be a long and difficult process at times, but it is important to remain consistent and patient in your training. Remember that walking on a leash is not natural for your pet. Over time, you should be able to build good behavior and walk time will become something you and your pet will enjoy together.