Leash Training Tips for You and Your Dog
You’ve seen it before: The dog who’s walking his master instead of the other way ‘round. There’s the dog, charging ahead, taut leash, dragging their human along behind.
This is a no-no.
Leash training is one of the most important skills every dog owner needs to master. The goal is for your dog to walk on a leash where the leash is loose, you’re in control, and your dog knows it. You can learn this valuable skill whether your fur baby is a puppy or fully grown. Here’s how:
Get the Gear
First you’ll need a leash and a collar. For training, a flat buckle collar is the most recommended style. Get an adjustable one like this leather collar that can grow with your puppy. You’ll also need a leash that’s sturdy enough to keep Fido in check while being comfortable to hold, like this matching leather leash. At this stage, many experts suggest a short and firm leash, so keep it simple and skip the retractable leashes and the harnesses.
Start with Success Inside
Let your puppy get used to wearing a collar first if they aren’t used to it already. If they don’t take to it immediately, don’t fret, they’ll get used to it in a few days.
Next, let her get used to the leash. Attach the leash while she’s in the house and let her walk around with it for a while, where she can feel the tug when she steps on it or gets it caught on something, but is free to walk around safely. Keep a close eye as she roams, if she gets caught or stuck you’ll want to be there to help free the leash and help her avoid dangers.
Walking Outside: Build Up Slowly
Once your dog has gotten used to the gear, take her outside for your first loose leash walk. Keep it short at first – 5 minutes, tops. Even this short amount of time is long for a dog that’s never walked properly on a leash before. Remember that the purpose of the walk isn’t to explore, but to set expectations for future walks. Those expectations: you are in charge and decide where to walk, not your dog, and you will not move if the leash is strained.
Walk and keep slack in the leash. When he strains, simply stop and do not move forward until he understands that you require slack in the leash. Some owners like to turn their backs on their dogs at this point. When he does finally give slack, you can reward him with verbal praise and/or treats. Do this repeatedly until time is up for the walk.
If possible, end training sessions on a high note. Let your dog experience success and reward her with a treat at the end when she’s behaved well. Work up to extending the length of the walk, staying consistent with your rules.
Be Disciplined Yourself
This is the most important part of any dog training – your behavior! Being consistent is a lot easier said than done, especially when you’re standing stock still outside with a dog for 2 minutes and you have somewhere to be in 10 minutes. But by giving in “just this one time” to your dog’s desires, you’re confusing her and you’re making the training process much longer. Stay disciplined with your rules, and she’ll soon understand what you want and behave accordingly.
Don’t Give Up on Leash Training
Leash training isn’t complicated, but it takes consistency and a little patience. Your dog will misbehave, especially at first, but that’s okay. Just stick to your guns, and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying loose leash walks with your best friend.
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