Dogs really are mans’ best friend. It’s understandable, then, that you want to take your dog everywhere with you, on all of your adventures. But in order to do this, you need to teach him how to walk on a leash.
If you’re wondering how to teach a dog to walk on a leash, you’ve come to the right place. All you need is a bit of patience and to give a lot of positive reinforcement.
Are you interested in knowing more? Keep reading for our comprehensive guide to leash training for your pup.
Choosing the Right Leash
There are only two types of leashes for walking a dog: a standard leash and a retractable leash. Standard leashes come in myriad styles and colors but are essentially sturdy pieces of rope or material. In order to control the length of the leash, you’ll have to wrap it around your hand.
A retractable leash does exactly as its name suggests — it retracts. It’s a coiled-up leash that sits inside a compartment. You can adjust the length of the leash which makes it a great option.
However, when you’re training your pooch to walk on a leash, stick to using a standard leash. You can then move to a retractable leash once she is fully leash trained
Make sure you buy a sturdy leash that won’t break if your dog pulls on it.
Introduce Your Dog to the Collar or Harness and Leash
There are plenty of awesome and functional dog collars and harnesses that your dog will feel comfortable in. Once you’ve chosen the right one for your pup, begin by letting him get comfortable wearing it along with the leash.
Begin by putting on the leash for short periods of time and make sure to play with him and give him lots of treats. This will create a positive association of fun and food with the leash.
It’s important to get your dog comfortable with the leash in the safety of his own home. You want him to feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible so avoid taking him to parks and public places on the leash for the first few times.
Practice a Cue
Teaching your dog how to walk on a leash goes beyond the actual walking. You want to instill some friendly and positive cues that indicate that it’s time to put on the leash.
Choose a sound, such as a click or a whistle, or a word of your choice to use as the cue. When the leash and collar on your dog call her with this cue until she comes to you, and then reward her with a treat.
Repeat this practice until she comes to you with no hesitation and reinforces the cue until it’s embedded enough that you can remove offering the treat. Training a dog takes time and effort.
Get to Walking
Now that your pup is feeling comfortable wearing the leash and comes to you when you say the cue, it’s time to practice walking. You can do this inside your home if you don’t have a yard, but avoid public areas for now.
Decide which side you would prefer your dog to walk on so that you can train him to be comfortable on that side. The last thing you want is your dog running all around you while walking, getting him and you caught up in the leash.
When you’ve decided on your preferred side you should feed your puppy treats from your thigh on the chosen side when he’s on the leash. He will learn to stay on this side of you when you’re walking because he gets delicious treats.
Practice dog walking around your yard in random directions and movements, only giving your dog treats from your thigh on the same side. Every time he chooses to walk next to you, instead of in front of you or behind you, reward him with a treat. If he continues walking by your side, give him a treat for every step he remains there.
As you practice this more and more you can reduce the number of treats you give him. Continue this practice until your dog walks beside you most of the time.
Reinforcing Leash Training
Different types of dogs will take longer or shorter to train. Some will have a problem with pulling and need more positive reinforcement and encouragement. It’s important to remember, as with every aspect of caring for a dog, that patience is key.
When you’re practicing walking in your home and in public areas, reinforce and reward good behavior. When your dog lags or stops to sniff something, give her a few moments before saying “come on” or “let’s go” in an upbeat voice. When she responds and comes back to you, give her a treat.
Dogs need time to sniff and urinate or dedicate while they’re on the lead. But you should reinforce that it’s up to you when this happens. When you’re practicing in your yard using a cue such as ‘go sniff’ and then let him sniff around or relieve herself while she’s on the leash.
Footnote: How to Teach a Dog to Walk on a Leash
Now you have all the resources and knowledge and know-how to teach a dog to walk on a leash. Remember, start the leash training at home and practice it a lot before you take your pup to parks or public places on the leash. Have lots of treats on hand and be patient!
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