As a dog owner, you should take the time to train your dog to walk well on a leash. Many people think that their dogs will know exactly what to do the moment they put a leash on them. But dogs that have never received leash training before won’t understand it. It’s not part of their natural behavior. So it’s important to get your dog used to walk on a leash from a young age.
Our pups are naturally curious animals. Once outdoors, they will have the urge to run when they’re excited. Some dogs will pull on the leash if they see something interesting. All of these things can make leash training rather challenging.
The first rule of leash training is to never give your dog the chance to pull on the leash. Read on for more leash training tips and tricks.
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Necessary Equipment for Leash Training
You’ll need a few basic tools to effectively leash train your dog. In order to walk well on a leash, your dog will have to adjust to how you walk. And the following tools will make that a lot easier:
Types of Dog Collars
Collars are one of the most important tools for leash training. Depending on your dog, you may need more than one collar type. At one time, you may need a back harness. While at others, you may be better off with a standard collar. Let’s discuss each type of collar that you can use for your pooch:
1. Standard Collar
This is the most common collar out there. For most dogs, the standard collar will work just fine. But other breeds may have necks that are prone to slipping out of these collars. In that case, you may have to consider another option.
2. Muzzle Harness
This type of collar is also known as a head halter. Fairly uncommon, these collars are designed to prevent pulls. If your dog pulls on it, the collar turns their nose towards their owner. These harnesses are good for dogs that tend to pull the owners around a lot.
3. Back Harness
These harnesses don’t put any pressure on the dog’s throat. They’re more suitable for small sized dogs than standard collars are. Plus, they’re comfortable for dogs and easy to control for owners so it’s a win-win.
4. Martingale Collar
This collar tightens around the neck whenever your dog pulls on the leash. But don’t worry, the tightness is not dangerous and only causes slight discomfort. However, we don’t recommend this collar for smaller sized breeds as it can be hard on their fragile necks.
Now comes the next most important piece of equipment – the leash. As the type of leash depends on the level of training your dog’s had, different people may need different types of leashes for their dogs. Luckily, there are quite a few options available.
1. Standard Leash
These old-school leashes are strong and durable enough for proper leash training. Standard leashes are made out of different materials and they come in all sorts of sizes. One word of caution – be prepared for your dog to chew on your collar if it’s made out of leather.
2. Hands-Free Leash
This leash is made for better-trained dogs. The hands-free leash offers less control so it’s only a good option when you are comfortable with your dog’s obedience level. It’s a great option for when you want to keep your hands free.
3. Retractable Leash
This leash also requires some training beforehand. Retractable leashes are better for small dogs as large dogs could break the leash if they pull too hard. Retractable leashes usually come with a nice break button so you can adjust the control of your dog while you’re walking.
How to Leash Train a Dog or Puppy
In this section, we’ll first discuss how to get your dog used to the leash. We’ll then discuss some leash training options available for you.
#1. Getting your Dog Comfortable
It’s unlikely your dog will take to the leash immediately. Some dogs might even hate it. It’s important to take the process slow and easy for them. Make sure that the introduction phase is not traumatic for your dog.
⇒ Introduce the Collar and Leash
Get your dog used to wearing a collar or a harness and leash slowly. Put the leash onto your dog for short periods throughout the day so that they can adjust to how it feels. Make sure your dog also associates positivity with the leash by offering treats when they allow you to put it on.
⇒ Teaching Cues
In the early stages when your pup will be wearing both a collar and leash, use sound or visual cues to aid them. The cues will be used to let your dog know that you’ll give them treats. And offer your dog treats if they respond to the cues correctly. This is one of the most important steps in leash training your dog.
⇒ Let your Pup Come to you
The next step goes a little further. After you have given your dog the cue, walk a few steps backward so that they have to walk ahead to get the treat. This will get them used to the feeling of moving around with the leash on. But remember not to let the training sessions bore your dog. Keep them short.
⇒ Practice in your Home
After your pup is comfortable with the above steps, try to walk them on the leash in your own home or garden. Try your best to control your dog. Offer treats whenever they respond to your call.
⇒ Practice Outside
The final step will take place outdoors. Bear in mind that there will be many things that will distract your dog, from squirrels to balls. Use the cues to call your dog back gently if they struggle on the leash. And as usual, offer your dog treats if they come back.
#2. Continue Training Outside
Getting your dog comfortable with the leash and collar is just the first step. You need to continue to train your dog outside to make it a habit. Keep the training sessions short at first. Then slowly increase it for longer periods.
You need to remember two important things at this stage: walk quickly and keep your dog’s energy levels under control. If you run with your dog outdoors, they might get too excited. It will then motivate your dog to run faster and pull on the leash.
You should also have your dog under control before you step out for a walk. If your dog is too excited, it’s better to wait for them to calm down first. Otherwise, they might pull the leash out of excitement the moment they step outdoors.
Let’s discuss a few more ways you can continue to leash train your dog.
The first method requires your dog to fully understand the “sit” command. When you go out with your dog and they pull on the leash, just stop walking abruptly. After some time, call your dog towards you. When they respond, command them to sit. When they listen to you, continue walking and offer them a treat while doing so.
By doing this, you will be able to reduce the number of stops your dog makes. But remember, if your dog is just exploring or sniffing things, don’t discourage them from doing so. Exploration is a natural part of a dog’s day out.
This method will take a few weeks to work. Make sure you have plenty of treats at your disposal.
This method consists of the classic luring technique. All you need to do is place a few treats in your hand. Then wave the treats in front of your pup’s nose before the walk. Use the treats in your hand to lure your dog to walk by your side. While you do this, offer a few treats to your dog every now and then. This will make sure you’re not giving your dog any false hope. You can also keep the treats in a small bag for easy access.
The main trick to this method is gradually increasing the number of steps between the treats. Slowly, your pup will be motivated to walk long hours with you. And you’ll be able to reduce the number of treats you need as time goes on.
This method is more of a punishment. It comes into play when your dog gets impatient or curious and the first two methods don’t work. You will warn your dog verbally to discourage them from pulling. When you’re walking and your dog pulls on the leash, you should first verbally command your dog to stop or go easy. If they respond to that and come to you, offer them a treat and continue walking.
It’s very important to keep walking. You don’t want your dog to think they can get a treat just by pulling on the leash.
But if your dog doesn’t respond to your verbal commands, just turn around and pull the leash. The leash will do its work. After your dog stops, keep on walking again. But if they repeat the behavior, stop and turn around again.
This will teach your doggo not to pull on the leash; that it’s something you don’t like.
This method is slightly more aggressive. It’s suitable for larger dogs. If your dog is making pulling on the leash a habit, then you should consider using this method. Like before, if your dog pulls on the leash, give them some firm verbal warnings. If they respond to the warnings then offer a treat. But if your doggo is pulling too hard, move the leash upwards and backward.
Remember not to pull your pup along with this method. It’s simply a quick jerk on the leash to make them stop what they are doing. Give your dog a treat if they stop and come back.
A warning though – don’t jerk the leash too hard. A dog’s neck is a very sensitive and fragile part of the body. If you jerk or pull too hard on the leash or collar around their neck, you risk damaging the neck. Use this method only to teach your dog, not to scare them.
Additional Read: How to Stop Abnormal or Destructive Chewing in Dogs
Key Points to Remember During Leash Training
- Leash training should be started early, preferably from puppyhood.
- Leash training should contain multiple, short sessions.
- Walk with your doggo on a regular basis. The more you walk with them wearing leash and collar, the faster they’ll be trained.
- Consistency is the key.
- Offer plenty of treats to encourage and reward good behavior.
- Make sure your dog is calm and under control before the walking session.
- Exercise your dog a lot to keep them happy and to avoid any stress.
What NOT to do During Leash Training
Here are some things not to do while leash training your dog:
- Don’t bore your dog or physically exhaust them. Try and keep the sessions short and interesting.
- Never let your dog think that pulling on the leash is okay. Try your best to curb it.
- If you have to pull on the leash, don’t pull too hard. You can seriously injure your dog if you do so.
- Don’t use a leash or collar that puts any unnecessary pressure on your dog’s neck.
- Don’t punish your dog too often or without reason.
- Avoid running while leash training. It might motivate your dog to run faster and pull on the leash.
- Never use a low-quality leash, collar or harness. Invest in some quality products that will last for a long time.
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Last But Not Least
Leash training doesn’t take too much effort when you compare it to other types of training. But you do have to be consistent and patient. Leash training helps to keep your pup under your control when you’re out and about. Finally, don’t forget that you are simply teaching your dog not to pull on the leash.
Never get angry at your dog for pulling. It’s something that your dog will do out of natural instinct. Instead, you should reward your dog’s good behavior.
With the right training and treat giving, your dog will then stop pulling on the leash in no time.
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