Training your dog to walk on a leash is the first step toward being able to take him places. Once your pooch gets comfortable with the leash, you can go on walks around your neighborhood, bring him along to local stores, take him on hikes, etc. This is why mastering leash training is vital!
Let me start by saying each dog is different. Some take to the leash immediately while others can’t stand it. Some dogs will keep turning around to bite it and others tug.
Leash training my first dog, Diego, was somewhat of a nightmare. He didn’t want any part of the leash. He would tug on it, bite it, spin around and get tangled up in it. He would do anything but walk! On the flipside, my second dog, Gigi, mastered the leash within just a few minutes.
Check out the following 6 tips to help your dog master leash training in no time!
1) Choose The Right Collar And Leash
Before your dog even takes his first walk on the leash, make sure you have the right equipment. You should have a basic leash (like a nylon leash) that is suitable for your dog’s size. You don’t want to use a thin leash designed for small breeds if you’re walking a large dog (and vice-versa).
Also, a lot of dogs tend to tug on their leash at first (which I’ll talk more about in a minute). One way you can avoid/stop tugging is by putting your dog in a front-clip harness versus a collar. This makes it hard for your pup to pull because if he does he will be forced to turn around.
2) How To Introduce The Leash
The leash should be associated with positivity. Before you hook your dog’s leash onto their collar/harness for the first time, show it to them. Let them sniff the leash and explore it. Once you get the leash on, give them praise and a treat! It’s all about positive reinforcement and a feeling of security. You don’t want your dog to view the leash as “scary” or “bad.”
3) Try Walking With The Leash Inside First
Walking outside can be rather distracting for your young puppy. After all, there are so many stimulating sights and intriguing smells! To eliminate that distraction, try walking your dog from one room of your house to another (while he’s wearing his leash of course).
Start by standing with your dog in heel position (standing right by your side). It doesn’t matter which side he’s on. Next, reward him for being in that position. Then take your first step. If he stays in the heel position then give him another treat. When you’re starting out, go step-by-step. Reward him after every step once he rests in the heel position.
4) Take It Outside
Walking on a leash with a human standing over you is unnatural for a dog at first. So you can expect your puppy to pull (even if he was successful with the indoor step-by-step exercise I mentioned in step #3). If this happens the best thing you can do is to simply stop walking. Remain quiet and let your dog keep struggling to pull until he settles down. This may take a few minutes. Once your fur baby settles down, give him a lot of praise and a treat. Eventually, he will associate a loose leash with getting a prize.
5) Give A Lot Of Praise
I know I’ve been mentioning the importance of praising your fur baby with treats in the previous steps. Along with treats, though, you should also give your pooch verbal praise. A sweet sounding “good girl” or “good boy” can go a long way! I really can’t stress enough how important praise is.
6) Be Patient
I’m not going to sugar coat this for you … leash training your pup can be frustrating. There will be times that your dog will pull you in one direction that you’ll want to pull him in the other direction. Just stay calm and be patient. Don’t yank him or yell at him. Dogs can pick up on your emotions. If you are stressed out, they too will become stressed out. Also, know that your dog wants to make you happy. He just needs to understand what you want!