Last updated on March 21st, 2015 at 10:32 am
Dogs must get used to leashes at an early age, yet it is not impossible to train an adult either. While itmight look like a natural thing, you need to know that dogs have no clue that they must walk close to you. They have to learn that they must not pull or lag. From this point of view, leash walking might look like good manners in a dog’s life. All in all, the process is not necessarily as easy as you might believe. Dogs are naturally excited when they go outdoors, but they also like exploring around. A leash is practically restricting this natural behavior.
Some dogs are active and feel like running everywhere around. Some others are slow. They like to sniff everything and leave some marks on every stone or pillar. Any of these behaviors can be intimidating. There are no doubts that training the dog yourself will bring in a lot of frustrations too and you might be left wondering how to leash train a dog.
However, in order to succeed in lead training a dog, consistency is one of the main keys. If you allow your dog to do this and that sometimes, they will keep doing it because they know that sooner or later, they will get away with it.
1. Take your time
Learning how to train a dog to walk on a leash is not a quick procedure you can do within half an hour before going to work. Instead, you need to actually dedicate time. Make sure that you have at least one hour on your hands, without being pressured by anything. Just like people, dogs are diurnal, which means that the best time to take them out is in the morning, after a long sleep. Most people check their toilets first thing in the morning, so dogs do the same. This initial walk should take 45 to 60 minutes.
Keep in mind that different dogs have different necessities. Educate yourself on the respective breed accordingly and check the behavior to ensure that those necessities are being respected.
It takes time for leash training. Have some Patience.
2. Always lead
If you think that leash training a dog is all about doing it outdoors, you are wrong. In fact, it is pointlessto behave outdoors and turn everything into a mess indoors. In other words, you have to keep leading even after you go back inside. You only need the dog’s attention for a few minutes. It must be able to wait while you hook the leash hanger or remove shoes. If you wash its paws or belly with some wet napkins, the dog must learn to wait for you to do it before going inside. If you have a retractable leash, leave it longer and simply “hook” the dog. Hook the leash into the hanger before letting it out. Make sure that it can wait comfortably and never forget about letting it loose.
Always take the lead indoors and outdoors
3. Provide rewards while walking
Rewards are a dog’s best friends. They can also become your best adjutants if you use them in your favor. Training rewards usually imply small treats. When learning how to leash train a dog, these rewards are only a few minutes of freedom. If the dog manages to maintain the appropriate state of mind for more than just a few minutes, reward it by providing a minute to sniff around. You should maintain some harsh proportions. Offer around 20% to 30% of the time spent on a leash. If you dog behaves for 10 minutes, give it 2 or 3 minutes of freedom. Sooner or later, it will associate this positive behavior with the possibility to be free.
Remember that it is you who must decide when the reward is over and not your dog.
4. Choose a short leash for start
The shorter the leash is, the more control you have over your dog. It does not mean that you must hang it though. The dog should still be able to walk comfortably, without keeping its head up or feeling restricted. Leashes also come in more models and designs. Some harnesses attach on the back, while some leashes go right on top of the neck. The closer it is to the top of the neck, the easier you and your dog will communicate. Guidance becomes way simpler, as well as corrections.
Whether it comes to corrections, the leash length or guiding tips, always perform them with the dog’s safety in mind. The first training sessions will become a nightmare. You will feel frustrated and annoyed, especially if the dog is stubborn. But teaching asks for hard work and patience, so do it gently.
Choose a short leash which attach closer to top of the neck at the start.
5. Offer rewards after the walk
Nothing can motivate dogs better than rewards. The more often they come, the easier it becomes to get the dog used to specific activities. It will soon associate the respective reward with the previously conducted activity – in this case, leash walking. Once you go inside and finish all the tasks (like taking shoes off or cleaning the dog’s paws), give your furry friend a reward. It’s favorite food might be a good option. Providing food makes your dog think that it has actually worked for it. Such things will not happen overnight, but in the long run.
Reward the dog with food or playtime after a session
6. Walk fast
Walking fast is a pretty smart idea, yet it depends on the dog breed. If you have a Basset Hound, it cannotkeep up with you because it is heavy and feels exhausted within minutes only. The same goes for very small breeds, whose steps are very small. When you think about walking fast, think about what speed actually means to your dog, as well as its proportions. If the dog trots, it will have less occasions to sniff something attractive. Besides, it will no longer eliminate so often to mark the territory. Furthermore, understanding the dog philosophy is a must. Dogs find you more interesting when you walk more quickly. They expect something to happen, so they will curiously follow you.
Walking fast helps in leash training. If you walk slowly, it increases the risk of dog interested in wandering else where because you are too slow.
7. Walking in front
Learning how to train a dog to walk on a leash implies walking in front of it. This way, you will become the pack leader. Some dogs might have different plans. If it pulls in front of you, it inevitably believes that it has become the pack leader, so you will lose your authority. You must be the first one leaving the home, as well as the first one stepping in. When walking down the street, you might want to keep an eye on your furry friend. It does not always have to stay behind you, but also on one side. Just ensure that it will not become your leader.
Ensure that you are always leading the dog instead of the other way round.
As a short final conclusion, walking on a leash stimulates training and prepares the dog for further training. It is an exercise of discipline and respect for your dog. Leaving it off the leash can be accepted in safe environments, but only as rewards. If you always walk your dog without a leash and it runs or sniff freely around, chances are this training venture will become more complicated, yet it is still doable. If you have a puppy, you can consider yourself to be lucky though, since you can start this program at a very early age. Generally speaking, leash training a puppy is easier but the best part about older dogs is that they are wiser, more understanding, mature and not so active, so both categories can provide outstanding results if you are dedicated enough. Follow the above tips and you will learn how to lead train a dog and train you buddy provided you put in some dedication, effort and consistency.