Walking on a leash does not come naturally to your dog. Does your dog practically yank you off your feet whenever you take it for a walk? Are you thinking about just putting your dog in the back yard for exercise and giving up walking all together? Do not give up yet. A few loose leash-training tips and your dog will be walking by your side, so you both can enjoy each other’s company. Whether you are a professional dog trainer or an amateur dog owner, all it takes is time and patience for successfully learning how to leash train a dog.Patience Is the Key to Leash Training
The most important thing you need to leash train your dog is patience. If you are having a bad day or if you are not in the mood to deal with your exuberant dog, put off training for another day.
Get a six-foot long leash for leash training your dog. Choose a leash that is comfortable for your hand, since your dog will be pulling. Avoid leashes that pull out to 15 or 20 feet. Extend-a-leashes make keeping your dog under control too difficult, especially if there are other dogs nearby. Keep the thumb of your right hand through the loop and then drape the rest of the leash through the left hand, giving your dog about two feet of leash from his collar.
Use a clip collar rather than a choke chain or pinch collar. Your dog will learn quicker through positive reinforcement rather than through pain and fear. Your dog will actually enjoy training when you offer treats for positive behavior instead of tugging a choke chain for negative behavior.
Become the Most Important Thing in Your Dog’s Life
The basis of successful loose leash walking is to have your focus only on you. You must become the most exciting thing in your dog’s life. You do this by holding the leash and luring your dog toward you as you back away from him. Have your dog’s favorite treat or toy in your hand and just play with him as he follows you. Your dog will thing it’s playtime instead of training. Be generous with the treats and the praise, using a happy, excited voice.
Start your loose leash training without any type of distractions for your dog. This can be in your backyard or even in the house. When your dog constantly follows you and keeps focusing on you, venture into your neighborhood. If your dog starts pulling you and cannot focus, go back to practicing in your yard again. Stay in the yard with your dog following you until he is doing this 100 percent of the time.
Keep Training Short
As your dog follows you, put him in a sit or down every few minutes. This keeps your dog guessing, so he has to stay focused on you. This is also a great way for you to take a short break, especially if you are losing patience.
After a few seconds of sitting, have your dog follow you again. You will have more control over your dog’s behavior by stopping and having him sit every few minutes.
Keep your training sessions to about 10 or 15 minutes. You want to end the training on a positive note while your dog is having a good time and before he loses focus on you.
Start Your Dog Walking Beside YouIs your dog following you consistently yet? If you answered, “Yes”, then it is time to begin having your dog walk beside you. Follow the same procedure as you did when your dog was following you. Begin in your backyard or in the house, away from all distractions.
With your dog at your side, stand still. Try not to move, even if your dog starts pulling you. This is a difficult thing to do if you have a large dog but try not to move too much. Soon, your dog will figure out that he is not going for a walk and will either stand still and look at your or he will sit.
As soon as your dog sits or looks at you, take a step. Most likely, your dog will get excited and pull again. Immediately stop and stand still again. You have heard the saying, “Patience is a virtue”, well your virtue is about to be tested. Do not take another step until the leash is loose and your dog sits down, even if it takes the entire training period.Repeat this step repeatedly until your dog understands that you will not take another step until he is beside you. Eventually, your dog will walk beside you in your back yard without pulling. The next test is to go out into the neighborhood and continue training.
No matter what you are training your dog to do, it takes patience and perseverance. If you keep up with your training for a few minutes every day, your dog will be walking calmly beside you whenever you go for a walk.