Set the scene: It is a beautiful day the sun is out, the wind is blowing through the leaves, you can hear the birds singing in the distance and it has been a busy couple of days so you could do with a relaxing walk down the street or at the neighborhood park with your trustworthy, furry companion.
So you pick up the leash, you strap the leash on Waffles (let’s call your dog that for now, for an academic purpose of course) but then you remember their antics the last time you went out for a walk, they probably kept pulling in every direction and giving you a hard time, the memory then makes you hesitate and you think maybe it’s best you go solo today.
Believe it or not, but this kind of situation isn’t only peculiar to your dog, most dogs that haven’t been leash trained would most probably do the same or even worse. They could be pulling away to go sniffing or because they want to potty or simply because being around other dogs or humans gets them feeling anxious.
There are many reasons why Waffles could be proving a handful on your walks but it’s important to remember they aren’t doing it to frustrate you, it’s only being a dog. Making a mental note of this and being patient with it is probably the first step to training your dog to walk by your side and behave well while on a leash.
Things not to do when you leash train your dog
Walking a dog that hasn’t been leash trained could be a really stressful experience. This is especially true for folks who own large breed dogs, if you’re a bit on the smaller side, you might have little or no control of the dog. Another reason why this could be stressful is that you don’t want the dog pulling too hard on the leash and hurting themselves.
An absolute no is using a harsh tone at your dog. Most dog owners are likely to do this because they feel by doing this they might get the dog to listen. However, you should know that by using negative reinforcement to train your dog you could cause it to have anxiety problems. It’s very important you try to keep your cool.
Remember that one of the reasons you would want to go walking with your dog is to bond with it, another reason would be to get it to exercise because it needs that cardio walk as much as you do.
Now that we have gone over what not do, let’s move forward to the next talking point.
Ways You Can Leash Train Your Dog
Reward and Positive Reinforcement: Just like humans, our dogs love being rewarded too. When you reward a dog, it is a way of communicating to it that whatever they’re doing is good and if they keep it up they will get more rewards for it. This is the best way to train your dog to adopt good leash manners and of course getting it to be a “good dog”. Make sure that it’s a highly motivating treat that’s special for this type of training. Giving your dog some small pieces of cheese, hot dogs or other types of dog treats to encourage them when it’s doing the right things while you are out for a walk will have them subconsciously repeating them in hopes they’ll get rewarded with a treat. Another way to reward your dog is by using positive reinforcements like petting them or calling them “a good boy/girl”. Most dog owners don’t notice this but dogs feed off your energy, so saying nice things to your dog in an excited tone of voice will not only have it feeling happy and less anxious but also teach them to keep behaving right.
Taking Regular Walks: Going on regular walks with your dog whenever you can, is like the practice you teach it what and what not to do. A way to do this is by abruptly stopping when it is pulling the leash, it is likely that when you do this, the dog will stop to or even walk towards you, repeat this as often as it pulls and your dog is most likely return to your side each time. Also, remember to give it a treat when it does.
Using the Right Equipment: There’s equipment that you can use while taking your dog on a walk that teaches it not to pull and reduce the effect when they do. You could shop for a bungee leash or get a two handle leash which works well for big dogs. These type of leashes are usually lightweight, stretchy and have shock absorbers that will help minimize the effect of your dog pulling and might get it to even stop this behavior over time. Another handy equipment for dog owners is the training harness. This equipment is an attachment to the leash that is placed on the dog’s back not only helps your dog pull less while on walks but it also ensures that your dog isn’t hurting their neck by pulling. There are two types of no-pull harnesses: those with the hook for the leash on the back on those that have the hook on the chest. The ones that hook the leash on the chest are very good to train medium and small dogs while the other ones do well with large breeds. This equipment is a must-have for dog owners who wish to go on more pleasant walks with their dogs.
Get Some Assistance: If you are not the DIY type, you can hire the assistance of a professional dog trainer to help you train your dog to learn good leash manners. This could be done with one-to-one sessions or in a group course. This is a great opportunity to bond with your dog.
Remember that you need to be patient while training your dog to behave better while on walks because you will eventually get the results you want when you’re consistent. Also, shopping for the right equipment will quickly improve the unwanted behavior and get you going on walks with your dog more often. Don’t hesitate to contact us for advice on picking the right size or equipment to once and for all leash train your dog.