Taking your dog for a walk may feel more like a chore than a fun activity to do together if he is walking ahead of you, pulling on the leash or even yo-yo’ing back and forth. Ideally, your dog should follow your guidance and always pay attention to you, walk on a loose leash and still enjoy exploring the great outdoors. Training your dog to do just that is easier than you may think!
Follow these easy steps to learn how to train a dog to walk on a leash:
When you first begin training your pup to walk nicely on a loose leash, you will need to begin in a familiar and distraction free area. Usually the inside of your home during a quiet time is best for your dog to begin learning. Attach his leash to his collar or harness and have a handful of treats ready to use.
Begin walking in a direction and encourage your dog to follow you. When he catches up to you place a treat behind your heel. While your dog grabs and begins eating the treat begin walking again! You want to place the treat behind you so that he has to catch up to you again to be rewarded. This is the start of teaching him that being with you is the most rewarding place to be!
Dogs often times catch on very quickly to this and will begin eating their treat while staying right with you! This is a good sign. Hand him a food reward as he stays by your side and does not pull on the leash. Keep all training sessions short, under 10 minutes for adult dogs and 5 minutes for puppies. Short sessions that end on a good note will progress your dog’s training much faster than long, grueling training sessions!
Before you move on to anything too difficult for your dog, add distractions in the area you have already been working in. Place toys or chews on the floor that you must walk past. Encourage other household members to be in the area. Just as before, place a treat behind your heel as your dog catches up to you while you verbally encourage him to follow. If he stays with you, reward him!
When your dog has mastered staying with you indoors, take him into your yard or a familiar area outside with little to no distractions. Doing these exercises in various areas will help to solidify your dog’s behavior into a reliable loose leash walking experience for the both of you in the long run! In this area, do the same as you did in the beginning. Begin walking while encouraging your dog to catch up to you. When he does, place a treat at your heel.
If your dog is too distracted in this area, he may walk past you or completely ignore you. In training loose leash walking, you need to show your dog that you are the most rewarding thing in his environment. This means being more important to him than the dog across the street or people walking behind him. If he does ignore you, it’s okay to go back a few training steps and try a less distracting area. Moving too far ahead of your dog’s learning skills can hinder your training.
When you decide to take this training to the final level of actually walking, the exercise changes a little. It can help to use a device like a front clip harness to help prevent pulling during training. Doing so can make the wrong behavior more difficult while making the right behavior easy.
Instead of dropping the treat by your heel, you will hand the treat to your dog as he stays with you. If at any point he pulls ahead or turns away, change directions! Encourage him to catch up and reward him when he does.
Practice Makes Perfect
Never stop training! A dog never stops learning and to keep these good behaviors it helps to occasionally test your pup by changing directions. Always reward him for good behavior, and you’ll be walking side by side on your outdoor excursions in no time!
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