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When you first started thinking about getting a puppy, you likely envisioned the magical walks that the two of you would go on. Dog and owner, perfectly in sync. You whistling happily while Fido trots obediently at your side. The wind blows gently as you go along, not a care in the world.
Then you got the puppy. It doesn't take too long to realize that canines aren't born with a love of the leash. For some, it's a bit of a chore to get your pooch on lead. For others, it's a downright battle. So how do you get from leash pulling misery to jolly jaunt?
It's no doubt frustrating to see the oodles of happy pups and owners out for a walk on your street each and every day. But take heart, all of these dogs attest to the fact that it is possible and even probable that you and your mutt will get there.
If you are teaching a young pup how to walk on a leash, the difficulty of your task will depend on the breed of dog you have, and on that fur buddy's specific personality. If the dog in question is older, things may be a little tougher. But even senior rescue pooches can be taught to love their leash.
Being prepared can make the difference between failure and success. To help your pupper learn how to walk on lead, you should have the following:
A Good Leash: It may sound obvious, but to teach your dog to use a leash, you need a leash. But the type of leash matters as well. Your dog's size and the level of control you require impact on the type of lead you should get.
A Proper Collar: For some dogs, a good fitting collar will do the trick. For others, a harness is key. Some trainers swear by the use of prong collars, especially for the stronger, pulley-er breeds.
Treats: Go to your favorite pet shop and buy a big bag of little treats. This way, you can dish out tons of little rewards throughout your training session.
A Clicker: Make learning easier by using a clicker. You can buy the little noisemakers at most pet supply stores.
Patience! You may not see progress in the first few walks. To be honest, you might not even see much after the first few months. But with persistence, you can teach your doggo proper leash manners.
To make your lead training go smoother, pick one side for your dog to walk on. This helps him from tangling himself up around you, and lets him know he has a designated spot.
Below are some excellent ways to help your furry friend learn that walks are the best things ever. See what one works for you, or combine all three!
The Happy Interaction Method
Make meeting the leash fun
Help your pup associate her lead with good things. Give her lots of treats the first time she sees and smells the lead.
Get her used to it
Let your furbaby tear around the house wearing her leash or harness. This way, it won't be a weird event when you put it on.
Teach your dog to come
While the lead is on her, train your puppy to approach you when asked. Use a verbal command, bribe her with treats, and give lots of praise when she obliges.
Take the leash and walk
As you're doing this, tell the dog to come, and reward her when she does.
Increase the length
At first, your pooch will probably not last too long on walks. But if you gradually increase your distance, soon you two will be unstoppable.
The One Forward, Two Back Method
Leash up and head outside
With all your pup's gear on, head outside to your yard or a nearby field.
Place a treat
Set a yummy goodie a little way ahead as a target for your pooch.
Before you go anywhere, have your dog sit politely at your side. Invite her to stand as you're ready to start.
If she pulls, turn around
At the first sign of resistance, stop in your tracks and go right back to the starting line.
It shouldn't take too many failed attempts before your pupper realizes it's her pulling that is keeping her from the treat, but if it does, don't worry! Hang in there and she will get it eventually.
The Click-Reward Method
Get your handy little clicker
Have this cool tool in hand as you head out for the walk.
Put the leash on
Make sure your pooch is in all of his walking gear.
Watch for the good
Observe your canine closely for the right behavior. As soon as you see your dog walking calmly beside you, even if only for a second, click that clicker (and toss a treat).
If you need to, stop and regroup
If your doggo won't stop bouncing around, stop walking and bring him to a sit at your side. Take a second, then resume.
Click for slack
As soon as your dog stops pulling and the leash goes loose, click and reward!
Bring him in
As he starts to walk a bit better, bring the leash closer to control how he walks. You can give him treats during the process to help him along.
Keep practicing all of these steps. Your dog may have relapses, but if you stay determined he will get the idea.
By Amy Caldwell
Published: 10/05/2017, edited: 01/08/2021