You just adopted a wonderful dog from your local shelter. He looked so sad sitting there in the cage, and was so excited friendly and affectionate when you opened the cage door. You bring him home in a carrier and all seems well, until you put a leash on your dog to take him outside for a walk. All of a sudden, your outgoing, friendly do, turns into a cowering, shaking, balking ball of nerves. He has obviously never been walked on a leash before, he is scared, confused and stressed. You want to be able to take your new friend on walks for exercise and bonding--what are you going to do? Fortunately, even an old dog can learn new tricks, or more specifically to walk on a leash. You will just need to spend some time training your new dog to accept and use a leash.
Most dogs learn to walk on a leash when they are young, it is a basic skill your dog requires so that you can keep him safe and contained when outdoors. A dog that pulls or resists the leash is not only awkward and unpleasant to walk for their owner, but can injure themselves if too much strain is placed on the neck and windpipe, or if they get loose and run into traffic or other hazards. A dog that pulls on a leash can also injure their owner if they pull them over or drag them into hazards. This risk becomes more pronounced with an adult dog that has more strength than a puppy and may outmuscle the owner.
Some dogs may not learn this basic skill when young because they are raised in a rural environment, where they are not introduced to the leash, or because a stray or rescue dog may not have been provided the attention and training required to master the art of walking on a leash with their previous owner. A dog that has achieved the skill of walking on a leash will not be afraid of or avoid a collar and leash, they will walk at their owner's side without pulling the leash taut or resisting their owner. An older dog may be afraid or anxious when put on a leash, depending on their prior experiences, and if this is the case, getting the older dog to feel comfortable with the leash and not resist or pull away in fright may be required before leash training can commence.
When training your older dog, or any dog, to walk on a leash, it is important to have the correct equipment. You should use a collar that fits your dog properly, it should not be too tight or loose. An alternative to a collar, that is often preferable when training a dog to walk on a leash, is a body harness or a head harness. A dog is apt to put more pressure on their neck and throat while working thru the learning curve of being on a leash, and may be subject to neck and windpipe injuries, so be aware and adjust equipment as needed. You should also teach your dog on a shorter leash, to allow the dog to walk at your side, and not become entangled or put too much distance between you and him, which may encourage him to pull. Also, the leash should be the appropriate weight for the dog. For example, a large or giant breed dog will need a thicker leash than a toy or miniature breed. Retractable leashes are not recommended for training. Bring along treats to reward your dog for responding to your cues and walking well on the leash. The following methods can be useful in teaching an older dog to walk on a leash.
Hello! My family recently purchased a farm with 19 goats and two livestock guardian dogs. The two lgd's have never worn a leash, and are downright terrified of it. We really need them to be able to walk on leash to take them too the vet to get shots, medical treatment, etc.
Any tips on how to acclimate these farm dogs to a leash?
Hello Kaitlyn, First, start by putting a regular collar on each dog and let him wear that for a week until he gets used to having something around his neck. Give them treats while you are putting the collars on. You might need real meat treats like chicken meat. When they are comfortable wearing collars, then when you are at home, attach a two to three foot check cord to each dog's collar while they are in a safely enclosed area and cannot run off if they get spooked. A check cord is a type of leash that is designed for hunting dogs to wear during outdoor training. It does not have a handle, is usually rolled instead of flat webbing, and is made out of a material that slides through the grass easily. Look for a brand like Sportdog or Mendota, you can also create your own out of thin climbing accessory rope. Have each dog wear the leash until he learns to ignore it. Expect the dogs to freak out for the first two days that they have the leashes on. Puppies take time to get used to leashes. It will take an adult at least as long as it does a puppy. They need to learn through experience that the leash is not going to hurt them. While Bella and Bijou are wearing the leash check cords and have calmed down enough, do something really fun with them in the enclosed area without grabbing onto the leash. That could be training exercises with treats, a game like fetch, or giving them each a fun toy. Anything that they love, that they can do while in that enclosed area while wearing the check cords. The purpose of the fun thing is to distract them from the leashes and to make the experience more pleasant so that they will calm down faster. Also only keep the leashes on them while you are around to supervise for safety reasons. Clear your schedule and spend the day with them reading and hanging out where you can see them. When they are used to the leashes dragging behind them, then pick up the handles of the leashes and follow each dog around wherever he wants to go. Have one person work with each dog or do them one at a time. Don't try to handle both yourself. When they are used to you following them while holding onto their leashes, then follow them like before but occasionally give a quick tug on the leash and then give a wonderful reward right after. Practice this until each dog begins to look at you when you tug in anticipation of a reward. Release the tension on the leash again right after you tug. When they will look at you, then occasionally give a tug, but keep the leash tight until the dog turns his head toward you or takes a step toward you. Practice this until both dogs will step toward you when you make the leash tight. From there you can add more steps, rewarding each dog every time that he walks toward you a bit more, until you have dogs who will follow you on a leash while you give him treats. When they can follow you on leash, then you can gradually give them less treats overtime, until you no longer need the treats. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I haven’t really lease trained her. I am ready to start traveling and want to take her with me.
Hello Elaine, It is never too late to leash train Sophie. I recommend that you simply get her used to the leash first by following the "Acclimatize" method in this article bellow: https://wagwalking.com/training/walk-on-a-leash Once Sophie is used to the leash, then you can teach her to walk nicely on the leash by using one of the methods found in this article bellow: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-large-dog-to-not-pull Best of luck training and enjoy your travels with her, Caitlin Crittenden
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