How to Train Your Dog to Walk on a Leash

Maybe you’ve recently added a new puppy to the family, and he’s jumping around like a fish on a line. Perhaps an older dog has adopted you and loves to pull you down the street on your walks. Whatever the situation is, getting your dog to walk properly on a leash is vital for your safety, as well theirs. A dog that pulls could easily get away from you or, if it’s a large breed, pull you over. Learning proper leash etiquette is an integral part of your fur baby’s training to keep walk time fun for everyone.

Which Collar Should You Choose?

Picking out a spiffy new collar and leash is one of the most exciting parts of adding a new dog to the family, but the choices can be overwhelming. Between showy rhinestone collars and utilitarian nylon harnesses, you can quickly get confused. Take the breed of dog, and its shape and musculature into account when selecting a collar for walks. Brachycephalic breeds, (think flat-faced dogs like bulldogs and pugs), do better on a harness due to their short breathing passages. Small dogs and dogs with a history of a collapsed trachea will also do better walking on a harness to keep the pressure off their windpipe.

Some dogs that are powerful pullers do well on a gentle leader or face harness similar to those used on horses. These are also a good choice for very slender dogs like greyhounds, their slim necks and noses make it very easy for them to slip out of a regular collar, a Martingale collar is another great choice for narrow-headed dogs. There may be a certain amount of trial and error, but don’t get discouraged. You will find the collar that works best for your pup.

Let The Leash Training Begin

Once you’ve found the collar and proper leash that works best for your dog, it’s time to start training. Don’t rush outside right away, though! You’ll want to start slowly. Allow your pup to get used to the feeling of the collar or harness. Reward them for positive behavior, such as allowing you to put on the harness. Slowly introduce the leash and let them run around the house with it on.  Practice walking around the house. Once they seem comfortable with the collar and leash, it’s time to take it to the sidewalk!

You will want to train your dog to walk beside you to prevent pulling and to maintain control. Keep a treat bag handy on your walks to reward good behavior. For right-handed people walking with your fur baby on your left side, which is traditional, makes it easier to hand out treats. For lefties, you may find it easier to walk with your pup on your right. Figure out which position feels most natural to you and your dog. Reward them with a treat for walking next to you. If they get distracted and try to pull ahead, simply stop and say, “no.” Give the leash one sharp tug, but do not drag your dog back. When they return to you, reward them with a treat.

As with any training, be patient; when dealing with a puppy, remember they’re easily distracted. Attempting leash training after they’re slightly tuckered out from a hard play session can help them keep their focus. Always try to make the experience fun and reward them for behaving correctly, so they associate good behavior with good times.

Older dogs can present a slightly different challenge. They may be set in their ways and try to resist training. Rest assured, you absolutely can teach an old dog new tricks. Patience and practice will eventually have them walking in “heel.”

If it seems like your dog is taking forever to learn the ropes, don’t get discouraged. Every dog is an individual with a distinct personality, and they all learn at a different pace. Every pet parent has had that panicked moment when their pup spotted a squirrel and tried to take off. It’s all a part of being a pet parent and will make a funny story once you get the leaves out of your hair.

Working long hours, but need someone to make sure your fur-baby keeps their leash walking skills sharp? No problem! Dog walking is just one of the many services we offer!

Happy walking!



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