Leash training can be difficult as dogs are naturally excitable, inquisitive and don't instinctively know not to pull on the leash. Here are our top tips for leash walking before we mention a couple of great ways to train this skill without the use of punishment.
- Until mastered, consider every walk a training session and keep the sessions short and fun. This ensures consistency in the lessons your dog is learning.
- Use highly desirable treats that your dog gets at no other time to reward successful leash walking.
- When leash training, walk at a quick pace to try to discourage interest in other things going on. A distracted dog will be difficult to train.
- Avoid pre walk excitement. If your dog gets overly excited when you pick up the leash for walk time, it’s best to stand still and say nothing until they calm down.
- Only attach the leash if your dog is standing on all four paws and is calm. Your training walk will now be more successful.
- Use a four-foot or six-foot leash on a regular buckle, snap collar, martingale collar, head halter or a no-pull harness.
- Avoid choke chains.
Leash Training Methods That Don't Use Punishment
Stop, Start Technique
- When walking your dog, as soon as they reach the end of the leash and start to pull, stop in your tracks and wait. This shows him that if he gets too far ahead, the walk stops.
- When he stops pulling and there is slack in the leash, call him back to you and ask him to sit. When he does, say “yes” and give him a treat. Start walking again.
- As you’re walking and he isn't pulling on the leash, reward him frequently. This rewards him for not going too far ahead.
- These two steps tell your dog that if he stays near you, he will get a treat (and the walk continues) ; but if he pulls on the leash, the walk comes to an end and the supply of treats stops.
Lure and Reward Technique
- Start with your dog on your left side and a handful of small treats in the left hand.
- Place your left hand in front of your dog’s nose so that he can smell the treats and say, “Let’s go walk!”
- As you start walking, every few steps, give him a treat and praise him for walking not too far ahead of you.
- If your dog moves ahead too far, immediately stop and call him back asking him to sit.
- Once sitting, reward him again and re-start the process.
- As he improves (in not pulling), gradually increase the number of steps before each treat.
- Eventually, you will be able to walk him at your side without the need for treats.
With persistence, you will have your dog leash trained in no time at all. Happy walking!