How do you train a dog to walk on a leash? Walking your dog is essential for their physical and mental health. However, most dog owners forgo this activity because they are unsure if their dogs can behave well while on a leash.
Here’s a fun fact for you: You can train your dog to walk on a leash with ease.
Easy Techniques to Train a Dog to Walk on a Leash
Fair warning: Training a dog is not a walk in the park, but it shouldn’t be an overwhelmingly exasperating experience either. Here are some ways on how to train your dog to walk on a leash without pulling that can only frustrate both of you
Step 1 – Introduce Your Dog to a Marker
Applicable in all dog training, a dog marker is any sound you produce when your dog is obedient or has done something correctly.
A marker word is usually what most dog parents teach their pups – even before the command “sit” or “up.” This is a powerful methodology that your canine friend can associate with reward – in the form of encouraging words and delicious treats, allowing them to adhere to your commands better. You must use this designated market each time your dog does something correctly.
Step 2 – Build a Positive Association
Dogs would often automatically associate sounds or objects to a particular activity. For instance, they would learn to associate the sound of your car with your arrival at home. The same can be applied to a leash. You must create a positive association. Your dog must relate the leash to a fun outdoor activity with you.
When you are teaching your dog to walk on a leash, always make sure that the entire process is pleasant and that the small achievements of your dog are always celebrated.
Step 3 – Make Your Dog Pay Attention
Use the powerful combination of the command “watch” while saying your dog’s name. This technique draws your dog’s attention to you and signals that he needs to wait for further instructions or guidance.
Avoid giving too many commands at a time, which can confuse your dog. Try to make them focus on your commands first to make any training successful.
Step 4 – Teach Your Dog to Come to You
One important trick to remember when training your dog is to enhance their recall skills. You must ensure that your dog can come to you with ease when called. This can make you confident in keeping your dog safe while giving them the freedom to act like a dog. Often, this lies in how effective you are in listening to your commands.
Step 5 – Train Your Dog to Heel
Walking with your dog at a “heel” means your dog staying close to your side when walking. This is an excellent way for you to instill discipline in your dog – whether they are on or off the leash.
Step 6 – Teach Your Dog to Walk By Your Side
One of the primary things to remember when training your dog to walk on a leash is to prevent them from walking in front of you. Your dog might take this as a signal that they are the pack leader. As your dog’s master, you have to establish that you are the alpha. Do this by setting the pace and positioning your dog to walk by your side.
Use your marker if your dog stays at pace with you on the side, even for a short distance. Start with short walks first with a tight leash and eventually explore more space.
Step 7 – Take it Outside
After your backyard training, slowly introduce your dog to the outside world. Start walking your dog in less crowded places so it won’t be too overwhelming for your dog.
You can start around your neighborhood block until you progress to the park and eventually anywhere you want to go.
Why is Leash Training Important?
You and your dog both want your walks and outdoor excursions around the neighborhood to be fun and not be episodes of tug and war.
Here are more reasons why training your dog to walk on a leash is essential.
Compliance With Leash Guidelines
Every state and city will have its own set of rules related to dogs, and one of the most common guidelines is that they need to be on a leash. While you don’t intend to go out that much, training your dog to walk on a leash will still bring advantages, mainly if you need to make the necessary trips to your dog’s vet, pet stores, groomers, and park.
Avoids Mutual Frustration
When your dog pulls on its leash, you get frustrated and tend to pull back. This continuous and building frustration can end up with you losing your temper on your dog. This frustration can lead to cutting the stroll around the park or even abandoning the idea of going out again.
Lesser Doggie Strain
Dogs that keep on straining at their leashes also get frustrated. This emotion can lead to stress, making it harder for them to socialize. Remember that a tight leash can be restricting. Your dog might feel too controlled and trapped, which can further worsen their stress levels.
Prevents Physical Harm
Training your dog to walk on a leash is also best to ensure their physical health is in check. Teach your dogs to walk on both sides. Constant preference for a single side can cause strain on your dog’s overused side.
Additionally, pulling your dog constantly against the neck collar may cause injury to his cervical vertebrae, larynx, and trachea. There may be instances when you unintentionally apply a force that can strain your dog. Training to walk them on a loose leash can help prevent this.
Promotes good behavior
Walking on a leash fosters discipline, cooperation, socialization, and good behavior.
Once you’ve mastered walking them on a leash, you can progress to the different ways on how to teach your dog to behave in a park. This way, you can relax because your dog has good behavior when outdoors.
When to Start Leash Training
Leash training is not an overnight process. It takes weeks and months of consistent training to have your dog learn the correct walking etiquette.
So what age to start leash training a puppy? You can begin leash training once your puppy reaches 4 to 6 weeks old. And it is highly recommended that you keep them within your property because, at this age, they haven’t fully received their vaccinations yet.
Puppies are eager to learn but have short attention spans and are learning plenty of commands, so limit the training and always provide breaks every 10-15 minutes. Make sure that you provide plenty of encouragement, praise, and treats.
How long does it take for a dog to be leash trained? It depends. Don’t be pressured, and don’t pressure your dog because there is no specific timeline for learning and training.
In general, dogs that start leash training at 4 to 6 weeks old can be walking pro after 1.5 months.
Again, consider other factors that can prolong the ideal six-week timeline, like your dog’s learning curve, training approach and effectiveness, and learning consistency. If you have a senior canine, you may also want to explore how to leash train an older dog.
Things Needed to Start Leash Training
Start your dog’s leash training by preparing the following:
- A retractable training leash for puppy or adult dog that is around 1-2 meters
- Collar, head halter, or any harness
- Dog treats
- Dog poop bags for accidents and emergencies
- Plenty of patience, a positive attitude, and a commitment from your end to work with your dog
- A GPS tracker can come in handy when your dog suddenly gets loose
Addressing Common Leash Training Issues
How do you train a dog to walk on a leash without issues? The first thing to remember is that you’ll always face challenges. Here are the most common ones and what to do about them:
Dog Pulling On The Leash
Dogs are natural explorers. When you go out, expect them to wander off from your route that they may pull on the leash. As part of dog leash training, you have to set the pace for walking. If your dog forcefully pulls, your dog gets where it wants to go faster than what you intend.
What do you do about this? Never jerk to control your dog. Instead, only allow your dog to move forward when the leash is loose. You can even opt for a complete stop to talk to your dog and even allow him to catch his breath.
Once your dog starts to walk in alignment with you, you can begin loosening the leash, allowing them more freedom to explore and sniff around.
Chewing And Mouthing The Leash
Chewing and keeping their mouths busy is a self-soothing mechanism for dogs, so you may experience them grabbing the leash inside their mouths, biting and nipping the restraint.
When your dog does this, it can indicate agitation or stress. Try distracting your dog by asking your dog to do tricks that can be enough to nip the nervousness. Switching to a chain leash can also clip this behavior.
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Once you follow these tips, it won’t be long before people start asking you about, how do you train a dog to walk on a leash? because they’ll notice how well-behaved your furry friend is.
With proper training, you can ensure your dog’s social and physical well-being while improving your bond with your pet.