Every dog can benefit from learning to walk properly on a leash, regardless of your home setting. Obviously, leash training is essential for city dwellers, but understanding how to remain focused and calm while leashed is important for country dogs too! Every dog needs to visit the veterinarian periodically and visit the groomer regularly, and the obedience training and trust gained are extremely beneficial for any dog.
Ground Rules For Leash Training
Training your dog to walk with a leash can start from the earliest age! The adage about old dogs and new tricks has some truth to it and it is certainly true that puppies benefit greatly from being exposed to as many new experiences as possible. Get your puppy used to wearing a collar or harness from the beginning, and introduce them to walking on a leash from an early age so the concept is familiar. Be consistent, and use treats and high praise to motivate your pup to learn.
Most owners choose to teach their dog to walk on a loose leash, meaning their dog has more freedom of movement and can roam a little as long as they never pull against the leash. If you live in the city or are likely to bring your dog to more crowded areas, consider training them to heel. This technique teaches your dog to walk right next to you, keeping pace with you and not straying from your side. Always shower your dog with lots of praise when do something right in the training process!
Training Progression: Walking on a Loose Leash
- Practice indoors. Start with no leash, just a collar and a pocket full of treats!
- Call your puppy to your side, and immediately reward them with praise and a treat when they come.
- Next, walk a short distance through your home, encouraging your dog to come with you. When they are at your side immediately give them a treat. Stop after a short distance so they are likely to succeed in the early stages of training. Practice this frequently – lots of small victories, praise, and treats are key.
- Repeat this process indoors until your dog is eagerly following you when called, anticipating their next treat!
- Continue the same techniques while remaining indoors, but add a leash. If your dog pulls, immediately stop and call them back to you. Pulling means they don’t get to go anywhere, but coming back to you is a good thing! Give a treat and lots of praise when they come back to you, then continue forward and repeat the process anytime they pull.
- Time to practice outdoors! Find an area that is as distraction-free as possible to set them up for success. Continue the same techniques and commands.
- Be consistent. With time and repetition, your puppy will learn to always remain within the range of the leash. Remember that your biggest tools are praise and the ever-present treat. Your puppy wants to please you, so take advantage of that in training and make a big deal out of every success.
A dog who walks well and obeys promptly gives you and your puppy so much freedom! Instead of stressing over whether your dog will bolt the moment you take them outside, you will have a dog who eagerly comes to you when called, doesn’t pull you down the sidewalk every time you take them out for a walk, and has learned to focus on you even with distractions. These skills are essential to the safety and happiness of your dog, so get ready for your whole family to have fun with your newly trained puppy.