Dogs are a man’s best friend, and with the right training, they can be great additions to any family. Teaching your dog to walk on a leash is one of the most important aspects of dog training. This can be a difficult task for some dogs, but with patience and proper technique, it can be accomplished. In this article, we will discuss some tips and techniques for leash dog training that should help you get started.
What to Do Before Starting Leash Training
Before you begin leash dog training, it is important that your dog has mastered the sit command. If they are not capable of sitting on command then teaching them to walk on a leash will be even more difficult.
To teach your dog the sit command, start out with them facing away from you. Place some treats in front of their nose and slowly raise them up above their head. When they are sitting down, praise them well and give them a treat for being well-behaved.
Eventually, your dog should associate the word “sit” with doing this action. Then whenever you say “sit,” they will automatically assume this position without any additional assistance from you or treat it as reinforcement. When your dog understands how to sit on command, you may begin leash training.
Using a Leash in Dog Training
The easiest way to teach your dog how to walk with a leash is to place it around their neck and attach it when they are in the middle of eating. They will still be distracted by the food, but they should automatically feel the pressure on their throat when they attempt to move forward.
As long as you praise them well for not moving while the leash is on, they should have no problem associating this sensation with being stationary. This method takes advantage of the fact that dogs do not like being choked or restrained, so if done correctly, it shouldn’t create any negative associations between a collar and a lead attached.
However, some dogs may not respond well to this approach, such as those who are especially food-motivated. If your dog is not very easily distracted and does not mind you holding a leash while they eat, then this may work fine for you.
However, if your dog will only sit still when there is a treat in front of them, then you can use that to your advantage and teach them how to walk on a leash by moving the treat back slowly while keeping it directly in their line of sight.
Once they begin following the treats around while keeping their head low to the ground, the leash should naturally tighten up around their neck which should create an association between having something tight around their throat and where they are looking. This works because dogs do not like being choked either, so they will likely never make the connection between a leash and their owner’s hand.
If your dog is having trouble following the treats around for whatever reason, you can try to lead them by taking hold of their collar and guiding them with it. This may take some practice, but eventually, they should reach the point where they are comfortable moving forward when there is something restricting their movement behind them.
As long as you praise them well while doing this, they should reach the same association between moving towards what you are holding in front of them and being rewarded for it rather than getting choked or restrained.
Avoid Using Negative Reinforcement
Negative reinforcement should be avoided while leash training your dog because anytime that you use an action that restricts their movement while withholding a treat or good thing, you are simply teaching them to be afraid of whatever they are leashed up next to. If your goal is to teach them how to walk on a leash, then the best way to accomplish this is by using positive reinforcement rather than negative methods.
Using positive reinforcement, also known as clicker training, entails giving the dog a treat whenever they complete an action that you were looking for. The most common form of this in leash training is clicking the moment when the dog’s head begins to turn away from whatever it is you are holding in front of them followed by feeding them a small piece of their regular meal or giving them some praise if they are not currently eating.
This tells them exactly what behavior was right and encourages them to repeat it in the future.
In addition to making leash training a positive experience for your dog, clicker training allows them to see a pattern that they can predict and then expect a reward in response. This is much more effective than using negative reinforcement because the dogs tend to catch on faster and continue to be consistent with their behavior even when their owner isn’t holding anything or trying to reward them.
Don’t Yank or Pull Leashes
The risk of using negative reinforcement goes up exponentially whenever you have something tied around your pet’s neck so it is best not to do this at all during leash training. In fact, the only time that you should have something tightly fastened around their throat is when they are being taken outside to go to the restroom or are being groomed.
What this means for leash training is that you should never yank on the lead to pull your dog back towards you, even if they suddenly get distracted by something up ahead. Doing so could cause serious injuries or pain in their neck and throat which will make them fear having anything tied around their neck again.
If you have trouble getting control of your pet without pulling too hard, try to find a wide collar where they can’t slip out of it easily. This gives you less room to hold onto while still preventing choking but works well enough for most dogs that are just beginning to be trained on how to walk on a leash with positive reinforcement teaching methods.
The same for the way in which many people use leashes in general. Yanking or pulling on a leash does not accomplish much other than making the dog strain against whatever is holding it back and then forcing them to learn how to pull harder next time in order to get its owner moving.
If you make this a habit, it will be more difficult for you in the future when you try to take them anywhere because they will pull at every opportunity until they make themselves sick from doing so.
A Leash Should Be Used for Control, Not Choking
If we look at dogs that are generally kept within a yard or house as their own personal “property,” then we can say that anything attached to their neck should be reserved only for preventing escape and nothing else. This means that any leash being used for the purpose of leash training should never have anything tied to it that would restrict their movement or breathe in any way.
- Likewise, this means that owners should always be in control of where they are walking when there is a leash attached to their dog’s collar. If they are crossing streets without your permission then you need to keep them closer to you with less slack so that you can guide them away from danger before it even presents itself.
- Likewise, if your pet cannot sit or lay down on command despite lots of rewards and praise then something has gone wrong with the training process and the only way forward will be through punishment in order to get them back in line.
Punishment Doesn’t Work Well When Leash Training Dogs
Punishment is typically the last thing that you would want to try with leash training your dog because it is not always effective and can often make matters worse. This is especially true if the punishment comes about as a result of their behavior, meaning that they are getting punished for something after they do it instead of before like with negative reinforcement.
When this happens, you run the risk of confusing or frightening your pet which could lead them to act out even more or become fearful enough that they begin to avoid whatever situation led them into trouble in the first place. Oftentimes, doing so only prompts your dog to stop listening to you completely until whatever issue has been resolved rather than just trying harder to please you.
After all, dogs are not like young children. They don’t understand what we are saying and they cannot read our emotions as we can with them.
What your dog needs is a leader and guide that they can trust and respect to tell them the best way to behave in any given situation, not someone who punishes them for acting on their natural instincts as most dogs would do if you were angry at them for doing something wrong.
Your Pet Will Need Time to Adjust
Natural instincts also play into how easily dogs can handle leash training because some animals were bred for this purpose whereas others simply were not. If you have just adopted a pet from another home then it could take up to six months before they adjust properly to walking nicely beside you without much effort on your part.
Bred-to-be guard dogs, protection dogs, herding dogs, sled pulling dogs, or hunting buddies, will need a lot more training and time before they will cooperate with you on a leash. Once this happens though, they will enjoy going for walks just as much as any other breed of dog because it is the instinct of their genetic background that drives them forward from here on out.
Making Your Dog Comfortable With Leash Training
For some breeds, training may not even be necessary at all depending on what you want them to do with the leash. If your pet is already trained in one of these areas then simply attaching a leash and going for a walk together can be fun for both of you without having to deal with any negative behaviors.
On the other hand, if you have a dog that needs help with leash training then you need to start as early as possible and slowly expose them to situations where they can get used to wearing a collar and being led around by you.
This means doing everything from letting them carry toys on their collars, playing tug of war so that they learn what it feels like, and even going for short walks in new environments so that they can see how much control you have over them before causing an accident.
If your pet continues to struggle with leash training no matter what you do, then consider consulting a professional dog trainer that can evaluate their behavior and offer tips for how you can work together as a team better than before.
Positive reinforcement is always the best way to train your dog because you are teaching them that they have a choice in their behaviors, not just following through with commands until they get it right. In this case, your pet will learn that if they relax and enjoy themselves then life gets easier for both of you instead of being forced into doing something against their nature.
Leash training takes some time and effort at the most basic level, but once your pet is comfortable with it then they can enjoy going for walks like most other dogs by your side. Always be patient with them though because every breed requires something different in terms of leash training, and never punish your pet harshly or try to force their cooperation until you have tried all other options first.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:
Q. What can I do to teach my dog not to tug on the leash?
Ans: The solution is actually fairly straightforward. You may do this by educating your dog to walk on a slack leash rather than tugging you around. Start by training your dog to walk next to you while he’s still off-leash, and reward him every time he stays next to you. It may take a while, but if you practice often and stay patient, you should be able to get there.
Q. What kind of collar can I use for leash training?
Ans: It is determined by your dog’s breed as well as how he or she behaves when wearing a collar. Some dogs prefer to wear a flat collar or harness that does not put too much pressure around their throat while others will feel more comfortable with a training collar.
Q. How long does it take to train my dog to walk on a leash?
Ans: It depends on how stubborn your pet is, but generally speaking, you should expect at least six months of training before he/she starts walking nicely on the leash without pulling you around. Actually, the more time you dedicate to this, the faster and better results you’ll get.
Q. What is the best time to start leash training?
Ans: The earlier, the better. This way your dog gets used to wearing a collar and to you controlling him/her with it. If that’s not possible then try to get started as early as possible anyway because it will be much harder if training starts after six months or more.
Q. Should I let my dog stop and sniff?
Ans: Let them do it for a few seconds, but if they start sniffing for minutes on end then it’s best to get back home. If you wait with moving, something dangerous might happen that you won’t be able to avoid.