6 Steps to Effectively Train Your Puppy to Walk on a Leash
Training a dog to walk without a leash is an important and rewarding experience, but not everyone lives in a region where they can walk their dog off leash. If you have to walk your dog on a leash, and he is pulling and making your walks uncomfortable, here are a few good tips that will make the walks more enjoyable.
Top Leash Walking Tips
- Train your dog in an enclosed yard
- Start out with a loose collar and some treats
- Praise and treat the dog for not pulling or dragging
- Keep the session interesting by introducing new moves
- Try a new area
Tips to Train Your Dog to Walk on a Leash
- Attach your puppy's buckle collar. At least for the first few days, try walking in a fenced-off or walled yard so that the dog is not really going anywhere. (If you do not have an enclosed yard, try a park where there are no other dogs or people around. Quiet parks surrounded by chain-link fences are your best option, but if there are other dogs around when you start, then this might not work.)
- Give your dog a tiny treat to make him interested in you, put the leash on your dog, and start walking. If he starts pulling immediately stop, turn right, and walk again. If the dog starts pulling, just repeat this exercise. This may need to be repeated several times, but most dogs will just give up if they realize they are not getting anywhere.
- If your dog is dragging along instead of forging ahead, call his attention to you and give him a treat. (You can say his name but do not give the recall command. Some people like to use a clicker; I like to make a sound in the back of my throat.) This usually keeps the dog focused on you so that he'll be too interested in you to start pulling; this is the key to teaching your puppy to walk with you on a loose leash.
- Walk around the yard with your dog at your side, giving him a treat occasionally so that he will keep focused on you.
- Once your dog is walking by your side without pulling, introduce some new moves. Try a circle, walk in a square, try a circle eight, etc.. You need to do this twice a day for fifteen minutes or so, for at least a week.
- If your dog is not pulling on the leash in the yard, you can walk in another area with some distractions.
- If your dog starts pulling again as soon as you start walking outside the yard there are several options. You can move back to the yard and try to reinforce the basics, you can try a harness that is supposed to make your dog off-balanced and less likely to pull, you can use a prong collar, or as a final alternative, you can use the type of collar that will choke your dog.
What If Nothing Works?
Back in the early 90s, when Uncle Matty was the dog trainer everyone listened to, Cesar Millan had not yet been heard of, and clickers were just used to train dolphins, the best way to stop your dog from tugging on his leash was to stop and start walking the other way.
It still works best.
If your dog does not respond to the stopping and turning method, you can try purchasing and using one of the no-pull harnesses. If you are still having problems and are overwhelmed by the strength of the dog, I recommend you use a prong collar.
I have used a prong collar to stop dogs from pulling on the leash when the technique of stopping and walking the other direction has no effect. A German neighbor of mine who is 80 plus years old, walks his Rottweiler on the beach. They used to arrive at my house blue in the face—both of them. He had tried a no-pull harness with little effect, had tried stopping and turning, and he finally decided to use a choke chain on his 130-pound dog each morning. Despite what the moderators of Reddit believe, a prong collar is not cruel.
When the dog´s owner switched to a prong collar, the dog stopped pulling. This was the only way that the owner could refrain from being cruel and tugging on the dog.
The Gentle Leader and Halti Head Collar
What about using a head harness like the Gentle Leader or Halti head collar?
A head halter can actually do more neck damage than a prong collar, at least according to many dog trainers, including Joaquim and Wendy Volhard. They have had to send some of their client dogs to canine chiropractors after the use of a Halti, but have had results similar to my own after using a prong collar. Not everyone agrees on this issue, of course, and if you would like to read an opposing viewpoint, you should read other articles and form your own opinion.
There are a lot of options available to you if you want to train your dog to stop pulling on his leash. If you need more help, just leave a comment and I will respond as soon as possible.
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