How to Leash Train a Dog?
How to Leash Train a Dog? (Expert Guide)
Does your dog also play tug of war when he is on a leash outside with you? In that case, your dog needs to be leash trained to make the walks politer outside the home. Training a dog to walk properly on a leash is a valuable skill your dog must have.
If you are a dog parent like me, you know the struggle when your dog wraps your legs in the leash. This is because he doesn’t know how to walk with a leash or has no on-leash walking sessions.
You can get professional help from a dog trainer for leash training a dog. However, the process of finding a suitable trainer is cumbersome. Fortunately, leash training a dog is a fairly simple process and you can train your dog to obey on a leash in a short period.
Significance of Leash Training in Dogs
Before you start your journey on leash training, let’s look at some of the benefits of leash training.
Leash Training Makes a Dog Disciplined
A dog who is constantly irritated and agitated on a leash is very stressful to handle. An untrained dog might pull the leash in panic and cause injury to himself and the dog owner. This is especially important if you have a large dog breed that can pull you off your feet.
Leash training makes him polite during walks and keeps him disciplined. When your dog knows your commands, he will behave like a good citizen. To make your walks pleasant and less traumatizing, it is crucial to train your dog to walk on a leash.
Physical & Mental Stimulation
A good way to make your dog stay away from boredom is to take him with you on various activities. This can only be possible when you’re able to handle your furry friend in the outside world.
Luckily, leash training can make this possible so you can take him for outdoor runs. Running and playing are not only important for you but also develop cognitive alertness in dogs. He will enjoy the outdoor times the way he always wanted and that will keep him physically fit.
The Basics of Leash Training a Dog
The leash training is more or less the same in the case of puppies and adult dogs. The first thing to do is to get all the things ready such as a good quality 6-foot-long leash, dog treats, and a dog harness of appropriate size.
Introduce Leash & Harness Slowly
Leash training is not just putting your dog on a leash and forcing him to walk on your commands. It is a gradual process starting from introducing the leash to the dog. You can do that by letting your dog wear the leash once or twice a day during his playtimes.
It is a good idea to associate your dog’s favorite treats with the on-leash playtime. This will give your dog clues like he is about to get his favorite treat the moment he wears the harness and leash.
Teach Markers & Cues
Bridging two stimuli together is a great way to teach your dog to a new leash. You can use a clicker device which is used by professional dog whisperers or a command for that purpose. Both commands and clicker can act as a marker for a desirable behavior and you can also use treats to encourage your dog to do that.
First, do the click-and-treat method in a comfortable and quiet area where your dog doesn’t face any distractions. When he is trained enough to do that, start doing it in open places with a lot of distractions. Make sure to reward your puppy with a treat to keep reinforcing positive behavior.
Do Small Forward & Reverse Movements
After your dog gets comfortable with the harness and the leash, the next task is to make him move with you. Start by taking smaller steps in the forward direction and notice if your dog moves with you. If your dog does it correctly, cuddle him with a treat in a standing position.
You should only try one direction to train your dog for leash walk first. Then start moving in random directions to see if your dog follows you or not. You can try moving in the room in forward and reverse directions while holding the leash. If your dog follows your lead movements, it's time to give him a tasty treat.
Keep Your Dog Focused on One Side
While doing the previous step, you should stay on one side of the dog only. Feed him with treats on that side so he knows he should stay on this side. Additionally, start offering treats at less frequency than you do at the start of the leash training session.
You can do that by treating him less frequently on the number of steps you take. For instance, if you fed him with a treat for one forward step, feed him after two to four steps next time. Randomizing the frequency of treats will keep him focused on achieving his reward after obeying.
Practice the Leash Training Outside
If your dog starts obeying and following your lead inside the house, make him do that in the outside world. I don’t recommend going on the street rather do that in your backyard. A few outside distractions are important to teach your dog about ignoring them while on a leash.
Keep reinforcing the same pattern outside by offering him treats and taking baby steps. Try to walk a longer distance and then stop to see if your dog stops with your motion. If he does that correctly, give another treat and gradually increase the walking distance.
Walk Your Dog in a Park or Neighborhood
For your dog to be better at on-leash walks, the next step is to move from your backyard to the outside world. Keep doing the ‘mark & reinforce’ pattern of training using treats and allow your dog to explore its surroundings.
Repeat the same patterns by taking your dog on long walks such as in a nearby dog park. If you keep repeating the same leash training strategy every day, your dog will start following it without treats.
With small baby steps in the leash training process, your furry pooch will soon recognize your commands. You might face hurdles in the training process which we will discuss in the next section.
Common Problems During Dog Leash Training
Excessive Random Leash Pulling
During leash training outside, your dog will get distracted by many things that encourage him to ignore your commands. That can be anything from another dog to a smelly bush or a tree. If your dog starts pulling on the leash in the opposite direction, stay still and don’t move.
It is important not to pull or jerk the leash when your dog shows leash-pulling behavior. Be very still to make your dog realize you don’t want to go in his direction. Your dog will understand that after some time and ignore that specific distraction altogether.
Abrupt Jumping & Lunging
Lunging & jumping on a leash can arise from several outside factors such as another dog or attentive noise around the dog. Sometimes, a dog may not like the leash and start jumping to pull it off.
If your dog shows lunging behavior, stay still and immediately offer him a treat. Be very attentive in knowing the cause of his proactive behavior. Giving him a treat and making him stay away from the distraction will keep him focused on you rather than jumping to go near that.
Following the step-by-step process through reinforcing and treating will gradually train your dog to walk on a leash. Remember to stay consistent in leash training to reduce the frequency of problems during the training process.
Leash training a dog takes time and consistency and I know you can do that as an avid dog lover. To make him enjoy his outside walks and adventures, follow the stepwise leash training process and you’ll see your dog walk like a charm on-leash outside.