It’s National Walk Your Dog Week! So we’re turning it over to Zak George to help you with leash training your favorite pup.
Leash pulling is one of the most common complaints dog owners have. If we think about how dogs are bred, we begin to understand why many dogs pull at the leash. Many dogs are bred specifically to have great stamina for hunting, tracking, traveling, and retrieving. When we ask our dogs to walk at our pace, which is slower than their natural pace, we are asking them to ignore hundreds of years of selective breeding. Luckily, dogs are bred to listen to humans above all other traits. This means, that with some patience, commitment, and love for your dog, leash training will be a breeze.
The most important first step to leash training is getting your dog’s excess energy out before you start training. If you’ve read my other blog posts, you’ll know that I urge you to do this before every training session. If you need to take a step back and teach your dog to play fetch to help get that energy out, check out my Fetch blog post. Once your dog got some energy out, you can really begin training. However, be sure that this is a leash training session, not a potty training session with some leash training mixed in. Leash training should be the only you work on here. If you want to find some awesome leashes, check out this blog post for the perfect leash training products.
Indoor Leash Training
When you first start leash training you want to minimize the distraction so begin inside your house. Start walking with your dog on the leash. As soon as you think your dog is going to speed up, quickly change direction and ask your dog to look at you. As the lesson continues, keep asking your dog to look at you and reward her each time she makes eye contact. Once your dog reliably looks at you while inside and can walk for a longer period of time without pulling, you can take this lesson outside.
Take Leash Training Outside
Your dog is undeniably going to be distracted as soon as you step outside. So, remember to get some energy out and give your dog some time to explore. You’ll want to stay close to your house, maybe begin by staying in your yard and progress to the street. Once you begin walking, reward your dog heavily whenever leash pulling isn’t happening. Rewards don’t always have to be treats. Some dogs are so high energy that a reward can be a tug toy. Choose whatever your dog loves more and be sure to let your dog know how impressed and proud you are during leash training.
Right before or as soon as your dog starts to pull ahead, stop and say, “No” to tell your dog that when the leash pulls we have to stop. Then, quickly change directions and get your dog’s attention back on you. You can do this by being super animated and using a reward to get your dog to look at you. In time, your dog may periodically glance at before you even try to get your dog’s attention. When this happens, reward super heavily – your dog just did exactly what you wanted, without being asked! You’re now ready to take this training out in the real world!
What To Do When Your Dog is Distracted
Remember to be patient, there’s a million new things your dog wants to check out. If your dog is distracted and you can’t the attention back on you. You need to stop, turn around, and have your dog walk back 10 feet or more until you can get your dog to sit. Once your dog focuses on you, begin the routine over again. Don’t be discouraged if this takes multiple tries and you only get a block down the street. Over time, with consistent training, your dog will learn to overcome the natural instincts to walk quickly. There’s no better time than National Walk Your Dog Week to start training!
If you’d like to walk your dog off-leash during National Walk Your Dog Week, check out my “come” blog post before you go for an off-leash adventure!
Check out my videos about leash pulling, here!