For those of you who dread the daily walk around the block, have no fear. Dogs can learn walking techniques at any age. With consistent practice, positive reinforcement, and a handful of treats or two, your dog will be a master at leash walking in no time.
We understand that it can be challenging and tiring but ultimately rewarding. By learning some simple leash-walking techniques, you’ll do both yourself and your pup a huge favor.
Loose Leash Training in Eight Steps
- Get fitted: You’ll need a proper harness and leash for walks. Harnesses are designed to safely prevent your dog from pulling. Harnesses come in all sizes and are generally a better alternative to pinch or prong collars.
- Clicker training: Clicker training is popular amongst dog trainers for reinforcing positive behavior. Clickers provide instant feedback and recognition of good behavior and are used to teach your dog manners, techniques, and communication.
- Get your energy right Dogs pick up on your energetic cues. Be calm, cool, and confident before you head out the door. If your dog is too hyped to go outside, try tiring them out with a few minutes of play before you leave.
- Keep your dog at your side: Loop your hand through the end of the leash so it’s secured around your wrist. Chose which side you would like your dog to walk and make sure you stay consistent. So if you chose the left side, make sure your dog is always walked on the left side. Eventually, your dog will immediately fall in line to that side.
- Keep treats handy: You’ll want to get bite-size treats used specifically for walks in order to keep your dog’s interest. Keeping the treat right at your hip will direct your dog’s attention to that area, making them more likely to stay by your side. Be generous with the treats when starting out. As your dog gets the routine down, you’ll use the treats more sparingly.
- Use commands sparingly and intentionally: It’s important to use direct, concise language when giving commandments. Use two-three word phrases starting with your dog’s name and followed by a short commandment. For example, saying “Brecken, no jumping” or “Brecken, sit” is way more effective than saying “No, bad boy, you stop that” etc. Your dog will pick up on short, simple language much faster!
- Make your dog sit and stay: If your dog lunges at certain things, whether it’s skateboards, squirrels, or Subarus, you can curb this behavior by commanding them to “sit-stay” or “look”. Look is a command which rewards dogs for looking at you. While sit-stay is a command that keeps them in a resting position. The more you practice “sit-stay” and “look,” the quicker your dog will respond in any situation.
- Use praise for good behavior: Make sure your dog knows when they’re doing a good job! When your dog heals and you give them a treat, say “yes” in a kind tone. Your dog will come to associate good behavior with rewards. Eventually, the once exceptional good behavior will become routine. Voila!
Leash Walking Workshop
Are you finding your dog needs some extra guidance in mastering the morning walk? Fitdog offers a loose leash training program to get dogs on the path to excellence. During this four-class workshop, our Trainer Rhonda teaches your dog positive walking behavior, which you can incorporate in your everyday life. Happy walking!