Training my dog Harley to walk on a leash was a challenging but rewarding experience. Walking on a leash allows Harley to exercise, explore his environment, and socialize with other dogs and people. But, leash training can present challenges, particularly if your dog is prone to distractions or has a tendency to pull on the leash.
Here are 7 tips and tricks that helped me train Harley to walk on a leash:
- Start Slow
- Use Positive Reinforcement
- Keep Training Sessions Short
- Be Consistent
- Use a Proper Leash and Collar
- Make it Fun
- Practice, Practice, Practice
When starting leash training with my dog Harley, I went at his pace and gradually introduced him to the leash. I allowed him to sniff and explore the leash, collar, and harness. Once Harley was comfortable wearing the leash, we practised to walk on a leash in the garden first before heading outdoors. Walking in the garden helped Harley become familiar with the leash’s feeling without distractions, making it easier to focus during outdoor training.
Use Positive Reinforcement
I found that using positive reinforcement was the most effective method for training Harley to walk on a leash. Whenever he walked calmly by my side without pulling, I praised him and rewarded him with a treat or toy. This encouraged him to continue walking correctly on the leash. Positive reinforcement helped Harley associate walking on a leash with positive experiences, making him more willing to comply with the training.
Keep Training Sessions Short
Training sessions can be quite tiring for both you and your pup. To keep Harley interested and prevent boredom or exhaustion, I kept our training sessions brief, typically lasting around 10-15 minutes at a time. This method helped Harley stay focused and eager during training, leading to more productive and successful sessions.
I made sure to use the same commands and expectations every time Harley and I went for a walk. I also rewarded Harley every time he walked correctly on the leash, which helped him understand what was expected of him. Consistency helped Harley learn the behaviour I wanted from him and made it easier for him to follow my commands.
Use a Proper Leash and Collar
Using the right leash and collar is important for training your dog to walk on a leash. I chose a standard flat collar that fit comfortably around Harley’s neck. I also made sure the leash was the appropriate length for our walks and easy to handle. Using a proper leash and collar ensured Harley’s safety and comfort during training and made it easier for me to control him during walks. Here are a few options:
- Flat collars are a popular choice and suitable for dogs that don’t pull heavily on the leash. A properly fitted flat collar allows you to slip two fingers under the collar (perpendicular to the dog’s neck).
- Martingale/Check collars can help prevent your dog from slipping out if he or she is a bit of an escape artist. A martingale/check collar should be adjusted to fit so that when the collar’s cinch is fully tightened, the collar fits snugly around your dog’s neck.
- Harnesses can distribute the pressure more evenly across their body if your dog tends to pull a lot, helping protect their neck/throat from excessive pressure. A proper harness fit should be snug but never pinch. You should be able to fit two fingers between your dog and the harness at any point.
Make it fun!
Keep things exciting by mixing it up a bit and giving your pup some new sniffs to explore! Here are some ideas:
- Change up your route: Harley loved exploring different routes each time we went for a walk. This will keep things fresh and exciting for them.
- Play games: Harley’s favourite games were fetch or hide-and-seek during our walks. This will give your dog some extra exercise and mental stimulation. Both these activities should be done in a safe area.
- Socialize: Why not ask a friend or family member to come along with their bestie for a joint walk? Harley was always excited when my brother would bring his dog Logan over for walks and play dates. By introducing your dog to other dogs on your walks, your pup can have the opportunity to socialize and expand their social circle.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The more Harley and I practiced to walk on a leash, the better he became at it. I took him for daily walks and gradually increased the distance and difficulty of our walks. We also practiced walking in different environments to help him become more comfortable walking around distractions. Consistent practice helped Harley become more confident and reliable when walking on the leash.
To sum up, teaching your furry companion to walk on a leash is a crucial ability that demands patience, perseverance, and encouraging incentives. Starting slow, using positive reinforcement, keeping training sessions short, maintaining consistency, using a proper leash and collar, and practicing regularly can help make leash training a positive and enjoyable experience for you and your pup, just like it did for my dog Harley and me.