Updated: Jun 21
We've had a lot of clients voicing their concerns over leash training recently. While on the surface it looks like an easy thing to teach, leash training can be very difficult - especially if your dog loves to pull!
Read on for our top tips on leash training.
Many dogs absolutely love walks - to the point they become extremely excitable and difficult to control. While it's important they enjoy their walks, it's also important that they are calm. This starts before the walk, back at the house. When you're putting on their leash, make sure they are sitting calmly. Stay calm yourself, as your dog will react to your energy. Don't leave the house until they are calm and controllable. This may take a while, and lots of patience on your part - but persevere. It's perfectly OK that they're excited as long as they still follow commands and don't pull on the leash.
Use the Right Lead.
Many people use their dog's collar as the attachment point for their leash, but this can result in choking and damage to the dog's throat, especially if they pull with force. Using a leash that connects to a harness is a much safer and easier way to not only protect your dog, but have control as you walk.
Holding the Leash Correctly.
Are you holding your leash with one hand and struggling to gain control? Try the cross-body technique. Hold the leash with your left hand, and allow the lead to cross over your body. Gently hold the leash with the right hand. This simple alteration should help your dog to walk more closely to you, and give you more control at the same time. The goal here is to be able to hold the leash with only one finger - your dog should never be pulling.
With larger or stronger dogs, you should use a rope lead (at least to begin with), not a retractable lead as these aren't as strong.
Use An Off-Centre Harness
Are you really struggling to keep control of your dog? Are they pulling you to the point you're almost falling over? Are they really strong? Try an off-centre harness. The attachment point for the leash is on the front of the harness. This means that, when the dog pulls, it can't pull forward because the leash's position makes it off-balance.
Try a Nose Attachment
If you're really struggling, a nose leash attachment may help. Similar to the off-centre harness, these help prevent the dog from pulling. They slip over the dog's mouth without preventing them from panting, barking, eating or drinking. When a dog tries to pull forward, it finds itself pulled to the side instead.
Don't Allow Them to Pull
Easier said than done, but this sort of behaviour needs to be nipped in the bud while they are young as pulling can be dangerous and make walks extremely unenjoyable.
If your dog is pulling, try immediately walking a few steps in the other direction. This basically teaches the dog that pulling doesn't get them where they want to be any faster - in fact, the opposite happens.
Is Your Dog Distracted On Walks? Regain Their Focus.
If your dog is extremely excitable on walks, you need to know how to regain their focus. It's a great idea to have a walk-only "high value" toy that your dog is only allowed to play with when on walks. Use this toy to help regain their attention if they are distracted by passing bikes, squirrels or other dogs. Combine this with the "watch me" command to really help get their attention.
Every walk is an opportunity to reinforce what you are trying to teach them. If your household has more than one owner (and therefore dog walker), it's really important you're all on the same page and are teaching the dog the same thing on each walk.
Leash training is not an overnight lesson - it needs to be taught over and over until the dog understands. This can take many months. Which leads us onto our next point...
Patience is the key! Don't get angry or upset with your dog. Stay calm, persevere and you'll soon find your dog walking to heel.
Are you struggling with leash training? Get in touch now!