Although it sounds like one of the simplest of tasks, getting a dog to walk nicely on a leash can actually be quite a challenge. In some cases, a dog will require a vigorous amount of training and teaching so that they begin to walk calmly by your side and this should be of the utmost importance and something you should stay focused on. Here are a few tips to ensure that every outing is enjoyable for both you and your canine companion and Click here for the best training collar.
The Standing Technique
Start your walk off by standing still and quiet and giving your companion the full length of his lead. The lead should be held loosely across your body. Do not move forward until you have your dog’s full attention. As soon as your dog stops and pays you attention, reward him with a treat. After this, you can then move froward. Be sure to use your voice and treats throughout the whole walk, as this will prompt your dog to remain close. When the lead is loose and your dog remains close, reward this behavior with a treat.
However, if your dog moves too far away from you, stop and be still and quiet until he notices that you have stopped and returns. Reward this behavior each and every time and if required use a keyword when your dog is close to you, ensuring you have a loose leash. A good example of a keyword could be “close” as this is probably not used often when in the presence of your dog. Practice this technique in short and regular sessions, as this will prevent you and your dog from becoming frustrated.
Using the walk off method
Attach your dog lead to a collar or harness. Call your dog’s name and briskly walk forward in a straight line and don’t look back. If your dog catches up with you and stays by your side, reward him or her and reinforce a ‘walk by your side’ keyword or phrase – this could be something like “close”, followed by “good boy.”
If your dog does not follow, slow down and briefly say your dog’s name to get its attention once more. You can then use your chosen command to get the dog close to you and if it walks nicely by your side, reward him.
Once you have mastered walking in a straight line, mix it up a bit by walking and zig-zagging from left to right. This adds variety but will also reinforce the concept that your dog should be walking by your side all the times. Be patient and practice these techniques until your dog is walking nicely on the lead and is always alongside you with a loose leash.
If you come across something that distracts your dog or makes it cower away, get its attention and move it away from the distraction. Get your dog to look at you once more (possibly with a command such as “watch”) and then praise and reward him as you see fit.
If you think that your dog is up to the task of walking past the distraction, walk back through some familiar territory first and then turn around and aim to pass through the distraction again. As you do so, use a calm, reassuring voice and reward your dog until you are past that area.
How To Use Walking Aids
There are various walking aids you can use to improve your dog’s walking behavior, especially if they are excited and they pull a lot on the lead. Purchasing the wrong walking aids can set you up for failure before you have even begun. There are so many different leash, collar and harness combinations to choose from that it can be hard to know if you’re selecting the right one.
Just like humans when we buy shoes, one size does not fitt all and the same principle applies to your dog. First of all, take a look at the size, body shape and breed of your dog and choose products that will make the walk comfortable for both you and your dog. These can include materials with extra padding, wider surface areas and even contain shock absorbing properties.
Using a no pull harness
Many dog walking products like no pull harnesses are becoming increasingly popular and due to their clever design, it’s no surprise. The harness is designed to reduce the pulling action caused by a dog and in many cases can be a valuable training aid. If you have a dog with little or no fur, a full padded harness could be the answer. This would fasten around the chest and front torso of the dog and would provide additional support.
If your dog does not pull excessively then a standard harness should do the job just as well. Ensuring that your dog is comfortable with their walking aids will set you off on the best start and make the training experience a lot more pleasurable for both of you.
Attaching a double ended training lead
A double ended dog lead is also a great aid when used with a no pull harness. This style of lead has a clip attached at both ends enabling you to attach one end to the ring on the top of the harness and the other end to the ring on the front. The dog’s front legs should not rub on the front straps and when fitted and tightened, the harness should be firm and stay in place.
Choosing a harness that has two attachment points will be an added and convenient benefit to your training experience. The first fastening is located in the common position just behind the dogs shoulders where most braking control is gained. When you apply counteracting force, this enables you to bring your dog to a halt or to simply slow it down, the same way a standard lead and collar would.
However, the other fastening on a no pull harness is located on the front around the dog’s chest. This second fastening gives you maximum control with very little force. With a very light tug on the front part of the lead your dog will steer from left to right and it will know you are the one in control during the walk. When used with the appropriate voice commands a no pull harness can help you to control your dog and bring it close to your side.
Consistency Is Key
Before every walk, instruct your dog to sit before you place them in any walking aids. This will help to contain their excitement and show them who is in control during the walk. Avoid trigger words that will excite your dog, such as “walkies”.
Enforce all of these tips every time you leave the house to prevent your dog from becoming confused. Offering plenty of praise and encouragement and having a lot of patience is vital. But just remember you are not alone, and we’ve all been there with our dogs. With patience, consistency and the correct tools, you’ll give yourself the very best start with training your furry friend.
Andrew Long is a blogger, writer and advises dog owners on the best dog walking devices to use via his business at Wiggles and Wags.