Tools to Help with Leash Training
Spring is in the air, and more people are hitting the pavement with their dogs to enjoy it. But nothing derails an afternoon walk like a dog dragging you down the street and refusing to listen. When it comes to leash training, it’s important to remember that it takes patience, time, and consistency to teach your dog new things.
To start off on the right paw, begin working with your dog indoors in a quiet environment with few distractions. As they grow comfortable with the idea of walking beside you on a leash, gradually increase their distractions by taking them into your back or front yard, and then eventually into the neighborhood. It’s easier to build good leash manners one step at a time than plunging into the deep end and wondering why your dog isn’t responding in a noisy or distracting environment.
And, remember, before you’re ready to get to work, make sure your dog has burned any excess energy by having a good romp or game of fetch. The more pent up energy your dog has, the more likely they’ll be ready to take off running as soon as your walk begins!
Harnesses and Halters
To set the stage for a good walk, make sure you have the right gear. Popular options for comfortable walking include body harnesses where your leash attaches to your dog’s chest, back, or both, and halter varieties that go over their head, like the Gentle Leader. Both harnesses and halters use different approaches that control your dog’s body to help guide their walking. If you have a harness that attaches to their chest, for example, it draws your dog to one side when they start to pull. When you use a halter, you have control of their head. There are several advantages and drawbacks to each kind of harness and halter, so we recommend talking with your vet or dog trainer to get additional guidance on the best option for your dog.
The “Stop and Hold” Technique
A popular strategy for correcting pulling is the “Stop and Hold” technique. Basically, the minute your dog starts to pull, stop walking and refuse to move until they come back to you or let up the tension on the leash. An important aspect of this approach is not pulling or yanking on your dog to get them to stop pulling because that can encourage them to pull even harder. Instead, the minute they pull, stop and wait patiently in place until you see the behavior you’re looking for. Many dogs respond quickly to the stop and hold technique because they realize that the fun stops as soon as they pull on the leash! Don’t forget to reward them enthusiastically during this exercise with praise, a favorite toy, or some healthy treats to help keep them engaged and having fun.
If you’re a new dog parent or looking for additional support, nothing beats working with a professional dog trainer. These experts have extensive experience training a wide range of dogs and dealing with challenging behaviors. This enables them to provide personalized tips and proven methods based on you and your dog to help you achieve success. You can also sign up for different types of training approaches, including one-on-one sessions, group classes, and in-home assessments. You can even opt for training sessions where your trainer works directly with your dog and then teaches you how to maintain their new behaviors. We offer a wide range of dog training classes at Wagging Tails, so contact us to see which one is best for you and your dog.
While there are several different approaches to working on loose leash walking, each type of dog can offer its own unique challenges. A herder could compulsively nip at your heels to keep you moving while a terrier could end up overstimulated by their surroundings. Patience and consistency are always key, but, if you are continuing to struggle with loose leash walking, be sure to discuss your concerns with your vet or our on-site dog training expert.