Does pure chaos ensue every time you put your dog on a leash? Lunging, pulling, and other dramatic displays can quickly suck the joy out of walking your dog, leaving you wondering just what to do. Thankfully, you can start fresh and teach your dog how to behave on the leash, so every walk becomes a treat for all involved. Ready to get started? Here’s how to make it happen.
Get All the Right Gear
A truly successful walk starts with all the right gear, such as:
For particularly stubborn dogs, you may need to use a martingale, prong, or choke training collar, but just start with a harness to see how it goes.
To get set up for your training sessions, put treats in the bag and clip an ID tag on the reflective collar. Then, you’ll just need to gear up your dog with their collar and harness, and then clip the leash to the front ring on the harness.
Start Small for Big Success
The biggest mistake dog owners make in training their pups is going too big, too fast. So, you’ll want to start small by walking your dog right down the hallway in your home. The idea is to work in a spot without any distractions or space to move away from your side. With that move, your dog won’t have any reason to pull and will get their positioning right from the start.
To begin your training session:
- Have your dog sit on your right side, lined up with the outer seam on your pants
- Make sure that you’re holding the end of the leash in your left hand and put your right hand on the center of the leash while keeping it loose
- Release your dog from their sitting position by saying, “Heel,” and stepping off with your right foot
- Slowly meter out the treats one by one to help your dog stay in the correct position by your side
- Walk to the end of the hall, turn around, and then stop walking while telling your dog to sit
At this point, you’ll want to stop and give them a jackpot of three to five treats one after another for a job well done. Repeat this process while slowly decreasing the number of treats you give out. Eventually, you won’t have to give any treats, although it’s great to roll them out on occasion for that intermittent reinforcement boost.
Gradually Add Distractions
Once your dog is staying by your side without guidance and sitting right when you stop walking, start introducing small distractions. To do that, simply move your training exercises out into the yard or a quiet park. The smells in the air, birds tweeting in the trees, and open space all around is plenty enough distractions at first. As your dog progresses with their training, slowly increase the distractions by choosing busier and busier environments.
Once your dog can walk on the leash without pulling, go on your first walk around the block. If they become quite reactive, then dial it back by going to a quiet place to train a bit more. Over time, your dog will learn that explorations require good behavior and will stick by your side.