Obedience — 02 December 2013
Beginner’s Guide to Leash Training Your Dog

It doesn’t matter if your dog is large or small. It doesn’t matter if you live in a suburban or rural area. One of the initial obedience training lessons should include leash training. Even if you live in a rural area or have a fenced in backyard, you and your dog should be able to walk on leash without him pulling and you cursing. Not only is it important when you need to take your pooch to the vet, where leashes are usually mandatory, but it is a good lesson for both you and your dog about who is in charge in the relationship.

Leash training should be started as soon as possible. Teaching your puppy how to walk on a leash will be a bit easier than teaching your hundred pound dog, if only on your arm and shoulder. Before walking your dog, always inspect your leashes for tears and make sure that they are strong enough for the weight of your dog. These simple guidelines will make leash training a little easier than just setting out with a rope and a prayer:

1. Start with a short lead

Beginner's Guide to Leash Training Your Dog

When you first attach a lead to your dog’s collar and start walking, keep the distance between your hand and his neck as short as possible. This will make him more aware of your movement and realize that he’s not just outside to run around. It also gives him less room to gain momentum if he decides to run. If the leash is six feet long and your medium to large dog bolts, you are risking injury – both of your shoulder and the chance of him dragging you behind him.

2. When he pulls, You stop

By keeping him close to you he shouldn’t have too much room to pull, but if you feel him straining against the leash, stop walking until he stops as well. When he realizes that he cannot move again until you do, he should calm down and wait. Reward him and continue walking.

3. Always Reward Good Behavior

Beginner's Guide to Leash Training Your Dog

When your dog begins to understand that when you stop walking, he needs to stop as well, reward his good behavior with treats and/or verbal praise.  Praise him when he learns to keep your pace and is paying attention to your commands and movements as well.

4. Never Stop Training

If you don’t often go for walks with your dog on a leash, he will likely forget good leash behavior. Even if you have no need for him to be leash trained except when you go the veterinarian once a year, walking your dog on the leash on a regular basis will keep the training fresh in his mind.

What other tips would you give for those new to leash training their dog?

Photo credits: Thinkstock

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Marie Bieber

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