Training a Dog to Walk on a Leash

Don’t Let Your Dog Pull

One reason dogs pull when walking on a leash is because they have already discovered that pulling works. When they pull to get from spot A to spot B and achieve their desired result, it becomes a habit that they will repeat over and over again. I commonly see dog owners allowing their dogs to pull, but the goal should typically be to always have some slack in the leash. In other words, don’t let your dog walk you, you should be walking your dog! The toughest part of leash training is getting through the distractions (e.g., bunnies, squirrels, other dogs), but with patience and persistence you can train your dog properly and be on your way to making your walks a more enjoyable experience for both of you.

Simple, Effective Steps for Training Your Dog to Walk on a Leash

  • Make sure you don’t let the leash out too long. Your dog should be at your side with no room to roam.
    It doesn’t matter which side of your body you choose to walk your dog on (left side or right side) but be consistent by choosing the same side each time.
  • State a command such as, “let’s go”, and begin to walk with your dog. Your dog should walk on the side of you, not in front of you, or behind you.
  • When your dog begins to pull, give the leash a slight jerk, pulling your dog toward you, and begin walking in the opposite direction of the way he pulled you. A slight, but sharp, jerk of the leash is all it should take, do not over- pull. Continue doing this for each time your dog pulls.
  • For some dogs, it may work best to stop walking every time your dog pulls. If you choose this method, immediately stop walking and do not proceed to walk again until the pulling has completely stopped. Then, state the command, “let’s go”, to signal that the walk should begin, and start walking again. This will teach him that he will not get to go where he wants until he stops pulling.
  • If your dog begins pulling toward something that excites him, such as another animal, say, “No!”, in a firm voice, give the leash a sharp jerk, and proceed with all of the steps as stated above. Whenever you say, “No” and your dog listens, praise him with words or a favorite treat.
  • If, while walking, your dog leaves his place by your side, re-set the position by walking in a large circle while pulling and guiding your dog back to the correct position.

After continually repeating this process your dog should begin to understand what is expected of him and you will be on your way to enjoying a lifetime of pleasurable walks.

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