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Leash Training Your Dog

The natural instincts of dogs does not include them being restrained to walk on a leash. Teaching your dog to walk on a leash can be a challenge, because they are very active and don’t want to be restrained. They want to be able to run free and explore their surroundings.

There are several important things to consider when you are training your dog to walk on a leash. You must consider his temperament and how to pace him. Show him that you are calm, confident, patient and consistent and take it very slow so he will understand the concept. Your dog will find this experience to be happy, fun and a special bonding time that you and your dog will look forward to every day.

Introducing your dog to a leash for the first time should not intimidate him. Attach the leash to his collar and let him run around the house pulling it behind him for a few minutes until he understands that it won’t hurt him. Be cautious that the leash doesn’t get caught on anything. Play with your dog with a toy and have him bring it to you and give him a treat. Do this a few times and then pick up the leash and gently call him to come over to you and again reward him with a treat. Then he will feel confident and relaxed and the leash will not be a threat to him.

When you are ready to take your dog for a walk, go to the door and get the leash. Call your dog over to you and if he starts to jump up, spins around, races, barks or whines, stand still and wait for your dog to calm down. Once he stops and is standing on all paws reach slowly towards your dogs collar and try to attach the leash. If he bounces or jumps on you immediately bring your hands and the leash close to your body. If this behavior continues keep repeating these training steps until your dog remains still in front of you. If you keep at this training diligently it will definitely pay off and you and your dog will enjoy your daily walks.

Once you start to walk with your dog teach him not to pull by standing still and waiting which is referred to as “red light.” When he puts slack in the leash and he turns to look at you, call him to come over to you. Tell him to sit and give him a treat as you tell him “Yes” then continue to walk, this is called “green light.” As you are walking your dog may look up at you expecting more treats, give him another one and say “Yes.” If he pulls again repeat the “red light” step. Reward your dog several times for looking at you or staying slightly ahead or staying next to you. Your dog will learn that if he looks at you or stays near you he will get treats and if he pulls on the leash he will not get to continue walking and has to come to you and sit.

If your dog pulls towards an object to sniff or eliminate, use the “Red Light” training. Do not reward him with a treat when he comes to you and sits, use the object as the reward saying “Yes” and let him go to the object and follow him so he can reach it without pulling. Remember to always Praise your dog and reward him with treats as he walks with slack in the leash.

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Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.