Leash training is an important aspect of general puppy training and is vital if you want to avoid a game of tug-o-war every time you go for a walk. You also want to ensure your dog has good manners and respects your position in the pecking order.
So how do you teach a dog to walk calmly and politely on the lead?
Depending on how willing your dog is to learn and how patient and persistent you are in your training, your dog should get to grips with the process fairly quickly. The important thing is to be consistent and not slip back into old habits if you normally allow your dog to pull.
- First and foremost, you need to stop following your dog when he pulls. Stop walking and keep a firm hold on the lead. If you find your dog is too strong for you, switch from a collar to a harness as this will give you greater control.
- You might also consider a head halter with a front attachment, as your dog will quickly learn he needs to walk alongside you to walk comfortably and in a straight line.
- Find somewhere quiet and free from distractions to start your training.
- Position your dog to your left-hand side and ask him to sit.
- Hold out a treat to gain your dog’s full attention and step forward, saying ‘heel’.
- If your dog dashes ahead or pulls on the lead, turn back around and start again. Repeat this process until your dog walks in line with your leg.
- When he does, remember to say ‘heel’ and reward your dog with a treat and/or praise. Your dog will quickly associate what he’s doing with your vocal command and the reward he’s being given.
- The better your dog gets at it, extend the walking time before rewarding him. If at any point your dog reverts to pulling on the lead, return to your starting position.
Over time your dog will come to realise that tearing ahead and dragging you along behind him is not the correct way to walk. Instead he will walk calmly beside you and await your guidance and direction, making for a much more enjoyable time.
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Written by: Hannah Dyball