Try putting yourself in your dog’s shoes – with all the intriguing distractions left and right, who could resist the temptation of stopping to sniff or tugging a leash to get there fast? The absence of basic leash manners can be prescribed to curiosity as a natural behavior in dogs.
The problem is, this kind of curiosity can actually be dangerous for your pup.
Leash manners are not being taught to eliminate the owner’s frustration. More than anything else, they are crucial in a busy environment that includes cars and other animals. With so many dangers lurking around, you wouldn’t want to keep your dog on a long leash.
Luckily, training a dog to walk right next to you isn’t so hard.
Getting Ready for Your Dog’s Leash Training Sessions
There are several leash training techniques you can try with your dog.
Unless you’re dealing with a particularly playful pup or a breed that tends to pull more, it’s hardly unlikely that you are going to make a wrong choice. All of these techniques are equally effective for training a well-behaved dog. The only thing you need is patience and treats:
In fact, here’s a full list of things to get you ready:
Does your pup need a collar, a harness, or a halter?
Harnesses are typically recommended to pet owners who like to keep themselves and their furry friends active, given the fact that they help maintain full control without putting a strain on the dog’s neck. If you choose a harness, you need to make sure that it is a perfect fit.
Halters and head collars are designed for breeds that tend to pull, especially herding breeds. In any other situation, a well-fitted and comfortable collar will do the trick.
To maintain maximum control of your dog, choose a standard-length leash. Any regular standard-length leash should work perfectly for your energetic pup.
The longer it takes for your pup to learn basic commands, the more treats you’re going to need. Keep them healthy and be very careful not to exceed the recommended daily dose for the purposes of leash training. It’s better to stop for the day and continue when your pup is ready.
More than anything else, you’ll need time and patience. As a new pet owner, you need to understand that your pup’s wellbeing is your responsibility. Arm yourself with lots of patience, as if you are training a child.
Training Your Dog to Walk by Your Side in Five Easy Steps
1. Introduce the Collar in a Fun Way
First, let your dog wear your chosen collar for an extended period of time to get used to the feeling. It also helps if you do something fun with him – that way, the pup will associate collar time with games and toys with his favorite person. Then, start introducing side walking and give them treats when they walk with you.
2. Establish a Treat Cue to Use Later
For this, a lot of pet owners use the so-called click and treat technique, but you can develop your own approach. The important thing is to introduce some kind of a sound cue that your pup will associate with food. It will make him come to you immediately after he hears it.
3. Make Him Follow You a Few Paces
As your pup starts walking towards you upon hearing the sound cue, move a few steps further and let him walk by your side in expectation of a treat. Don’t let this exercise last for too long, though, at least not at first, but extend its duration for a couple of seconds every day.
4. Introduce a Distraction and Praise
When your dog learns to walk by your side for a few feet straight, you should gradually start replacing treats with praise, but also introducing distractions. As soon as he gets distracted, repeat the sound cue until he learns to avoid it and continue to walk by your side.
5. Test Your Pup’s New Skills Outside
Finally, put a leash on and take your dog on his first walk in the great outdoors. Repeat the training sessions you’ve established at home and gradually extend the duration of the walks. There will be many distractions, so prepare a lot of treats to avoid lunging and barking.
And if your dog starts to pull, just stand very still until he comes back to you.
Have a nice walk, everyone! For any additional dog walking assistance, be sure to contact Cruisin’ Canines!