Have you recently added a new family member — who happens to have four paws, fur, and a bark?
If so, welcome to the family! You’ve joined over 43 million other households that own dogs as well!
Now that you have your new puppy, it’s time to teach them some manners. Leash training is essential — if your dog won’t obey you on a leash, they’ll have a hard time obeying you anywhere else.
Ready to learn how to leash train a dog? Here are some ways to help your dog understand that you’re in charge so they stop pulling when you take them out for a walk.
Why Walks Are So Challenging for Dogs
From your human perspective, you might think a walk is a simple thing. You put on the collar and leash, go around the block, and voila! You’re done.
But from your dog’s perspective, it’s very different. First, a walk may be one of the most exciting things that happen in their day.
Remember, you can come and go as you want. Your dog has to wait for permission to leave the house. When they finally get to, they’re very excited!
Secondly, dogs are incredibly perceptive.
They have an unbelievable sense of smell. Their noses contain 300 million olfactory receptors, where we only have six million. And the portion of their brain dedicated to decoding smells is 40 times larger than ours.
Imagine if, instead of being able to see everything within 1/3 of a mile, you could see everything within 3,000 miles? How incredible and distracting would that be? That’s your dog every time they step outside.
So be patient when leash training a dog. They’re taking in an enormous amount of information every time they go for a walk, and it’s hard for them to pay attention to you instead of all the other activities nearby.
Introduce the Collar and Leash Inside
Many people start leash training a puppy. Young dogs aren’t used to having a collar and leash, so you should get them used to wearing it before you go on a walk. Put it on inside so they can adjust to how it feels.
When working on puppies’ leash training, you can also take short walks inside to help them acclimate. They can practice commands and listening to you before they encounter the distractions that are available outside. Your living room, for instance, is a nice, small space to start with.
Looking for a good dog collar and lead combination? You can find out more here.
How to Leash Train a Dog: Start With Sit
As you look at how to train a dog to walk on a leash, it’s important to teach the pup to sit on command. This will help you keep control in case the dog gets over-excited.
You can practice sitting indoors, but the real test will be outside. That’s when there are dozens of sights, sounds, and smells that attract your pups attention.
Once you have sit down, practice it frequently during the walk. For instance, have your dog sit when greeting new people, or when you’re getting ready to cross a street.
Learning to sit frequently during a walk will help the dog keep their excitement under control.
Combine a Voice Command with Another Cue
Combining multiple cues when training your dog can reinforce the command. For instance, follow the instruction with a sound, or a hand signal. When they obey you, reward them with a treat.
Make sure you’re consistent with your signals. You want your dog to know that a specific signal and command mean you want a specific response. If you’re not consistent, you’ll just confuse the pup.
The instructions you want to work on are: sit, stay, come, and heel. Teach and practice these indoors first.
Practice in the Yard
Once you have the four commands under control in the house, it’s time to move to an outdoor environment — but a smaller one. If you have a fenced backyard, that’s the best option. If you don’t, determine what part of your yard has the fewest distractions.
With the collar and leash, you can practice the sit, stay, come, and heel commands in the yard. This environment is a great starter for a walk since it contains so many of the same stimuli.
Many people use treats for reinforcement while training. You’ll want to choose the rewards wisely so that your dog doesn’t get unhealthy over time.
Also, keep in mind that you don’t want your dog begging for treats with every step. Instead, train them to expect a treat when they get home after a good walk.
Take Short Walks That Gradually Get Longer
Unfortunately, many pet parents think that the only reason for a walk is to get the dog to go to the bathroom. Once that’s done, the walk is over and it’s time to go home.
That isn’t really fair to your pet. Your dog wants to experience all the sights and smells of the outside world, and a walk is their primary opportunity. Be sure to take walks that give your pup great exercise as well as the chance to explore.
If you immediately end the walk when the dog goes to the bathroom, they may start delaying that need, which can cause problems as well.
Instead, start with short walks that get longer as they continue to behave well. It’s good for your dog and it’s great for your health as well!
Consider Practicing at a Dog Park
Is your dog doing well on a lead during walks? Fantastic! You’ve successfully learned how to leash train a dog.
However, if you want to work on additional obedience challenges, consider working on sit, stay, come, and heel at a dog park.
Having many other dogs around is an additional distraction for your pup. While they certainly should run and play and make friends, training them to obey you in that environment is an extra bonus.
The more you work with your pup, the more well-behaved they will be in a variety of distracting situations, which is very helpful if unexpected events happen when you’re out.
Having a well-trained new dog brings a lot of joy to your life. Interested in other ways to enjoy life? Check out our happiness articles today!