Dogs are amazing pals to be with, in a park especially when all you want to do is to enjoy the outdoors while bonding with your furry canine pal. But it is so often that we see unruly dogs that try to pull their owners to all sorts of different directions. In some cases, there are even dogs that don’t want to move at all and will force their owners to try to drag them through the entire park. So, how do you get your dog to walk nicely on a leash if you want a serene and productive afternoon with old Fido?
Walking your dog on a leash nicely and without any problems is actually easier than most people think. The important aspect here is to make sure that you train your dog for leash walking as early as possible while introducing its collar and leash as friendly objects it doesn’t have to fear.
While we may have made you think that teaching a dog how to walk with a leash is so easy and simple, there are still some pointers that you need to be able to learn more about if you don’t want to end up dragging or yanking your dog. Simply read on to find out more about how to spend a nice afternoon with your dog while it’s on its leash.
How do I get my dog to walk nicely on a leash?
It’s a lovely day and all you want to do is to spend some outdoor time with your pet dog. But because you don’t want your dog to just suddenly run around the neighborhood or the nearby park while exploring its environment, you have to make sure that you are spending the day with it while it is on a leash so that you’ll be able to prioritize your pet pal’s safety.
In some cases, however, dogs can get pretty unruly when they are on their leash. Some find it too restrictive, annoying, and uncomfortable to the point that they would end up trying to chew through their leash. And there will be dogs that might not mind wearing their collar and leash but would end up being too curious that they would run around the park while yanking you.
It’s quite normal for you to have those kinds of problems especially if your dog isn’t used to walking around on a leash. But you can actually make things easier for you and your canine pal by training it to walk nicely with you while it is on a leash so that you can both enjoy a nice afternoon together.
If you want to learn how to get your dog to walk nicely on a leash, here are the things you need to know:
Before you begin to learn more about how to get your dog to walk nicely on its leash, here are some of the things you need to know and get prepared first:
When you want to go on a walk with your dog while it is on its leash, what’s important to note first before anything else is to secure a collar and leash that are both appropriate for your dog. What that means is that you should choose a collar and a leash that fit your dog nicely without making it feel uncomfortable.
For the collar, it has to be one that is just right for your dog’s size. You have to make sure that there is enough room in the collar for the dog to not feel suffocated or choked by the collar. But also make sure that the collar isn’t too big that your dog can easily slip its head through it when it is trying to escape.
It is also important for you to take note that there are some dogs collars that might be irritating or uncomfortable to certain breeds of dogs. In that case, get to know your dog first or ask the local pet store to help you out when choosing a collar that is appropriate for your dog.
When it comes to choosing a leash, it is also important that you take note of how big your dog is. Leashes with smaller diameters are best for smaller dogs but the larger canine friends require thicker leashes so as to make sure they don’t end up snapping the leash when they get too excited. Chain leashes might be the most durable choices but they might look a bit too overwhelming at times.
- Prepare the treats
You can never forget about the fact that rewards will always form the most important part of any dog training session. That’s because training your dog requires positive reinforcement with a reward waiting for it at the end of good behavior. In this case, the best way to reward your dog is by giving it its favorite treats so that it will be truly motivated to do something good.
Always make sure that you are carrying enough treats because of how you cannot completely account for how many times you need to reward your dog while training it to walk nicely on a leash. It also depends on how long you will be training it. So, if you are planning on taking your dog out on an extra long walk, you might want to carry extra treats.
- Have a command for your dog’s good behavior
While treats are the most important part of positively reinforcing a dog’s good behavior, one of the things you will also be needing is a command or a marker that you can use whenever your dog does something good. It can be something as short as “good boy/girl” or you can simply say “yes!” in the most exciting way possible.
The reason why a command is needed whenever you want to train your dog to walk with a leash on is to make sure that you are showing how happy you are with your dog’s behavior. Dogs are creatures of empathy and are emotionally smart enough to detect the emotions you show towards them. So, whenever you are giving your dog a signal that you are happy with what it is doing, it will be prompted to continue on doing that sort of behavior or action.
Some basics that you need to remember
After you have completed your preliminary preparations before you start training your dog to walk with its leash on, there are also some basic tenets that you need to keep in mind. The actual training session requires you to be as knowledgeable and as prepared as possible if you want to succeed in teaching your dog how to walk nicely with its leash. In that regard, here are some of the basics that you need to remember:
- Patience is truly a virtue
In everything that you do in life, you have to be completely patient. There is no need for you to rush through things when you know for a fact that being patient is what will get the job done. In this case, being patient with your dog should be a basic tenet to remember if you want to succeed in teaching it how to walk nicely with a leash on.
Remember that your dog is a dog and is not a person. No matter how hard you try to speak to it, it will not understand your words. However, if you show any sort of frustration towards your dog, it will surely understand your emotions and will feel bad about itself. That’s why being patient with your furry pal is so important whenever you are training your dog regardless of what the purpose of the training is.
Being patient with the dog will also allow you and your pet to pace yourselves while you are teaching it. Always remember that even the smartest dogs don’t get to perfectly do any trick the first time it tries doing it. In this case, your dog won’t probably be able to completely understand the basics of leash training during the first day. That’s why you have to be patient with it and give it as long as it needs for your dog to get used to this type of training.
- Keep the training sessions short
Whenever you training your dog so that it will learn a new command or a new trick, you should always make sure that you keep the training sessions short at the start and try to work your way up from there. Dogs don’t have the attention span that we humans do. If you tend to make the sessions long at the start, anything more than ten minutes might turn out to be unproductive for you and your canine pal.
As such, try to start out with five to ten minutes of training for the first few days and then slowly work your way up from there. Even championship dogs that are taught advanced tricks don’t train for hours and hours on a daily basis. Instead, make sure that you shorten the sessions so that you can adjust to your dog’s attention span. Steadily increase the minutes when you feel like you are making progress.
- Consistency is the key
While it might be true that you should keep your training sessions with your dog short and productive, the key to making sure that your dog remembers its training is to be consistent with it. You might be training for only a few minutes on a daily basis but you should try to do it every single day so that it forms part of your dog’s routine.
Dogs are creatures of habit. As long as you remain consistent with certain activities, they will remember those activities as part of their daily routine. So, if you are consistent with training your dog how to walk nicely with a leash on, it will form a part of your dog’s usual habit and it will begin to be more responsive with the training.
When your dog is responsive to your efforts in training it, you will begin to see more progress and you will also notice how quickly it will learn how to walk with you while it is wearing its leash.
- Make sure that you are as calm as possible
One of the best ways of making sure that your dog is responsive to your efforts in leash training it is to create a calm environment around it. Don’t make it seem like leash training it is such a boring and frustrating chore that you have to do. Instead, approach it with an open and calm demeanor so that your dog will end up as enthusiastic as you are. Make it seem like it is a part of your regular bonding sessions together.
Again, dogs are animals with a strong sense of empathy. They are great at sensing your emotions and are also amazing at mirroring whatever demeanor you are showing towards it. If you are not approaching its training with a calm and enthusiastic demeanor, your dog will most likely end up unresponsive to your training efforts.
That said, it is important that you make sure that you don’t end up showing a frustrated and angry approach whenever you are training your dog. Otherwise, the session will end up as a failure and you may have to start all the way from square one the next day.
Teaching your dog to get used to its collar and leash
Now that you already know the basic requirements and fundamentals when you want to train your dog to walk nicely with its leash on, it is now time for you to begin the actual training part. The first part of the training is to teach your dog to get used to its collar and leash because it won’t ever become responsive to leash training if it isn’t used to wearing its collar and leash.
Putting on a collar on a dog that is about to wear a collar for the first time can be a bit difficult because it is completely normal for them to feel anxious and nervous. As such, there will be instances when dogs will throw temper tantrums and may even chew on the collar while you are still putting it on.
So, if you want to make it easier for you to have your dog wear its collar and leash so that leash training will be a lot simpler, here are the things you need to do:
- Distract the dog while you are putting the collar on. Try out different tactics that will get the dog’s attention while you are putting its collar on it. You can have it eat a snack or you can do it while you are both playing. Some people would use the peanut butter method by applying peanut butter on their foreheads so that the dog will be too distracted trying to lick the peanut butter off while the owner is putting the collar on it.
- Give your dog a reward after applying the collar on. When the dog realizes that there is something waiting for it at the end of the ordeal, it will be much more responsive to you when you try to put its collar on. Just give it a treat right after you fastened its collar.
- Make sure that the collar is not tightly fastened. The tighter the collar is, the more anxious the dog will feel because it will think that it is being restricted of its movements. As such, make sure that the collar isn’t too tight but not too loose. Just make sure that it is loose enough to the point that your dog won’t always feel it but not too loose to the point that it can easily slip its head through it.
After putting on your dog’s collar on it, it is now time for you to introduce its leash to it. Introducing the leash won’t be as difficult as putting the collar on but that doesn’t mean that dogs are totally receptive to their leash.
Some dogs can go crazy when you try to attach the leash on the collar because of how they will instantly feel a force tugging against its movements. In that case, when you put a leash on your dog the first time, don’t hold on to the leash and just simply drop it so that the dog can move around freely. It will begin to think that having a leash on isn’t as bad as it originally thought it was. And if you have to hold on to the leash, make sure that you are still giving your dog enough freedom so that it can still move around well.
Actual leash training
After your dog has adjusted to its collar and leash and has accepted them as things that are not harmful, the next step for you is to begin the actual leash training part. Follow these steps to make leash training a breeze:
- Allow your dog to come to you without holding onto the leash
Start out by letting your dog wear the collar and leash and just simply allow it to come to you without holding onto the other end of the leash. Call out your dog’s name or use a command word to prompt it to come closer to you. Give it a treat after it does so but make sure to also use a command that will make know that it did a good job. The purpose of this part of the training is to allow the dog to associate wearing a collar and leash and being responsive to your calls with a reward at the end of good behavior.
When you are at this early stage of the training, do this in the comforts of your backyard or inside your house where there aren’t a lot of distractions. This part might take a couple or so days but you will, later on, begin to notice that your dog will easily come to you with just a simple look even without giving it a treat later on.
- Start by walking with your dog indoors or in your backyard
When the dog is now coming over to you with its leash on without a lot of difficulties on your part, it is now time for you to grab the other end of the leash and start walking. Once your dog realizes that coming close to you is associated with a reward, it will be easier on your part to coax it to follow you while you are walking. Your dog will continue to follow you hoping that it could get a treat at the end of the walk.
Remember to not coax your dog with a treat the entire time like holding a stick with a carrot in front of a donkey. Instead, let it naturally expect a reward from you at the end of the walk instead of using the reward as a carrot on a stick. You should only show and give the reward after a few minutes of walking so that it will associate walking on a leash with a treat.
Make sure you do this activity frequently and consistently but keep in mind to make sure that your sessions are as short as possible. You can do this 10 to 15 minutes a day or every other day. In some cases, you can do it multiple times a day but with a few hours in between sessions.
Another thing to remember when you are walking with your dog is to stay in front of it at all times. This will show your dog who’s the boss. Many people make the mistake of being behind the dog and to allow the dog to just lead on. Instead, what you need to do is to make sure that you are in front of the dog at this stage of the training so that it will know that you are the one leading.
- Teach your dog to walk at your side
Once it has been established that your dog will follow you while you are both walking with its leash on it, it is now time to teach it to walk at your side instead of behind you. The left side is the traditional side but you can also use the right side if you want.
The best way to do this is to shorten the leash so that your dog won’t be able to walk behind or in front of you. Pull him over to the desired side using small treats so that your dog will know which side it should walk on if it wants to get rewarded. As soon as he has adjusted to walking beside you, stop giving your dog treats frequently and just give it a reward at the end of the entire walk.
- Take the training outside
When you are already confident enough with your dog’s ability to walk nicely with you on a leash indoors or in your backyard, it is time to test the waters by taking the walk around the neighborhood or even in the nearest park.
The reason why this is an advanced step is that there will be distractions that may attract your dog’s attention and cause it to misbehave. As such, it is important that you only do this step once you are confident enough in your dog’s ability to walk with you while it is wearing its leash.
Again, positive reinforcement is the key here because your dog will always think that there is something positive waiting at the end of the walk when it behaves accordingly. When something distracts it, stop what you are doing, do not pull the leash, and just stand still so that your dog will understand that it is not in control of the situation. As soon as it stops misbehaving, give it a treat so that it will understand that behaving is the only way for it to be given a reward.
Harnesses that turn the dog back to you if it is dragging
For pet owners with dogs that love pulling and dragging even after training them how to walk with you nicely, dog harnesses are great options instead of using collars. That is because harnesses are meant to prevent and stop dogs on their tracks whenever they start pulling you. Some harnesses are even designed to pull the dog back to you if they try to drag you.
Harnesses also reduce the pressure on the dog’s windpipe because of how they were designed to pull on the dog’s body instead of its neck. That is why plenty of dog owners prefer harnesses over collars.
When you are thinking of using harnesses, take note that they are better for larger dogs because of their tendency to pull and drag their owners during a walk. But you can still use harnesses for smaller dogs as well.
For those who are looking for the best harnesses that help turn your dog back to you whenever they try to drag you, here are the ones worth your consideration:
This harness allows you to clip the leash on the dog from the front and from the back so that you have a wider range of options depending on how your dog behaves whenever you are out on a walk. On top of that, it assures that your dog will be pain-free when it tries to drag you because the harness is padded.
This back-clip harness is one of the more comfortable harnesses for your furry pals to wear because it is easy to adjust and has enough padding on it. The comfort that this harness provides is perfect for dogs that aren’t really strong pullers but are nonetheless still pretty much active and curious during your outdoor walks.
Because this harness features an illuminated design, it is perfect for night walks and early morning walks with your furry pet. The LED lighting allows the dog to stay visible even during low-light conditions. This ensures you and your pet’s safety whenever you are out on a walk.