Updated by Sheryl on Oct 14, 2021
You see your neighbor's dog walking on a leash like the most well-behaved dog and wonder what's wrong with your pup? Well, his dog wasn't born that way. There is some real training behind that leash walking.
Leash training can be given to dogs of any age, size, and breed. You must be able to take your dog outside to exercise, poop, and socialize without creating any mess. Obeying the leash law ensures safety for both you and your dog and everyone around you.
But above all, it's important to know the right techniques for training a dog to walk on a leash. Only then will you enjoy every moment you spend with your dog outside.
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Leash training should also start in a step-by-step manner.
The first step of any leash training is to find the right equipment for your dog. The collar shouldn't be too tight to make him uncomfortable or too loose that he escapes. For beginners, a leash that is 4 to 6 feet long is considered standard.
After you have found the perfect leash for your dog, let him be familiar with it. Get your puppy's attention by giving him treats or his favorite toy and then put the leash on, so wearing the leash becomes his second nature.
This step involves teaching your dogs some verbal cues. This is the tough part. So, be patient, especially if you are training a puppy. Teach them a cue which means he will be offered treats. You can say "yes” or "good” or click your tongue. Some people also use a clicker. While your dog is on his leash, make the sound. As soon as your dog responds to the sound, reward him with treat.
Practice step not until your dog spontaneously responds to the cues. Decide on which side you will be walking your dog. Whichever side you are comfortable with, make sure you keep treats on that side.
While your dog is still wearing his leash, make the sounds, he should come running towards you. Make him walk with you a few steps and offer treats for every step he takes and praise him, saying "good boy” or "well done.” This will make your dog follow you more.
He may need to relieve himself for some time. After a few minutes of break, say "come on,” if he catches up with you, reward him with a treat and say "good boy.” If he doesn't come to you, gently pull the leash, but do not force him. Praise him as he catches up with you, and now you will be offering treats after he takes a couple of steps with you.
Keep practicing with the leash on until your dog stays beside you most of the time. When he goes off direction, make sure he will run back to you as soon as you say, "let's go.” Give tiny amounts of treats at this stage. And keep the sessions short to keep the training fun, not mentally exhausting for your dog.
Walk extra slow, extra fast, and change directions to see if he follows you. Reward him if he continues walking beside you while you walk differently than usual. Don't reward him as frequently as before. Reward him only when he pays attention to the changes.
When you have successfully made it through the steps mentioned above, it's time for your dog to venture outside. You will be following the same techniques you followed inside the house, but now you will face new challenges- the overwhelming smells, people, other dogs, cats, squirrels. It's easy for any dog to get distracted. Say "let's go” and praise him, saying "good boy,” and feed him tiny treats as he walks beside you. Keep the first few outdoor walks short.
It's also common for dogs to pull. If your dog is pulling you or tries lunging towards something, distract him with treats. If he ignores you, stop, don't move, don't talk. Turn him around and walk in the opposite direction. Reward him with an extra treat if he follows your command.