How To Train Your Dog To Walk On A Leash

Going for a stroll with my favorite two-legger is something I look forward to every morning and afternoon!  We explore, I am always finding new smells, and it is time for just the two of us with no distractions. I have to admit though, it was not always easy for my two-legger.  When I was a puppy, I was not a good leash walker by nature. I pulled, tried to bite my leash when walking, and when I didn’t want to go home, I jumped around in the air and rolled in whatever grass I could find! She was definitely embarrassed. Here’s a throwback picture of me then!.. How could a face this cute be so bad - right?!

My two-legger was not going to have me acting wild on our strolls, so she was quick to get me practicing on how to walk on a leash and before I knew it, I was a pro!  

Here’s a few tips on how to help your pooch learn to be a pro leash walker!  

  1. Start in a small space with no distractions, have treats or kibble on hand, choose a leash that is comfortable for you and your dog, and don’t forget to bring a lot of patience!! Us dogs are smart, but like anything - we need to practice, practice, practice, to get it right.
  2. Pick a side you want your dog to walk on and be consistent.  This will decrease confusion, and will help your pup learn faster.  
  3. With your dog next to your side say “heel” and give your dog a few treats.
  4. Begin to walk slowly, and as soon as your dog’s head reaches the middle of your leg, praise your pup by giving him or her a treat.
  5. Repeat, having your dog stop, saying heel, and slowly walking rewarding your dog with a treat when they reach your side.  * It is important to NEVER yell, hit, or scream your dog’s name when he or she is not learning at the pace you would like.  This can cause your dog to think he or she is in trouble when you call their name (which we can discuss in another blog), but it can also teach them that walking is not fun, and they will not want to do it.
  6. Slowly work your way up to more steps in between rewarding your dog.  If your pup reverts back to bad behavior or seems confused, it happens! Go back to step 5.
  7. Once you and your dog masters step 6, it is time to introduce moving in different directions.  Walking in a line and then looping back is a good way to start. You can also begin to work on changing your pace while walking.  Starting off slow, then picking up your pace, and then slowing down.
  8. Once your dog is confident walking on a leash in different directions and at different speeds, you are ready to introduce walking him or her in new areas!  

REMEMBER: Training is a process!  Don’t expect your dog to be a walking ninja overnight.  If he or she is tired after 20 or 30 minutes of training, that is an adequate amount of time for some good learning to stick!  Learning tires dogs out, just like exercise, so if you see signs of them getting tired. Stop for the day, and try again later or the next day.  As my favorite trainer Ed from Carmichael’s Canine Camp  says, "training is 90% the person and 10% the dog"! Consistence, patience, and lots of love will get you there!

XO - Briggs

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