January is not only National Train Your Dog Month, it’s National Walk Your Dog Month, and we’re celebrating by sharing tips on how you can train your dog to walk on a leash. While trained dogs make walking on a leash look like a breeze, the reality is that walking an untrained dog on a leash can be a major challenge. These training tips will help you teach your dog to walk on a leash, and give you the confidence to stick with this healthy habit throughout the year.
Introduce the Leash to the Dog
Regardless of your dog’s age or previous leash exposure, all dogs can be taught to walk on a leash. Start simple. Start by exposing your dog to the leash. It’s recommended to let your dog wear her collar or harness with the leash around the house for brief periods of time to get her used to the sensation.
You can give treats during this time, so that wearing the harness and leash has positive associations.
Teach Your Dog Cues to Follow
One of the biggest struggles dog owners have is their dog pulling the leash or not following. While the dog is wearing the leash, practice getting him to come to you. Do this using cues. Cues should be audible sounds (like a click or a word) that you consistently use to indicate a behavior. When your dog obeys the cue, reward him with a treat. Eventually, he will come to understand what the cue means and will perform the command without requiring a reward.
Chances are, your dog will need to practice learning and following the cue to come to you repeatedly. You might need to rehearse this over the course of several days for brief periods of time each day before your dog obeys you completely and without treats.
Practice Walking Outside (with Treats)
When you take your dog outside, he might not respond as well to cues because of the additional stimuli. That is okay. Practice walking in an open space where there are few distractions.
- Put your dog on the leash and start to walk.
- Use verbal cues to guide your dog. If your dog doesn’t obey or acts excitedly, stop walking.
- Wait for your dog to come back to you and start again. When he walks where you’d like him to, reward his efforts with a treat. Ideally, the verbal cues you used to coach your dog will be effective in getting him to walk without pulling, lunging, or chasing something in the environment.
Note that if you don’t have a backyard or space to practice walking in that is (relatively) stimulation-free, you can practice walking your dog inside your home. As with learning cues, it is best to start with short walks to help your dog get used to walking the way you want him to walk on a leash.
As you extend the longevity of your walks, you can reduce the number of treats you give your dog for walking correctly until you are walking or jogging with your dog exactly the way you want with no treats. Keep in mind it is okay if your dog lunges or does things he shouldn’t do at firstall dogs can be trained, it just takes time, but what better time to train your dog to walk on a leash than during National Train Your Dog Month and National Walk Your Dog Month?
Training dogs can sometimes be a challenge, but taking your time, using cues, and using treats makes it doable. Even though treats are rewards, they should still be all-natural and complaint with your dog’s diet. Wellness Pet Food makes a variety of dog treats and snacks that are healthy and delicious and are perfect for training your dog.