small dog on a leash

Most dog owners go into dog ownership assuming many things about their dogs, including that they’ll naturally be able to walk on a leash. Unfortunately, this assumption often proves to be wrong.

Along with house training, leash training is a process that involves instruction, time, and patience. Walking your dog on a leash successfully, though, is an important skill you cannot overlook.

The team at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care is here to give you some tips and tricks on loose leash walking. Before long, your pup (or older dog) will be walking on a leash like a pro, which will serve them well for a lifetime of safe and happy adventures.

Before You Begin

Make sure you choose the correct leash and collar for your pet. The collar should be loose enough so that you can put a finger under it, while not too loose that your pet can easily wriggle out. 

When it comes to initial leash training, and for many dogs thereafter, we recommend a leash and body harness, which fits over the torso. This harness helps you maintain control over your dog’s movement and prevents them from choking or injuring the neck or trachea

Slip-over leashes can be an easy way to practice on a leash when you are at home. Many large breeds and those  who are not leash resistant do fine with a standard leather or nylon collar. 

6 Tips for Walking Your Dog on a Leash

Training your dog to walk on a leash without pulling is something many dog owners ask us about. With the right techniques you can teach your dog to be less anxious when on a leash and less likely to want to wrestle, run, or otherwise make for a scary and challenging walk. Here are a few of our points for a great walk with your bestie.

  1. Start in a small space. Rather than taking your dog out to a crowded park or downtown, begin the leash training in your yard, living room, or kitchen. This allows your dog to get used to the leash and you can gauge their reaction to commands. This space should be kept as free and clear of distractions as possible while you are training your pup.
  1. Teach your pet basic commands first. Many dog walking problems can be corrected by teaching the right commands. Your dog will need to know sit, stay, wait, drop it, and so on before you can journey out. Practice with your pet how to sit and wait. Try how they do with turning right or left as you walk together and assess how they respond to you. Gradually add outdoor distractions and continue to maintain your pet’s attention. How do they do? You may need to work more on basic commands before moving on, if your pet is too distracted or doesn’t follow the commands.
  1. Take your dog on a walk. Once your dog has mastered commands and is comfortable on a leash, try your hand at a walk around the block. Make it a fun time by using your commands and rewarding your pet. Allow them to see others and their dogs by walking through a busier area. When someone or a dog approaches, cross the street until you know your dog won’t overreact to them. See how they respond to kids, wildlife, and strangers.
  1. Resist the tug. If your dog wants to run ahead or tug on the leash, stop what you are doing. Tell them to sit and stay seated until they calm down and pay attention to your cues. From there, continue to walk until they try and rush ahead or pull. Repeat this “start and stop” process until they know what pulling means they must sit.
  1. Give plenty of treats and praise. Your dog will quickly learn the ropes of loose leash walking when you reward them for the right behavior. After they are seated and continue on without pulling at the leash, verbally reward them by saying, “good” or “yes” and giving them a treat. Positive rewards based training is the best way of getting your pet to respond favorably. 
  1. Patience, patience, patience. Teaching your dog any new skill requires an ample amount of patience, repetition, and reward. Your pet, with the right instruction, praise, and affection, will learn how to walk on a leash like a pro. 

If you have any questions about walking your dog on a leash, or would like to make an appointment, please do not hesitate to contact us. Have a wonderful walk with your four-legged friend!