It’s a common misconception that dogs are born with the ability to walk on a leash; however, dog parents must teach their dogs how to walk with a leash. It’s an essential skill to instill, and you’ll appreciate it whenever you take your dog for a walk.
Introduce your puppy to the collar and leash. Allow your puppy to wear his collar and leash inside while you play with him and feed him treats. Your puppy should enjoy the collar-leash time because it represents food and fun.
Create a Cue
Introduce a sound cue that indicates “food is on the way” to your puppy. Some people enjoy clicking and treating, while others prefer to say “yes” or cluck their tongues. Regardless of which you use, the method is the same: Make the noise with your puppy on a leash and collar in a quiet, distraction-free environment. When your puppy turns toward you and looks at you, reward him with a treat. Your puppy will look at you and come to you for the treat after a few repetitions.
Bring Your Dog to You
While he’s on his way to you, back up a few paces while still wearing the leash and collar, and then reward him when he arrives. Continue the progression until your puppy comes running to you after hearing the cue noise and walks a few paces with you. Remember that puppies have a short attention span, so keep your sessions short and end them when your puppy is still eager to do more rather than when he is mentally exhausted.
Start with Practicing Indoors
Take a few steps in a room with little distraction now that your puppy understands how to approach you. It will be difficult for him to feel and see the leash around him. Reward your puppy with treats and praise as he becomes accustomed to approaching you while wearing a leash.
Bring it Outside
Finally, you’re ready to put your puppy’s new skills to the test. Because all the sounds, smells, and sights your puppy encounters will be intriguing and novel to him, this step will present new challenges. Be patient and start with short walks. If your puppy appears to be about to lunge toward something or become distracted while on a walk (you’ll notice this because you’ll be keeping your eyes on him at all times), make your cue sound and move a few steps away. Then reward him for following you.
Troubleshooting Common Leash Training Issues
Even if your puppy is learning to walk nicely on a leash, you may encounter problems as your dog grows older, visits new places, and encounters new distractions. You should teach him to walk on a loose leash because it is more comfortable for both of you!
If your dog begins to pull in the opposite direction:
Make yourself into “a tree.” Hold your breath, and don’t move until your dog comes back to you. Front-hook harnesses and head halters are alternative training tools for pulling dogs.
If your dog lunges, do the following:
If your dog is chasing something on a walk, take the initiative. Increase the distance between your dog and the target by redirecting your attention with a treat. This behavior is typical in herding breeds, but dogs of any breed can be startled by something new.
If your dog barks at other dogs while out for a walk:
Some dogs have a habit of barking at other dogs while out for a walk, typically due to a lack of exercise. Ensure your dog receives the appropriate mental and physical stimulation for his age and breed. If this is still an issue, follow the same steps as if your dog was lunging, as described above: create distance and offer treats before he begins to bark so that every time he sees another dog, he becomes accustomed to turning his attention to you.
You’ll gradually reduce the number of treats and troubleshooting that your puppy requires during a walk, but it’s a good idea to keep some on hand at all times so you can reinforce good leash-walking behavior when needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What age should a dog be able to walk on a leash?
Leash training a puppy at ten weeks is ideal, but you can begin as early as four to six weeks of age. Your puppy should be aware of when they need to go outside to urinate or defecate by this point.
How long does it take to leash train a dog?
Puppies are easy and can probably be fully leash-trained in a month, but dogs in the “teenage” stage or older usually require more extended training.
Which side should a dog walk on?
When it comes to which side the dog goes on, trainers teach show and hunting dogs to stay on their human’s left side, but it doesn’t matter for most dogs. However, experts recommend that you choose a side — left or right — and stick to it, so the dog doesn’t trip you back and forth.
Is it OK to let your dog walk in front of you?
If your dog needs extra management and supervision during walks, he will do his best walking directly next to you at all times. In this case, allow your dog time to explore before or after the walk.