Knowing how to train a dog to lead is something every dog owner should know.
Dogs pulling is one of the top behavioural issues addressed by dog trainers and one of the most common reasons dogs are brought to shelters. Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous and, at the very least, make walking the dog something you dread.
In this article, we show you.
- How to train a puppy to walk like a dream
- How to help an older dog with bad walking habits
- What leads, harnesses and leashes suit which type of dogs (very important)
- How to stop aggressive pullers for good.
Learning how to train a dog to walk on leash properly doesn’t mean having to invest in dog training classes with the very best trainer in the world. Chances are, you will always be the best trainer for your dog! However, knowing how to train a dog to lead – or to teach a dog to walk properly – is often a case of time.
Every lesson to be learned takes practice, and the same goes for our four-legged friends. You can teach an old dog new tricks, it turns out, and any avid dog walker will tell you that training on the lead needs patience, a treat or two and the right products.
Even an adult dog can learn how to change its behavior with the right amount of training sessions and patience!
So, whether you are a professional dog walker with a tricky client, a new dog owner and your dog pulls, keep reading this article for tips to help Fido learn better manners. We’re seasoned dog lovers ourselves, we love tackling these topics and we know only too well that success stories come through a fair bit of reward training.
What Age Should You Start Leash Training a Puppy?
A puppy can start their leash training skills from about four to six weeks old.
Although it may seem early, they will be at a point where they absorb a lot of information and immediately begin training! They will see the leash as a toy and you should reward them for taking an interest in it so they associate it with positive things.
Of course, that does not mean that you should tire your dog out and have them working for hours on end. This will bore and frustrate them, which is not how we want them to feel when we break the lead out. Keep a treat or two on hand and take it in slow steps.
At this stage, lead training your puppy mainly involves getting them used to the leash and to following you around closely.
Step by Step Guide to Teaching a Puppy to Walk on a Lead
Stuck on how to start your walking sessions with your pup? Check out the following tips:
- Start by getting them used to wearing a collar. It is best to start with a soft collar, one made of soft material instead of a stiff one. Making them as comfortable as possible with the collar from the start will make the process go a lot easier!
- Start walking them around in smaller areas. For example, you can start in the house and then transition into the garden or in front of your home have a treat on hand for when they walk nice. This will be far safer and easier to keep your dog’s attention than starting directly in public.
- Always have treats on you. Stop when they pull and reward them when they return to the right position by your side.
- Be enthusiastic about going out together. Show your dog how excited you are about going for a walk with the lead, and they will follow your enthusiasm.
- Train them to heel, sit and stay. These are three fundamental commands that will come in handy more often than you might think!
- Take your time. Be patient with your dog and don’t try to bombard all of this information into their brain at once. Instead, taking the time with short training sessions and each step will ensure its efficiency and your pup’s well-being while out walking.
How to Stop Your Dog Pulling on the Lead
Firstly, it is important to understand that a dog is pulling to move forwards. As we are dragged along, they believe that pulling is the only way to keep walking and therefore only slow down or stop at the end of the walk or if they get tired.
The best way to stop this behaviour is by stopping every time your dog pulls until the lead is loose. Unfortunately, this should be repeated every time they pull and will therefore require a lot of patience and treats!
Secondly, carry treats or their favourite toy with you as a reward factor. Always reward them when they return to your side, act well, sit and heel on command, etc. Of course, making a fuss of them is very good too, but the occasional treat always works best to get them on side!
Choose the right training and walking products. For example, a collar and a lead may not provide sufficient enough control over your dog and should be replaced with a strong and comfortable harness. For the best selection of retractable dog leads, that’s here.
How do I control my dog in public?
In public, always keep your dog on a lead and close to you. Being near you will help if they are panicking or becoming overwhelmed. Always have treats in your pocket to reward good behaviour. Teaching a dog to walk safely when nervous is going to take time.
Why won’t my puppy walk on a leash?
There are a few reasons why your puppy may not like being on a leash. First, check that the collar that they are wearing is flexible and not too tight. Experts recommend training your dog with treats or rewards like their favourite toy; at times you bring the lead out.
Walking the dog is an essential part of pet ownership, and although the lead may seem like a natural thing for them, it really isn’t.
Learning how to walk on a lead properly by your side takes time, finding the right method for your pet, and a treat here and a treat there, a lead of the right length and a flat collar and slow steps. It doesn’t take any particular skill, top brands, or anything else to teach your dog leash manners! Learning how to control a dog without losing patience is so important.
Dog training – especially attention training – takes a lot of practice.