Training your dog to walk politely on a leash is an essential skill that ensures not only the safety of your furry friend but also their ability to interact harmoniously with people and other animals. With the right equipment and a basic understanding of dog training techniques, you can enhance your dog’s walks, making every outing a pleasant experience.
Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Gather the Right Materials
Your first step is to equip yourself with the necessary items for leash training. These include a suitable collar or harness and a leash. The type of collar or harness may vary depending on your dog’s size and breed, ranging from buckle collars to Martingale collars, head halters, or front-clip harnesses.
Leashes should be either 4-foot or 6-foot in length; avoid retractable leashes as they give less control. And, of course, a pocketful of your dog’s favorite treats will be invaluable in reinforcing positive behavior.
Start Slow and Steady
Begin the training process with a calm and patient approach. Fill your pocket or a treat pouch with the chosen treats. Pick a side for your dog to walk on, holding a handful of treats on that side to lure them into the right position. For instance, if you prefer your dog on your left, the treats should be in your left hand. The leash should be held in the opposite hand with the rest of it hanging loosely.
Reinforce Positive Behavior with Treats
Get started by taking a step and then stopping, giving your dog a treat from your hand. The treats should be delivered at your side, aligning with your pant seam, thereby guiding your dog to the desired position.
Gradually, increase the steps you take before rewarding your dog with a treat. If your dog shows anticipation for the treat, it’s an indication they are getting the hang of it.
Don’t Respond to Unwanted Behavior
If your dog tries to lead by pulling ahead, stop walking. Call them back to your side or use a treat to coax them back.
However, you should avoid rewarding your dog until you’ve walked a few steps together. This strategy prevents the dog from learning that pulling ahead and then returning leads to a treat. Instead, they should associate treats with maintaining a loose leash and walking alongside you.
Repeat and Finish Strong
As your dog improves, you should increase the number of steps between treats. Engage with your dog using a soft, encouraging voice to keep their attention focused on you. Once they can walk appropriately on a loose leash, you may introduce a command word such as “heel,” “with me,” or “let’s walk.” After completing the walk, use a release command like “all done,” “okay,” or “that’ll do.”
What to Do If You Encounter a Dangerous Dog
Leash training your dog is an integral part of pet ownership that ensures safety and enjoyable walks. Unfortunately, not every dog owner takes this important step. If you encounter a dangerous dog while on a walk, it is important to remain calm and get to a safe place as soon as possible.
Do not approach the dog, avoid eye contact, and slowly back away. In case of a bite, seek immediate medical attention to prevent infections. Then, contact a Washington dog bite attorney to discuss your options for recovering financial compensation.