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6 Steps to Train Any Dog to Walk on a Leash
Training a dog to walk without a leash is an important and rewarding experience, but not everyone lives in a region where they can walk their dog off leash. If you have to walk your dog on a leash, and he is pulling and making your walks uncomfortable, here are a few good tips that will make the walks more enjoyable:
Train your dog in an enclosed yard
Start out with a loose collar and some treats
Praise and treat the dog for not pulling or dragging
Try new moves
Try new area
Tips to train your dog to walk on a leash without fussing
1. At least for the first few days, try walking in a fenced off or walled yard so that the dog is not really going anywhere. (If you do not have an enclosed yard try a park where there are no other dogs or people around. Quiet dog parks surrounded by chain link fences are your best option.)
2. Give your dog a tiny treat to make him interested in you, put the leash on your dog, and start walking. If he starts pulling immediately stop, turn right, and walk again. If the dog starts pulling, just repeat this exercise. This may need to be repeated several times, but most dogs will just give up if they realize they are not getting anywhere.
3. If your dog is dragging along instead of forging ahead, call his attention to you and give him a treat. (You can say his name but do not give the recall command. Some people like to use a clicker; I like to make a sound in the back of my throat.) This usually keeps the dog focused on you and he is too interested in you to start pulling.
4. Walk around the yard with your dog at your side, giving him a treat occasionally so that he will keep focused on you.
5. Once your dog is walking by your side without pulling, introduce some new moves. Try a circle, walk in a square, try a circle eight, etc. You need to do this twice a day, for fifteen minutes or so, for at least a week.
6. If you dog is not pulling on the leash in the yard, you can walk in another area with some distractions.
7. If your dog starts pulling again as soon as you start walking outside the yard there are several options. You can move back to the yard and try to reinforce the basics, you can try a harness that is supposed to make your dog off-balanced and less likely to pull, you can use a prong collar, or as a final alternative you can use the type of collar that will choke your dog.
What if nothing works?
Back in the early 90s, when Uncle Matty was the dog trainer everyone listened to, Cesar Millan had not yet been heard of, and clickers were just used to train dolphins, the best way to stop your dog from tugging on his leash was to stop and start walking the other way.
It still works best.
If your dog does not respond to the stopping and turning method, you can try purchasing one of the no-pull harnesses and try it. If you are still having problems, and are overwhelmed by the strength of the dog, I recommend you use a prong collar.
I have used a prong collar to stop dogs pulling on the leash when stopping and walking the other direction has no effect. A German neighbor of mine, 80 plus years old, walks his Rottweiler on the beach and they used to arrive at my house blue in the face—both of them. He had tried a no-pull harness with little effect, had tried stopping and turning, and he finally had decided to use a choke chain and strangle his 130 pound dog each morning. Despite what the moderators of reddit believe, a prong collar is not cruel.
When the dog´s owner switched to a prong collar, the dog stopped pulling. This was the only way that the owner could refrain from being cruel and tugging on the dog.
This book, written by animal behaviorist and cosultant Patricia McConnell, may not help you out by giving specific advice on how to use a leash, but it will tell you a lot about your dogs. I learned several things from reading her viewpoints, and you can too. It is a great book for anyone interested in dogs, their behavior, and how we feel about them.
What about using a Halti head collar?
A Halti head halter can actually do more neck damage than a prong collar, at least according to many dog trainers, including Joaquim and Wendy Volhard. They have had to send some of their client dogs to canine chiropractors after the use of a Halti, but have had results similar to my own after using a prong collar.
Not everyone agrees on this issue, of course, and if you would like to read an opposing viewpoint you should read other articles and form your own opinion.
There are a lot of options available to you if you want to train your dog to stop pulling on his leash. If you need more help, just leave a comment and I will respond as soon as possible.
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