With nicer weather coming, its a great time to get out there and enjoy some walks with your favorite pooch. Are your dog walks resembling a marathon – with you in 2nd place behind your dog? These tips are for you!
Change Your Direction
Abruptly changing the direction you’re heading in may be enough distraction to make your dog understand that he needs to follow you. Each time your dog begins to yank on the lead or run in front of you, quickly change direction and start walking in a different direction. When he obeys and returns to your side, be sure to follow up with praise and/or a small dog treat. Tempting as it is, don’t scold your dog for tugging on the leash. Just redirect his attention by abruptly changing direction.
To begin with, your walks may only be a few steps at a time. That’s OK! You may need to repeat this process several times. The idea is that you want your dog to be paying attention to you and your movements. Repeating this process and giving praise and treats when he responds positively, quite often fixes the tug of war game some dogs like to play.
If you already have a remote dog trainer that offers both positive and negative tone reinforcement, now would be a great time to put it to use.
Consistency is Important
Now that you’ve made up your mind to leash train your dog, always be consistent. Without consistent boundaries, your dog won’t understand what is expected of him. Treat your leash walking exercises as you would any other obedience training session.
Initially its best if you stick to familiar places, like your backyard or driveway, to practice your new leash training skills. After your dog has mastered his new leash walking skills, you can experiment with longer walks in unfamiliar places.
Keep Up the Good Work
As with all dog training, teaching your dog to walk properly on a leash is an ongoing process. Your dog may need several of these training sessions to fully grasp what you’re teaching him. Don’t assume that the training ends when your dog starts walking beside you. You’ll want to continue to use the distraction technique occasionally to keep him on his toes and reinforce what you’ve taught him.
Be lavish with your praise! Dogs love being rewarded for doing the right thing. The more praise you give when you “catch him” being good, the more likely he is to pay close attention to what you’re doing.