Leash training your dog is much more than actually following a few steps and guidelines. It’s the actual mindset of the owner that is the single most important element. Success or failure, joy or frustration – all depend on how you approach your dog’s walking sessions.
Start your leash training off on the right paw, so to speak. If you have a puppy that is unaccustomed to a leash and collar, let it first adjust to the feel of a buckle collar only. Once it is comfortable wearing the collar, snap on a short, light line and watch while it drags that around. Leave the line on for 10-minute sessions a couple of times a day until your puppy no longer pays attention to it.
For an older puppy or adult dog that you have had fitted for a headcollar or prong collar, again, let it have time to adapt to the feel of this new device before snapping on a leash. Do not leave specialty collars on an unsupervised dog. Because both prong and headcollars tighten with pressure, a dog can suffer serious injury if the collar catches on an object. Pay close attention to your dog during these get-comfortable sessions.
It’s important that you approach training with the right attitude, because teaching leash manners requires absolute consistency on your part. Every walk becomes a training session, whether you plan on it or not. There is no such thing as “We train when we walk after work, but all the other walks are just walks”.
This is a difficult concept for people, as we are impatient, hurried, and often doing something other than paying attention to our dog as it walks.
While your dog is learning, there should be no rushed walks, no stops to chat with neighbors, no using the time to make a call on your cell phone, etc. You can’t expect your dog to become mindful of you during a walk if you consistently ignore it.
Likewise, recognize that your dog doesn’t pull on the leash to aggravate, annoy, punish or get back at you – it’s simply a matter of cause and effect. The dog is thinking: I pull, you follow, and therefore, I get to where I want to go.
You must reshape this thought process. Put emotions aside, view your lessons as an opportunity to forge a new relationship, and decide that from this day forward you and your dog will learn how to enjoy your walking time together!