Proper Leash Walking

Walking with your dog should be fun and you have to be the one in control at all times. It should not be a battle, you are the pack leader you need to lead. Your dog should always be either beside you or behind you but never in front and never pulling. A walk with your pet should be a no pull situation! This applies to both you and the dog.


Any dog can learn to walk correctly while on a leash, it just takes time and consistency. If you have an older dog who up until now has been allowed to lead and to pull, the time to correct the situation is now. You may need to go right back to basics. That means you may want to start practising in the house. Attach the leash to your waist and train the dog to follow you around the house.

Once you and the dog are ready to go outside be prepared to go slowly. Your dog has already learned to pull and it is going to take time to teach him that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable. You are going to use the stop and freeze method every time the dog starts to pull. Permit the dog to walk as far as the leash allows but once the leash is tight, freeze. Turn and face another direction and call the dog. If he comes to your side praise and reward him and move on.

If he remains facing the other way take a very small, slow step in the opposite direction while calling his name and if need be offer a treat. Once he has returned to you praise and give him the reward. Continue walking away from whatever was interesting the dog. After a couple of feet, you can turn back and go the other way. If the dog fails to respond to your call or the treat and is still pulling away, give the leash a flick. Do not pull, just flick. The point of this exercise is to get the dog to focus on you. If he still is not responding, keep the leash tight and walk up to the dog. Touch the dog on the side of his neck while speaking his name. You want to get the dog’s attention. Once he turns and looks at you move in the direction that you want to go.

As the dog learns to walk beside you, work on changing direction frequently. Take a few steps in one direction then quickly turn and walk in another direction. Vary your turns, and vary the number of steps that you take, keep the dog guessing. His attention should be focused on you at all times. Praise the dog and offers rewards as he stays in the correct position. You want the dog to know when he is doing a good thing. Many owners are quick to correct but fail to encourage and praise good behaviour.

Proper leash walking is going to take time for your pet to learn. Have patience and be consistent. This means that you have to use this technique every time the dog is on the leash, even if you are just running out to the car or doing a quick late night walk. You have to do it every time. The other important thing is to make sure that all members of the family or anyone else who is going to be walking the dog use the same method.

Remember that a walk is supposed to be a fun time for your pet. You should allow your dog the chance to smell and explore. You want the dog to stay close to you but he should not be expected to remain in the perfect heel position during the entire outing. A walk should not be confused with asking the dog to heel. Heeling requires much more focus and work on the part of the dog. You can certainly spend time during the walk training the dog to heel but you should also allow time for the dog to just have fun.

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