You’ve heard about good leash manners. If you’ve never a dog leash manners, this can seem like a mythical holy grail, but don’t worry, it is real and we promise can happen for your dog. Good leash manners are when your dog can walk without leash tension. To clarify, this doesn’t mean “heeling” or your dog walking right next to your left knee the entire time because it is really no fun for you or your dog and a bit unreasonable to expect of your dog.
And you may be wondering, well “Does my dog even need good leash manners?” Most undoubtedly, yes. Why? Well…unless you enjoy being pulled all over the place every time you go for a walk, then yes, your dog can do with some good leash manner training. If you’re using a collar, What if I have an older dog? Don’t worry, these tips are suitable for pups and adult dogs, although we admit it is easier with a younger pup.
How? Read on my friend! Below are the top 6 tips that we have for how you can improve or train your dog’s leash manners.
Treats Treats Treats!
Make sure that you have plenty of your dog’s favorite treats with you because you will need lots of these to reward for good behavior. Remember to only use these after your dog has performed a desired behavior. Don’t give treats as a way to bribe your dog into doing something. Your dog will think that it was a reward for the behavior before. Also, try to place the treat very close to you so your dog will be further incentivized to stay close to you.
Starting in an environment that your dog is already familiar with will make training easier because there are less distractions. Your dog can’t help but be curious about all the new things to explore, so if you are trying to train a new skill, it will be much harder starting outdoors.
Let Your Pup Calm Down
We all know how excited our pups can get even at the slightest indication that a walk is about to happen. Your dog is excited and who can blame him, but this is not the ideal atmosphere to start your walk, so the first step is to let your dog calm down before the walk even starts. Once you’ve put on the dog leash, just stand there and wait and eventually your dog will settle down. Give her a treat and tell her a positive verbal reinforcement like “Yes” or “Good.”
While you are walking, if you feel leash tension from pulling, repeat the process. Stand still and call his name until your dog releases the leash tension. Reward with a treat and a verbal positive reinforcement again for the good behavior. Do this with a slightly longer walk each time.
If your dog continues to pull, do not let him drag you forward. It’s important that you just stay planted to the ground. If your dog lunges forward and you go with him, he will learn that if he pulls, you will come. The best way to react is to just stay put as long as you need to and eventually your dog will calm down. It can be a tempting reaction to pull back when your dog pulls, but this will just make your dog pull even harder.
For more specifics of how to do no pull training with a front attachment harness, check out this page.
Although it may take a while for your dog to properly learn good leash manners, you will get there! You just need to stay resolved and stick to the tips above. After your dog has learned good leash manners, you can scale back the number of treats that you give your dog, but it is still good to keep some treats around to continue rewarding no leash tension good behaviour every now and then so your dog doesn’t forget.
Have the Right Equipment for Training Leash Manners
If you are training a dog who pulls, then it’s best to train with a harness with a front attachment. The front attachment ring will further assist with leash manner training because it will redirect the dog when he pulls without hurting him. You’d need to make sure that the harness is well fitted. This means that it is secure (so your dog doesn’t slip loose), but not so tight that it causes chafing. A collar is not recommended while training leash manners because a collar can cause injuries for a dog who pulls. If you have a large dog, you might want to check out one of these harnesses designed for large dogs.
It’s also not advised to use an extendable leash when training. Your dog will be confused as to why sometimes he can go 2 feet and sometimes 10. It will be much harder for the dog to understand what is an acceptable range for him to go before hitting leash tension. We would recommend a fixed length leash like our Sierra Leash or Explorer Leash.
Okay, so you’ve got everything you need now to train your dog into a well leash-mannered dog. I hope this was useful and would love to hear your comments or questions below!