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How To Teach Your Dog To Walk Nicely On The Lead

Teaching your dog to walk on a loose lead is one of the most important parts of dog training. Not only will it help you keep your dog in check while taking walks, but it will also make it easier for you to protect them from dangerous situations in public places. You can teach your dog how to walk nicely on the lead and it requires only a few tools and some basic commands. If you want to teach your dog how to properly walk next to you, read on!

Image illustrating tools needed for teaching your dog how to walk on the lead

Tools and equipment

In order to begin your training you will need to purchase the following:

  • A comfortable but snug collar or harness.
  • A 4 foot or 6 foot long leash.
  • Different treats.

Teach your dog to walk on the lead: Step-by-step guide

Follow the following steps to start training your dog how to walk on a loose leash:

  • Put a collar and a leash on your dog and go out with them. You can start by walking on a quiet sidewalk. 
  • Fill your pocket with treats that your dog likes.
  • First, figure out on which side of the road you want your dog to walk. In order to get your dog to walk on that side, keep some treats on that respective hand.
  • You should hold the leash on the hand that is opposite of your dog. For example, if you want your dog to walk on your right, you should keep the leash on your left hand. The leash should hang loosely.
  • Once you are both in the right place, take a step forward and then stop. Give a treat to your dog but hold the treat close to your pants. It’s fine if your dog doesn’t stay in the “heel” position when you stop, all that matters is that he stops at the same time as you do.
  • If your dog keeps looking at you for more treats, take two more steps before repeating the same process.
  • If your dog tries to pull ahead or walk away, call them back. You can lure him with a treat, however, when your dog comes back to you don’t give them the treat immediately. Take some more steps forward, repeat the process and then give them the treat. If you don’t, your dog will learn that if he pulls away and comes back, he will get a treat. 
  • Gradually increase the number of steps between the treats. Talking to the dog helps them keep their attention on you.
  • Once they start to walk well on a loose leash, name this kind of walk. You can choose phrases such as “with me” or “let’s walk”. In this way, your dog will eventually learn to walk the same way whenever you use this command.
  • When you’re done with the training, release your dog and reward him with praise.
Image illustrating the results of dog training for teaching your dog how to walk on the lead

Teach your dog a “relaxed” walk on the leash

This “relaxed” walk is suitable for moments when you don’t need your dog to stay right on your side. The only rule is that your dog must learn not to pull forward. You can follow these steps for the training:

  • First, choose a word that will be used as a cue for this kind of walk. You can pick “free walk” or “at ease” or something else that best suits you and your dog. Just make sure that it is different from the previous walk command.
  • Choose how much leash you will give your dog. You can walk your dog a longer leash than usual, just make sure that you keep this length consistent throughout the walk. Your dog should understand how much leash length they will get.
  • Use the cue you have chosen and then allow your dog to walk while sniffing around, changing sides or lying down if they want. They can do anything except pull forward.
  • If your dog tries to pull forward, stop moving at once and call them back to you. Once they come by your feet, start walking again.
  • If you see your dog getting fixated on an object, person or another animal, try to call them to get back to you. If you can, move to the other direction. However, don’t get closer to the thing they are fixated on as this may lead your dog to start pulling.
  • If you want to switch from this “relaxed” walk to your formal walk, call your dog back to you and give him the “heel” cue.
Image illustrating lead training for dogs

Leash training tips and troubleshooting

Even if your dog training is going well, there might be times when your dog won’t respond to your cues. Afterwall, they are instinctive creatures. Moreover, your dog might find it difficult to walk on a leash when experiencing new distractions. Here are some tips to help you get out of a tricky situation when teaching your dog leash-training.

Your dog starts to pull on the leash

If your dog tries to pull in the other direction, you should stop moving all-together. Stand still and don’t move until your dog comes back to you. Remember that you should not try to pull or yank the leash to get your dog to stop pulling forward. You can opt for a front-hook harness or head later to help you if your dog seems to exhibit such behavior too often.

Your dog tries to lunge forward

If your dog tries to jump on something (a car, dog or a person) try to redirect his attention before he lunges forward. You can get your dog’s attention back to you using a treat. It is important that you stay alert and observe your dog, especially at the beginning of your training. Herding breeds may exhibit this type of behavior more often, however, all dogs can become startled by something they’re not used to.

Your dog starts barking

Some dogs have a tendency to bark at other dogs when going out on walks. In some cases, this problem is caused by lack of mental and physical stimulation. If your dog’s needs are met and he still has a problem with barking, try to use the technique described above. Try to create a distance between your dog and the thing he is barking at and if possible, give him treats before he barks in order to condition him to focus on you everytime he sees another dog/person/car.

Image illustrating leash training for dogs

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, teaching your dog to walk nicely on the lead is a valuable investment in your canine companion’s safety and well-being. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can foster a positive walking experience for both you and your dog. Remember, consistency is key, and patience is a virtue when it comes to training. Celebrate the small victories along the way and be understanding of any challenges that may arise. Leash training is not only about instilling good behavior but also about building a strong bond with your furry friend. 

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