Walking your pooch should be a mutually rewarding experience that strengthens the bond between you two. Unfortunately, when dogs tend to yank on their leashes while exploring the great outdoors together, frustration and exhaustion may arise instead. Don’t fear, though! Our comprehensive guide reveals proven strategies for acclimating dogs to proper heeling manners through loose-leash walking methods—perfect for turning any dragging tendencies around quickly. This is From Pulling to Heeling:
A fundamental step before embarking on your training is gathering the right gear. You will need a robust, 4-6-foot leash and either an accurately fitted collar or harness for optimal results. Avoiding using retractable leashes is recommended, as they tend to foster inappropriate behaviors such as pulling during the exercise routine.
Related blog: Choosing The Right Leash
A successful training session largely depends on having a solid base of basic obedience commands in place before tackling new challenges. To pave the way for loose-leash walking, start by making sure your dog is comfortable with and responsive to cues like “sit,” “stay,” and “heel” in calm environments. This foundation will give both you and your pup greater confidence as you progress through the training process.
It’s important to create a low-distraction setting when beginning training with your dog. You can choose to utilize a quiet backyard or serene park as starting points. The aim is to create gradually increasing challenges so that your dog can advance their skills over time.
Effective training starts with focus exercises, which help you make good progress in teaching dogs new tricks easily. To get started on eye contact training, hold some small treats at first and let your dog get familiarized with their scent by smelling them before bringing them up near your face where they can see you clearly while staring into their eyes. Signal them using words of praise like “yes” or current clicker technology before handing out another snack that will reinforce better connections between eye contact and rewards. The key is repetition until both of you get better at it.
To help your dog learn how to walk on a loose leash, begin by affixing their collar or harness with a leash while allowing free movement under supervision. This introductory approach helps pets become familiar with wearing leashes without feeling stressed about performing optimally right away.
To successfully train your dog on proper leash manners, hold a tasty reward in your hand and let them investigate it before instructing them with “let’s go.” As you both start walking, gauge their pace so that they remain at nose level with the reward. Don’t forget to use positive reinforcements like saying “yes” or using a clicker when they do what you want, as well as rewarding them with the initial snack.
Stroll alongside your dog, then halt if they remain calm without tugging on the leash. Acknowledge this action with an indication, followed by rewards of both praise and treats, as their effort deserves such acknowledgement. Such conditioning reinforces the thought that when they behave accordingly during their walks, good things result.
Should your dog happen to become overly enthusiastic during a stroll, causing him or her to start tugging ahead, simply come to an amiable standstill until they realize their impulsive behavior is uncalled for. Once they opt to come back towards you, take note and give commendation through a reward as necessary. This fosters healthy communication between dog and owner, reinforcing the notion that pulling does not further their journey.
Once your dog grasps the concept of walking without tugging in a calm environment, it may be prudent to slowly incorporate distractions. Examples of such distractions include other dogs, individuals, or fascinating scents. Stay vigilant and reward your dog for keeping a loose leash even when amidst distractions.
Achieving success with loose-leash walking requires consistent effort and gradual improvement. Practice every day in varying environments while progressively challenging your dog’s capabilities. As your dog becomes more dependable, lessen their reliance on treats but keep up with verbal praise and random rewards that reinforce their good behavior along the way.
It takes time and patience to master the art of loose-leash walking with your pooch. Yet, with unwavering dedication to practicing regularly and using affirmative feedback, you can train them to accompany you calmly. Always remember to maintain an optimistic outlook during this journey. In doing so, delight in forging deeper connections during idyllic walks with your well-trained pup by your side.