It’s no secret that many dog owners have trouble getting their pooch to be well behaved on a leash. Just take a look at all the people getting dragged by their dog as they walk down the sidewalk.
If you too are busy struggling with your canine sidekick, we’re about to let you in on the easiest way to teach your dog to walk on a leash. It doesn’t take any pleading or bribing with treats. There’s no frustration and, the best part, it only takes a couple of weeks….if you are consistent.
The ‘leash check’
This technique is called the “leash check” and it is pretty simple to execute. Start your walk as you normally would. As soon as your pooch starts trying to pull ahead, immediately turn a full 180 degrees, give the leash a quick tug then release and start walking the other way. Make sure you don’t just pull your dog and start a tug of war match. It’s not about pulling against your dog’s strength but using the leash and collar to deliver a sudden correction. If you just pull steadily, your dog’s natural tendency is to pull back.
Now you repeat the same thing as you walk in the new direction. As soon as your dog starts pulling ahead, do another about face, quick jerk correction and walk the other way. If you’re little pal tries to pull off to the left to sniff or chase something, you immediately turn to your right so you are heading in the opposite direction.
After the jerk, your dog will immediately glance at you to see why gave the correction, but you shouldn’t be looking. Just focus ahead of you in the new direction you are walking. You’ll notice your furry family member starts keeping an eye on you as you walk rather than the other way around. That’s a good thing. Your pooch will get into the habit of checking with you to take cues on his behavior.
Don’t get frustrated if you feel like you are walking in circles at first, you probably are. It’s not about getting to any specific destination in the beginning. As long as your dog gets to relieve himself and gets some exercise, then you accomplished what you needed to on the walk despite not getting very far from your starting point.
Keys to success with the leash check
The keys to this technique are not looking at your dog during the correction, giving a quick jerk instead of a steady pull and being patient. Remember that until your dog knows how to walk appropriately on a leash, all walks are training sessions and need to be treated as such. While there are a number of ways to teach a dog to walk properly on a leash, I have found this to be the quickest method that works without fail no matter your dog’s motivations. Soon you’ll be strolling down the block with a well-behaved dog in tow.
Here are a few pointers on making the leash check a success
Keep them on their toes.
Your dog may begin to anticipate you turning a full reverse so it is good to mix up the direction sometimes and turn to whichever side your dog is not on.
Focus on the technique.
Make sure you are jerking and then releasing the leash. If you just pull steadily the opposite way, it’s not a correction and your dog will try and pull against you.
If you walk your dog like this three times in a row and then decide to let her pull the fourth time, you have erased any training you have done and need to start reinforcing the correct behavior all over again.
Have it be all about you first.
Until your dog is trained to walk properly, don’t let anybody unfamiliar with the technique walk him. That includes any family members not willing to practice it.
Work in free time.
Once your dog is fully trained to walk, you can start teaching a command called “free time” which is a period when you let your dog wander as she sniffs around and leads the walk.
Never do a leash check if your dog is running full speed in the opposite direction as you could hurt her neck.
We are not professionals, please consult a dog trainer for personalized advice.
Image via Flickr/Jason Nobody