How to Leash Train Your Dog
Whether you are planning a long, scenic hike or taking a leisurely stroll in your neighborhood, these tips can help make going for walks more enjoyable for both you and your companion. Leash training ensures that your dog can enjoy the environment outside of the home, while being safe and secure by your side. What a dog owner needs to train on a leash are the following:
A harness covers a larger part of the body to ensure control. Smaller dogs are prone to neck and back issues, like collapsed trachea, so a harness prevents pressure from being solely on those areas. The two finger rule is a good indicator for judging if a harness fits by allowing for your two fingers to fit between the harness and fur. Two fingers is loose enough to allow comfort and snug enough to prevent escape. Let your dog get used to the feel and weight of a harness and leash by having them wear these items in the house. Walk them inside of your home for a bit everyday to introduce them to your commands.
How do you reinforce good behavior?
Many fosters agree that eye contact, cue words, and hand signals are crucial parts in communicating with your companion. Practice in the home by using the same words, like "look" and "stop", and the same hand signals, like a palm up or a snap. When they make eye contact with you or stop when you ask, reward them with a treat. On the walk outside, continue to use cue words, hand signals, treats, and eye contact. You want to communicate to your companion that obeying signals and walking close to you are the right things to do. It is all about repetition!
Your companion is not going to learn your commands and expectations on a walk right away, but there are ways you can reinforce what you intend on teaching your dog. If your dog is pulling, stop in your tracks and wait for them to come back to you. This is not a time to yank or drag your dog, rather you want to get them into the habit of looking back at you for how to proceed on the walk. This can also be the case when your dog is lunging at something, say a squirrel or another dog. Keep space between the other being and you, and redirect their attention back to yourself. Reward them with a treat when they get their attention back on you. As your dog gets into the habit of listening to your commands, you will want to decrease the amount of treats you give them.
Barking can also be an issue with some dogs on walks. A lot of times this goes away as your dog goes on regular walks and becomes comfortable with their outdoor experience. A way to correct this habit, if it is something that persists, is to give your dog a treat before they bark. This will redirect their attention back to you and your dog will learn to look back at you when they come into contact with new dogs or people.
Why practice leash training?
Environmental dangers, like coyotes or poisonous plants, can threaten the safety of your companion. When faced with a threat, you only have your control and dog's obedience to rely on.
Exercise is an important part of a dog's wellbeing. Poor leash training can lead to a decrease in walks and their overall activity levels.
Regular training can prevent aggressive retaliation, anxiety, and excessive barking.
There is a sense of confidence that comes with trusting your dog and knowing how to handle them in new situations. Going to the beach for the first time or introducing them to friends does not have to be a cause for worry. Practice makes for good habits!
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