If your dog has never been leash trained, start by training off leash.
Your heard me right.
Start off leash, but in your home.
And yes, you will be using treats in the beginning.
Keep the sessions very short for young puppies – just a couple of minutes.
For adults (with attention span) – 5 to 10 minutes.
Add on time as your pup grasps the idea.
Always end on a success.
If your pup is losing it’s ability to focus, or you are getting frustrated, end the session by having your pup do something she can succeed with.
Then stop the session.
How To Do IT
Start with your pup by your side, holding a treat just in front of her nose.
Start walking (just a few steps to begin with – gradually add distance).
Your pup should follow.
The trick is to hold the treat so she isn’t trying to jump at it. Just walking.
Tell her Yes! (Be enthusiastic and upbeat)
Give her the treat.
Add a name. Heel, walk nice, right here, pancakes. Whatever word you want to give this walking at your side. Be consistent.
When This Becomes Easy
Take the off leash training to the backyard (or other quiet space if you don’t have a backyard).
Repeat the how to do it section.
There will be some distractions outside.
This is good practice for her to pay attention. It will make it easier to transition to your neighborhood.
When She Has Got It
Introduce the leash.
Let her smell it, check it out.
Clip it to her collar.
Practice the How To Do It section.
Anytime your pup does her own thing or charges ahead of you, turn the opposite direction and give her the length of the leash as room to follow you.
If she is refusing to come with you, hold a little pressure on the leash.
As soon as she gives in to the pressure (leash goes slack), tell her Yes! And give her a treat.
Repeat as necessary.
Alternatively, you can turn into her when you turn in the opposite direction (If she walks to your left, turn left).
She has to pay attention and turn with you.
Added benefit – she learns that you protect her rather than leaving her to defend against anything she decides is scary.
To be able to walk with a loose leash and your dog by your side.
To phase out the treats.
When you are comfortable, take the walk outside in a calm location.
Graduate to busier areas when she is ready.
Don’t forget to give her places where she can sniff and do her business on a very loose leash.
Give this “social time” a name. Go smell, be free, check your p-mail. Whatever word(s) you want. Be consistent.
When it’s time to walk by your side again, use the word you gave this, reel in any leash that is too long, and off you go.
As a side note, a front clip harness is great for training a calm, relaxed walk. It prevents choking and has the added advantage of having the dog turn toward you when she gets to the end of her leash. The one highlighted above fits even hard to fit dogs and comes with a seat belt buckle.
An alternate leash you can try for a dog who likes to grab and chew the leash while walking, is one that has chain where your dog likes to grab.
Having trouble with it? Leave me a comment. I’ll do my best to help.
Live, Love, Bark,