After first covering crate training little Fido should now be ready to go for a walk. As with all training there are various ways to achieve dog leash training. There is the ‘alpha dog’ approach, positive reinforcement, and many other opinions on how to get the best behavior out of your dog. Before you get overwhelmed just remember that the end result is to get your dog to behave how you want. How you achieve this is determined by both you and your pet’s personality.
Before you start make sure you have all of the right equipment. There are various collars out there to choose from so finding one that works for you and your dog should not be a problem. Just be sure it is fit correctly. For standard collars the general rule is it should only be tight enough to fit two fingers underneath. You also need a suitable leash. The leash should be long enough to allow a bit of slack when your dog is walking comfortably by your side but not too long that she has free reign. Lastly you are going to want to have plenty of their favorite treats available and a method to mark good behavior. This can be done with a clicker or just a strong ‘yes’.
Ideally you want your dog walking by your side and a little behind without pulling. No one enjoys a walk where you are constantly doing a dance to keep from getting tangled in the leash. At first it might be necessary to lure your furry friend to where you want them with tiny treats. Be sure to mark the good behavior with either your clicker or a positive word. Once you start forming the habit you should be able to only lead her on with treats every few steps lengthening the distance you reward with a treat as you go along. The goal is to get to a point where she is walking by your side without treats.
Having a dog that pulls can be a trying experience as well and makes the walk very unpleasant and frustrating. I’ve seen owners with larger dogs literally dragged down the street while walking their pet. This behavior takes a bit more time to correct but there is hope. With a puppy or more even tempered dog stopping whenever the pulling behavior begins will usually do the trick. As soon as you see her look back to see what is going on you can mark the good behavior and reward with a treat. As soon as the pulling starts again repeat the same steps. This can take a few days but the effort will be worth it in the end and make your walks much more enjoyable.
If you have a more stubborn puller a firmer approach may be needed. First try shortening the leash to give you more control and walking in the opposite direction anytime the pulling happens. Once he submits to following you reward with a treat and mark the behavior. Always be happy to see your dog perform the good behavior. If you are frustrated they will sense it and act accordingly. A different collar may be needed to assist with control such as a head collar or prong collar. If you are still having issues a training class or private lessons from a certified trainer will never hurt.
Your pet is going to be a lifelong friend and starting things out correctly will help that friendship flourish and be memorable in the most positive ways for both of you. Like all relationships they take work to maintain but I guarantee you will both be happier for it. Happy trails.