Teach your dog to walk on a loose leash
Are you also tired of your dog pulling on the leash? Then the following tips are the perfect read for you! We will help you teach your dog to walk on a loose leash. With the help of our tips, you will have the job done in no time. A nice and relaxed walk with your four-legged friend is now also your reality!
Why does my dog pull on the leash?
That your dog pulls on the leash is not without reason. It is important to realize for what reason your dog pulls so much on the walk.
There are several reasons but we can categorize them into 4 main ones:
Your dog is sitting with some pent up energy. This pent up energy could be because your dog didn't have an outlet or he never learned how to deal with his energy properly. Because of that pent up energy you get an overexcited dog, where you don't stand a chance if he commands something.
Tip: the solution to this? Play with your dog for 15 minutes before you go for a walk.
Your dog knows it is working
This is actually one of the most common reasons... Your dog simply knows that if he pulls on his leash, he can maintain his own walking pace and that this way he will reach the place he wants to go faster.
As a reaction to an emotion
Your dog has a reaction to the environment - this can be both positive and negative. For example, they pass a place where they have once been frightened very hard, then they prefer to pass by that place as quickly as possible to get away. Or they see another dog, and pull towards it to play. Notice how your dog loses his focus in such situations? Then distract them with a treat. That way you, the owner, have their full attention and you can pass by that one specific spot.
Fright or stress
If you come into a new environment, then there is a chance that your dog experiences stress and pulls to find a safe place as quickly as possible.
Walking on the loose leash
The purpose of walking on a loose leash is that your dog maintains the same pace as you. Walking this way is the most pleasant for both you and your dog since there is no tension on his collar.
There are no written rules concerning where exactly your dog must walk, some people have gladly that their dog walks beside their side whereas others have no preference at all in this. There is no right or wrong in this case.
But let us nevertheless clear up a persistent misunderstanding. If your dog walks in front of you, this does not mean that your dog feels 'above you'. Because did you know that in their packs, it is perfectly normal for the leader to walk all the way behind? This way they have an easy overview of the pack. So don't worry if your dog walks ahead of you, but of course the leash must remain relaxed at all times.
How do you obtain that loose leash?
The main reason why your dog pulls on the leash is because they have lost contact with their owner. Therefore, practice mainly in paying attention to each other and preferably doing that yourself without a leash!
Go to a safe and enclosed field and lure your dog with a treat and an enthusiastic voice.
Tip: never give a tug on the leash when your dog pulls. Many owners have this as a reaction but it does not work! In fact... it makes the pulling even worse. Keep your leash relaxed at all times. Does your dog still pull on the leash? Stand still and only continue when he releases the tension.
Step-by-step plan for walking without pulling on the leash:
Find a safe, enclosed field where there are as few distractions as possible and make sure you are provided with your dog's favorite snacks (make sure you have enough with you)
Take your dog on a leash, give a start signal (such as 'yes' or 'walk') and begin your walk. Reward your dog when he walks with you (without pulling on the leash of course)
Keep walking in circles or back and forth. Still reward your dog if he continues to follow you.
Is your dog pulling on the leash? Then stop walking immediately. Make sure your dog releases the tension on the leash and then step back on.
If this works in the 'distraction-free environment'. Then go step by step to environments with more distractions walking
Once you can manage to walk without pulling in the new environment, it is time to switch back to more challenging environments.
How long does it take for your dog to walk on a loose leash?
It can take quite a while to teach a dog to do this. Especially for puppies who have yet to discover the world, it can be a real chore.
1 golden rule: Train regularly, be consistent but keep it short!
Training sessions should not last longer than 5 minutes each time (best also 2 to 3 sessions per day). The more you practice, the faster you will see results. Take some time during your walk to train this. Sufficient patience is a good virtue, because an angry or frustrated boss will not help your dog during his training!
Sidenote: You have a faster chance of success in teaching a puppy than a senior dog of 8 years. Which is not to say that it is impossible to teach an older dog to pull on a leash. The message remains again that you need a lot of patience and practice, you are training to unlearn 8 years of "pulling history" of course!
Harness or leash?
The eternal dilemma. You have advocates of the leash and you have advocates of the harness. But where is the difference?
A collar says it all: a band that only goes around your dog's neck. The advantage of this is that his body is not obstructed while walking. Your dog has thus less chance to get stuck somewhere. The disadvantages of a collar are that there are many vital organs around the neck. If your dog pulls hard on the leash, this can lead to injuries such as damage to the larynx and trachea, headaches and even displaced cervical vertebrae. All the more reason to teach your dog not to pull on the leash of course ;) . The dog harness goes around your dog's chest and thus distributes the pressure your dog feels when he pulls. The disadvantage of the harness is that it can impede your dog's range of motion....
Dogs pull on both types so one or the other does not offer a miraculous solution to stop pulling. So it's best to take what your dog is most comfortable with.
In summary: tips for relaxed walks
Use every possible moment to train your dog
Always make sure that you have enough treats with you during your walks so that you can reward your dog for good behavior
Make sure there are no distractions during your training. In other words, make sure your dog's other needs are met (like peeing, sniffing, playing)
Never punish your dog! Reward good behavior instead. Does your dog not do what you want? Ignore your dog and stand still. Only as soon as he is calm again or does what you ask, go ahead.
Never pull on the leash yourself because this will have the opposite effect!