Leash walking is one of the more challenging skills to teach a dog.  That’s largely because the human on the other end of the leash is 50% of the problem.  Here are some good leash handling practices to put into practice now so you can start enjoying your walks with Fido. woman-892309_640

  1. Throw away those retractable leashes – they teach dogs to pull and they’re dangerous!  Invest in a 6-foot leash that is comfortable when folded in your hand. 
  2. Use a flat buckle collar or martingale collar.  For seriously strong pullers, or if you need some physical relief during the training  process, try one of the front-clip walking harnesses on the market.  Choke chains and prong collars are not necessary and can do more harm than good.
  3. Leash training takes practice and patience.  So don’t try to walk more than one dog at a time. 
  4. Carry potent treats on your walks – freeze dried liver works well.  Or, walk your dog before a meal using some of his kibble.
  5. Pick a side for your dog to walk on and stick to it.  Everyone who walks the dog should use the same side. 
  6. Keep your leash arm neutral – don’t pull back or create more tension on the leash.  Remember, your dog’s pulling is only half of the problem.
  7. Stop walking a straight line.  Add frequent right turns, left turns, 360s, U-turns, zig-zags and even take a few steps backwards.  Add a cue like “Let’s Go” every time you change direction.
  8. Pay attention to your dog and reward him by your pant seam when he’s not pulling.  A slight “J” in the leash is ideal.
  9. Have your dog “Sit” and wait for your release (“OK”) to earn sniff opportunities or greet people along the way.
  10. Work with a reward-based professional trainer if you need help putting leash walking skills in place.