Now that the weather is getting warmer, many dog owners are starting to take their dogs for longer walks again. Most dogs love going on walks and most people enjoy it, too. But it’s not fun if the walk turns into a tug of war between you and your dog. In fact, if you have a large dog it can be dangerous. Even if you have a small dog, constant tugging on the leash means your dog needs to learn basic leash manners. Let’s go over basic training tips for getting your dog to walk calmly by your side during walks.
Before you go on the walk, be sure you have the appropriate equipment. Your dog’s collar or harness should fit properly for their comfort and safety. The leash should be strong enough to restrain your dog if they tug hard. Be sure to have a pocket full of treats to reward good behavior. Finally, choose which side of you prefer your dog to walk.
Walking without pulling
If (or when) your dog starts tugging on the leash, stop moving forward. Command your dog to sit. Once they have sat for a moment, reward them with a treat or praise. Then, continue walking. If your dog remains calm at your side, offer them another treat or praise to reinforce the concept that walking by your side is good behavior. If your dog continues to tug ahead, repeat the process.
Walking by your side
Although some dogs are content to walk behind or in front of their owner without tugging, the preferred manner of walking your dog is when they are by your side. Again, remember to choose a side that is most comfortable with you and then stick with it. Keep the leash short enough to keep your dog at your side. After every few steps of proper side-by-side walking, give your dog a treat and praise. Next, increase the distance you walk between treats until your dog learns to walk by your side without a treat. Once this occurs, you should be able to walk your dog with some slack on the leash.
It is completely natural for your dog to investigate smells and to mark territory during walks. Allow your dog time to “stop and smell the roses”; but use this time as a reward and be sure these brief pauses happen on your time, say, about every five minutes. At each interval, say something like, “go sniff” or “go potty” and then give them enough slack to allow them to do that. However, if they pull, say, “let’s go” and walk in the opposite direction. Then repeat as necessary.
What techniques do you use to make sure your dog walks by your side and doesn’t tug on the leash? Tell us on Facebook!