I was walking through a local pet store the other day, and out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of someone flying by, arm extended, out of control heading down one of the aisles! I suppressed a smile and went over to help! Does this scenario sound familiar? Walking nicely on a dog leash is not only one of the most important lessons you can teach your dog, it is really not very difficult. Not only does it enhance your relationship with your dog, because your walks together are much more enjoyable, but walking nicely can also prevent damage to his or her throat, caused by the constant pressure of jerking when pulling or running to the end of the leash! Teaching your dog to walk nicely on dog leash is fairly simple, if you make the effort. Think of your dog’s leash as a safety harness instead of a tool to control him or her. It should be slack, hanging loosely in a “U” shape. Make sure you keep slack in the leash so your dog does not get the idea that tension is normal. Start with your dog sitting on the side in which you want them to walk. If you walk with your dog on the left side, hold the dog leash in your right hand and healthy dog treats in your left. For walking your dog on the right side, hold the dog leash in your left hand and pet treats in your right. You want the treats on the side you are walking your dog to keep them from crossing over in front of you to get treats. Say “Let’s Go”, and take a step forward, starting with the foot on the side your dog is on. Give your dog a treat every few steps at first, as long as the dog leash is loose. Remember to praise your dog along the way, letting him know he is doing well! Once your dog gets the idea that being close to this incredible dog treat dispensing machine is rewarding, you can slowly start to increase the number of steps between dog treats. You will eventually be able to fade the dog treats out entirely. Despite all your efforts, there are times when your dog will forge ahead to the end of the dog leash and start pulling toward a distraction. There are several positive steps you can take to help prevent this:
- As your dog starts to forge ahead, say “Let’s Go”, and head in the opposite direction before he or she reaches the end of the leash.
- Using healthy dog treats, lure your dog past the distraction by placing a dog treat right in front of the dog’s nose. The more tempting the distraction, the more valuable the pet treat used.
- Become a tree. Just stop and wait for your dog to loosen the tension in the dog leash. As soon as the tension is loose, praise your dog and begin walking again.
Remember, teaching your dog to walk nicely on a leash is not only important, but may save their life some day! Happy walking!