Whether walking a small dog, an energetic puppy who wraps his leash around your ankles, or a dog whose stride is twice your own, all scenarios have their challenges. Regardless of size, weight or energy level, every dog can test his limits on the leash. Claiming your place as the handler is best when established when your dog is a puppy. However, contrary to popular belief, old dogs can learn new tricks.
Walking a dog that is half your own size, with a walk that is more of a gallop, can prove challenging even after successful leash training. Without leash training, and regular walks any hound with pent up energy can present a hassle. Walking a dog is an excellent exercise for the owner and pup alike, so if you’re ready to start reigning in the leash on your out-of-control, leash-tugging canine, we have the steps to get you there.
Start your leash training within the confines of a fenced containment system. This limits the distractions and allows your dog to focus better on the lesson at hand. He’ll be able to latch on to the basics before he is asked to obey while also being tempted by sights, sounds and smells outside his normal environment.
Place your dog in a seated position at your side. This is a good place to start because it helps to focus your dog’s attention on you. Plus, you can be the one to start the activity rather than the walk being something the dog has already started and is now dragging you into.
As you step off give a verbal command like “Heel” or “Let’s Go!” You may also want to include a hand gesture such as bending your arm at the elbow so that your hand moves from your side to your shoulder. This gesture may come in handy if you need to call Fido from a distance, if you want to train without a lead, or if your dog has any hearing impairments.
Walk at a normal pacee, and feel free to talk to your dog. Let him know he is being an obedient boy.
After a short distance, stop. Place your dog back in a seated position.
Repeat, but keep the lessons short and frequent. Leash training in five to 10 minute intervals several times a day keeps it fun.
Beyond the Basics: When Fido has the gist, test his skills with a few turns, pace changes, maybe even a complete about-face and praise him for keeping up with you. If he wonders (physically or mentally) you can re-acquire his attention by saying his name or a command like “Come”, or “Heel.”
A few compromises may also work well. The stride and high energy of a young Labrador, make an excellent jogging partner, while elderly dogs or smaller breeds may be happier with slow, gentle walks.
Dr. Susan Wright, DVM, has been providing quality care for family pets as a veterinarian for more than 10 years. Dr. Wright is a expert and author. In her free time, Susan enjoys writing articles, giving helpful tips and proper care advice to dog owners.