Our puppies and canine companions cannot remain confined indoors indefinitely. They have an inherent need to venture outside and satisfy their curiosity. Thus, it can sometimes be a challenge to keep pace with our dogs. This is where leash walking comes in But, it’s a skill – one that pet parents cultivate over time. If you're just embarking on your dog's leash-walking journey and encountering some difficulties, fret not, you’re not alone.
Presented here is a concise yet comprehensive guide to leash walking, featuring fundamental tips for dog walk training. Our aim is to equip you and your four-legged friend for safer and more enjoyable walks together.
The Significance of Choosing the Right Leash
At Sploot, we firmly believe that a dog leash is much more than a mere piece of fabric attached to your dog's harness. It serves as a vital tool for ensuring your dog's safety at all times. It acts as a connection between you and your dog as you venture outdoors, symbolizing trust and conveying the message, "I'm here with you, and I've got your back."
This is precisely why selecting the appropriate leash before embarking on leash walking is of utmost importance. Various types of leashes cater to different walking scenarios:
- Nylon leashes: Lightweight, comfortable, and easy to handle.
- Leashes with padded handles: Prevent blisters on your hands.
- Double leashes for handling two dogs: Ideal for managing multiple dogs during walks.
But, we recommend using a dog harness instead of a collar for walking your dog, and here's why:
- It doesn't exert pressure on your dog's neck.
- It evenly distributes your dog's body weight while walking.
- It's designed to withstand the force of strong pulling on the leash.
What's less known is that choosing the right leash and harness is crucial even before initiating leash training. Your dog's astute mind associates all their walking experiences with a particular leash. Additionally, you can consider having different leashes for various purposes like regular walks, hikes, and trips. This can offer valuable insights into how your dog forms associations with their belongings.
The Importance of Leash Training for Your Dog
Why is leash training necessary for our dogs? Why can't we simply attach a leash and start walking them? The answer lies in understanding that a leash plays a pivotal role in your dog's safety during outdoor excursions. It serves as a barrier, preventing them from entering perilous situations such as straying onto busy roads, chasing other animals, or losing their way.
Beyond safety, a leash serves as a means of communication between you and your dog. Every subtle nudge or tug on the leash conveys a message, and with practice, your dog will learn to understand these cues. During walks, you have an excellent opportunity to reinforce positive behaviors, fostering mutual trust. Moreover, it provides an outlet for your dog to release pent-up energy and engage in much-needed mental stimulation.
We recommend that your pet always wears an updated and personalized ID tag on their harness before going for a walk. You will find these tags on each & every sploot's leashes.
Introducing Your Dog to the Leash
If your puppy or dog has never encountered a leash before, it's essential not to skip this crucial step. Allow your dog to familiarize themselves with the leash by using their inquisitive sense of smell. Let them play with it and become comfortable with its presence. Once they're at ease, reward them with plenty of dog treats, associating positive emotions with the leash.
The next step involves attaching the leash to your dog's harness and letting them drag it around at home for short intervals. Reward them with treats again once they've adapted to the slight weight of the leash. This process helps them acclimate to having something attached to them while enabling them to explore their surroundings freely.
Preventing Your Dog from Biting the Leash
Now that your dog is comfortable with the leash, it's time for leash walking. Here are some fundamental leash-walking tips to commence your journey:
1. Choose Your Path Wisely
During training, distractions such as squirrels, cars, or cats can easily divert your dog's attention. For your initial leash walk, opt for a serene, low-distraction area. This setting will help your furry friend stay focused and better comprehend your commands.
2. Be Mindful of the Weather
Weather conditions can significantly impact your dog's receptiveness to training. During hot summers, schedule leash training sessions during cooler parts of the day, such as early mornings or late evenings. Always carry your dog's drinking water and treats when heading out for walks.
3. Start Slow, Progress Gradually
Keep your initial leash walking sessions brief, depending on your dog's response. If your dog appears disinterested, allow them to relax and attempt another session on a different day. As your canine companion becomes more comfortable walking beside you on the leash, gradually extend the length and frequency of your walks. Your dog's unique personality, energy levels, and health can influence the course of your sessions.
4. Employ a Short Leash Until You're Confident
Dogs and puppies often yearn to explore independently and may wander off, posing a safety risk. While a long leash provides more freedom, a short leash enables better control over your dog's movements, keeping them close. Some leashes even feature a quick restraint handle for added grip during emergencies. Ensure the leash handle is kept short but not overly tight to prevent discomfort for your dog.
5. Avoid Excessive Leash Pulling
It's normal for dogs to pull on the leash occasionally. However, it's crucial not to pull too hard, as this can lead to your dog forming a negative association with leashes from an early age. The goal of leash training is to enable your dog to explore safely while maintaining control.
Stay relaxed during walks, as your dog can sense your energy. If your dog pulls on the leash, cease walking immediately. Change direction and start walking in a different path. Employ treats to redirect your dog's attention and communicate the message: "Instead of pulling on the leash, join me, and you'll be rewarded with something more enticing—treats!"
6. Reward Your Dog with Abundant Treats
Positive reinforcement is a tried-and-tested method for teaching your dog while showering them with affection, ultimately strengthening the bond between you. Reward your dog with treats and praise when they exhibit desired behavior, encouraging them to walk contentedly by your side. Avoid punishing your dog for mistakes, as opting for a kinder approach not only enhances the training experience but also fortifies your beautiful bond with your dog.
7. Exercise Patience
Remember that mastering leash walking is a gradual process, and it's natural to encounter challenges along the way. Developing mutual understanding and a rhythm while walking your dog on a leash takes time. Although it may be occasionally frustrating and time-consuming, it's essential to maintain a calm and consistent approach to training.
Dogs perceive and respond to our energies and emotions, so maintaining composure is key. During outdoor excursions, allow your dog to indulge their sense of smell by exploring their surroundings. Sniffing is a valuable mental exercise that engages your dog's mind and allows them to discover the world around them. Just 10 minutes of sniffing can be equivalent to an hour of excessive exercise.