Walking with Your Fur Buddy: Tips for Leash-Training Your Dog

By: Laura Sutherland | 

Ah, the simple pleasure of taking a nice long walk with your fur buddy! Or is it not so pleasurable?

Such a simple and necessary activity is less than ideal if “Max” isn’t leash trained. Here are some easy tips to rein in Max’s exuberance on the walk.

First, nothing is going to change until your dog learns that YOU hold all the cards. And by cards, I mean treats. There’s only one thing Max needs to know up front: Staying focused on YOU brings a great reward.

Begin by teaching Max to make eye contact with you. Put him on-leash in the house, and every time he makes eye contact, say “GOOD!” Treat him with something really yummy as a reward.

After he’s mastered this, start walking Max around the house on a loose leash. In your right hand, hold the leash’s handle; in your left, hold the leash’s middle part. This keeps Max walking on your left side. (If you’re more comfortable holding with the opposite hands and having him on the other side, that’s OK!)

When Max starts to pull, stop moving and act like a tree. No need to say anything. Hold the leash handle close to your chest. AS SOON as Max turns to look at you, say “GOOD” or “good boy,” take two steps back, and lure him to you with a treat. When he reaches you, praise him again, pat his head and give the treat. Start to walk again. As soon as he pulls, repeat the above step.

Once he’s mastered this in the house, take him outside and do the same thing.

If Max does not turn to you when you stop and act like a tree, wait until the leash slackens slightly and praise him then. This will get his focus back on you. Lure him to you first by showing and then giving him the treat.

If Max doesn’t slacken the leash, silently “reel” yourself toward him using hand-over-hand motions. When you’re at him, lure him with a treat to start walking in the opposite direction. If Max starts to look at you as you are reeling, stop, praise him, and lure him back to you. Once he’s come back, have him sit and start over from ground zero.

I’ve found frequent direction changes, along with consistent praise and treats when there is eye contact, quickly gets you the walking behavior you seek.

The caveat? You must be consistent. Before you and Max can enjoy that long walk together, you, dear pet-parent, must devote the requisite time to practice, practice, practice. After some training, you’ll have a pup that is indeed a pleasure to walk with anywhere.

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