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The most natural and species-appropriate thing for a dog is to always be able to move and run freely. Unfortunately, this is not always possible for 99% of our four-legged friends, as their current environment poses many threats to their integrity. So that dog and human can still be safe and relaxed together when out and about, being on a leash is an indispensable “have to” when training dogs. In this article, you will learn step by step how to successfully walk your dog on a leash.

This is why walking dogs on a leash is so important

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Whether in the city, village, or country, a leisurely walk on a leash should be a positive and friendly affair for both dogs and humans. Being on a leash is the signal for the dog: My human has everything in view and makes sure that nothing happens to us. I don’t have to worry about anything here. My job is just walking this easy.

How do you train walking on a leash?

In small training units and with loving consistency. Choose a quiet and distraction-free place to start.

The equipment for training how to walk on a leash

A dog’s basic equipment includes a harness, collar, and leash. Already when buying, you should pay attention to the function and effect these aids have on the dog. The dog’s neck is very sensitive and sensitive because it is where the thyroid gland, larynx, cervical vertebrae, connective tissue, and muscles are located. Leading the dog by the collar means leading the dog over the sensitive cervical spine, which can be damaged relatively quickly. If the dog pulls on the leash, a collar puts pressure on the larynx and thyroid gland. In order to escape this unpleasant feeling, the dog pulls even more on the leash – a vicious circle is created.

A chest harness is best suited for training how to walk on a leash and also later in everyday life. A harness should be purchased from a specialist retailer with advice and always tried on the dog to check that it is properly seated. What has no place in training for leash handling is a flexi leash. If at all, a flexi-leash can occasionally be used for already well-leashed dogs. Even so-called pull-stop leashes are not suitable for training how to walk on the leash.

The ideal leash for a dog and owner is a so-called leash, which can be shortened from two meters to one meter. This type of leash is not only perfect for leash training, but also the most suitable for getting through everyday life.

How do I get my dog not to pull on the leash?

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Try to keep your dog’s attention on you at all times. A few treats in the bag are helpful.

Train your dog to walk on a leash – step by step

Leash training begins with the four-legged friend perceiving both the harness and the leash as something positive. So feel free to feed treats in the shop when trying out the right harness and thus connect the changing of the harness with something positive for the dog. You should continue to do this later at home. Likewise, putting on the leash should be trained with a positive connection.

Step 1: Signal situation mode “on a leash”.

So that your dog later understands when he should walk next to you on the leash, you set a word when you start training on leash handling that signals to your dog “now I have to walk properly and disciplined next to my human”. For example, this could be the word “Foot” or “Bey”. At the same time, you should also think of a word that signals to him that he can also move a little more loosely on the leash. He then knows that he is no longer in “foot” mode, but can also move in front of or behind you. For example, you can choose the word “Loose” for this mode.

Step 2: Undisturbed environment, defined area, and short training intervals

As with anything new that you want your dog to learn, begin leash training in an undisturbed, distraction-free environment that the dog is familiar with. Putting on the harness and leash is positively reinforced with effusive praise or treats. Decide beforehand in which area you want to do the exercise. It is a good idea to imagine a 5×5 meter square on the ground, on the outer lines of which you can practice walking the dog on the leash.

Step 3: Make sure that the training sessions are not too long

Puppies and young dogs in particular are quickly overwhelmed if the training takes too long. Start with a training interval of 5 to a maximum of 10 minutes. It is more effective to do short exercises several times a day than to do long exercises once a day.

Step 4: Demand attention

The dog’s concentration should lie with its human while walking on the leash. To train this, you can use treats to help. Position yourself on the right side of your dog so that he is on your left. Hold the leash loosely in your right hand and the treat in your left hand. Now address your dog in a friendly manner by its name and give it the command you have chosen, for example, “foot”, and take the first step forward with your left leg. So the leg that is closest to your dog. With this, you support the impulse to run with you. When he starts moving at the same height as you, reward the action with a treat from your left hand in the same second and praise him enthusiastically for it.

Step 5: Go straight

Now try to walk the first 5 meters of the outline of your imaginary square using the combination of demanding attention, giving treats, verbally praising, and moving forward. The dog should always move at your level, i.e. neither run forward nor fall back. Now train in the first exercise interval, these 5 meters go straight ahead again and again.

When should I start walking on the leash?

Walking the dog on a leash is part of basic obedience and should be taught playfully as early as puppies.

Step 6: Change of direction

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If the first five meters on the line work, your dog is easy to lead and stays with you, you can change direction. If you lead your dog on your left side, you should first practice changing direction to the right. This way you don’t have to “run into” your dog and it’s easier for him to follow you. Now walk the first 5 meters straight ahead, speak to your dog briefly, then turn to the right and hold the treat in front of his nose while turning so that he automatically follows the turn. If that goes well, praise, give treats and walk another 5 meters on the imaginary line of the square before the next change of direction. Going straight and changing direction are to be carried out in a flowing sequence of movements, just as you will later be out and about with him on the street.

Step 7: Increase the requirements step by step

If everything goes well, you can start practicing in places where there is more distraction for the dog. But be careful not to overwhelm your dog. Then go back a bit with the training session, if you prefer, and build up the leash training more slowly. If the training is going well, you can gradually start reducing the treats as a reward and make the distance longer until you change direction.

Why is the dog pulling on the leash?

There can be several reasons for this: Stress. Uncertainty. Something else is more interesting than its human. Or because he hasn’t yet learned to walk loosely on a leash.

Common problems and difficulties with walking on a leash

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If your dog runs in front of you or falls behind, say his name to get his attention and then your command to walk on the leash. He now has the chance to react on his own. If the dog doesn’t obey, change direction. You do this until your dog regains his undivided attention. Be careful not to pull or jerk the dog’s body too much!

With older dogs, it can happen that a new signal word has to be chosen in order to train how to walk on the leash. Often the existing word that he was “brought up” already has such a negative connotation for him that it makes more sense to choose a new word and train it with a positive upbringing method.