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How to Train Your Dog to Walk Nicely on a Leash: Practical Tips and Techniques

Going for a walk for the first time in a while is exciting. It’s so exciting that your dog is going to want to investigate everything. This is going to lead to lots of pulling and lots of bouncing from one direction to the other. All of this can be very hard to physically handle for people and then it quickly leads to a lot of frustration. This generally results in the walks ending for a while. And then when it’s attempted again people are quickly reminded why they stopped.

If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. It’s an extremely common cycle that many of us fall into. So what should you do? Just grit your teeth and hold on for dear life? Should you just give up? Is your dog not capable of walking nicely?

Teaching your dog to walk in a more manageable way is definitely doable. The first step is going to be getting into a routine. I recommend dedicating 20-30 minutes each day to working towards your goal. The second step is to use a piece of equipment that will help reduce your dog’s leverage. A front attaching harness is very helpful. (We like the Freedom Harness.) Now that you’ve got your dog in a helpful harness and you’ve dedicated 20 minutes each day, you’re ready to get started.

Days 1-5 will be easiest to do inside your home. Have your dog in their harness and walk around your home and feed your dog treats for tagging along. Try to feed your dog those treats on one side of your body. (This will help your dog build a bias towards being on one side.) As your dog is getting the hang of it you’ll be ready to increase the steps you take between giving rewards. Before long you’ll be taking 10-20 steps before giving a treat. After practicing for a few days you’ll be ready to move outside.

Days 6-10 involves starting off in the most boring part of your yard. For the first day or two you’ll want to give your dog a few minutes to sniff around. After that, you’ll be ready to try to pick up where you left off inside. Be prepared that your dog may be too distracted to pick up right where you left off. You’ll likely need to feed more frequently at first. You may even need to walk backwards so you’re facing your dog and feed. As long as you continue to stick to the same part of your yard though you’ll see your dog start to look similar to how they looked inside. As you see that happening you’ll be ready to move to another part of your yard that has slightly more going on in it. As you’re approaching days 9 and 10 you’ll likely be able to walk all around your yard while your dog pays a good amount of attention to you.

Day 11 is where you’ll be ready to hit the road. When you do this, you’re going to want to make it look similar to what it looked like inside your home and out in your yard. So instead of walking straight down the road, be a bit unpredictable and change directions. You’ll want to only move forward in a direction if the leash is loose. And if the leash does tighten, get your dog’s attention back and then try to keep moving. Be prepared that early on you’ll need to feed more frequently to help keep your dog’s attention.

After about 2 weeks things should look very different and you should be in a much better place where you’re able to get out with your dog and you’re not being pulled all over the place.

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