Leash walking is undoubtedly one of the more frustrating skills for dog guardians everywhere.  And contrary to popular belief, it’s not just the dog.  The human on the other end of the leash is 50% of the problem.  With that in mind, here are some simple leash walking practices YOU can put in place to get started on more enjoyable walks right away. woman-892309_640

10 Changes You Can Make Now for Better Leash Walking

  1. Throw away those retractable leashes because they teach dogs to pull and they’re dangerous!  Invest in a 6-foot leash that is comfortable when folded in your hand. 
  2. If your dog tends to overpower you on walks, invest in one of the front-clip walking harnesses on the market to give you some physical relief while you and your dog learn new skills.  Avoid choke chains and prong collars are not necessary and can do more harm than good.
  3. Avoid walking more than one dog at a time so you can give your undivided attention to the learner. 
  4. Carry potent treats, such as freeze-dried liver, on your walks.  Or, walk your dog before a meal using some of his kibble.
  5. Pick a preferred side for your dog to walk on and reward him whenever he is next to your pant seam.  Everyone who walks the dog should use the same side. 
  6. Keep your leash arm neutral – don’t pull back or create more tension on the leash.  Remember, your dog’s pulling is only half of the problem.
  7. Stop walking predictable straight lines.  Frequent directional changes will keep your dog more engaged with you.
  8. Pay attention to your dog so you can reward him for snippets of more desirable behavior such as slack in the leash or checking in with you.
  9. Allow your dog to earn non-food rewards as well.  Distractions such as sniff opportunities or saying hi to favorite friend are both good ways to change it up.  Just make sure he is not pulling you to get there. 
  10. Acquiring reliable leash manners takes practice and patience.  Stay the course and be sure to celebrate the small successes along the way!