This article will cover one of the least stressful methods I recommend for leash training your dog and will give you an answer to the question: How to leash train a dog. It is not 100% stress free, but rest assured, it is only mildly stressful in comparison to other ways of doing it. This method also incorporates the dog training golden rule…
– Show them what you want them to do and let them know there is something in it for them.
– We can use this while leash training a dog. Which dog trainer came up with that golden rule I don’t know, but that 19 word statement breathes so much truth into the world of dog training. You now also have the opportunity to choose among top dog leashes available by clicking here. And I’ll tell you why…
– Dogs are the ultimate opportunist. If it benefits THEM, they will almost always do it. It is our job to first show them how to do it and then show them what it is in for them.
What happens after this can cause some disagreements in dog circles. Showing a dog what is in it for them is reward based training. There are a whole lot of people who think you can stop there. And with some dogs you can. We also have a whole lot of people that say almost all dogs will need some level of an aversive at various times to remain reliable.
how to leash train a dog
Believe me, most dogs, especially working dogs, will decide “what is in it for them”, is giving chase. I don’t care if you have prime rib in your pocket and neither will your dog. This overriding urge to chase prey is a genetic holdover from the days before dogs got free meals from people. It is normal.
With he or she on a leash they won’t get to chase, but they sure will get to rehearse PULLING on the leash! When leash training a dog, this is not a good rehearsal. And you definitely should stop dog from pulling on leash.
Police dogs pull on the leash entering the field to do bite work because they see a decoy with equipment. It is all the same thing. I hope that people who handle police dogs read this article about how to leash training a dog. I do believe that you could work this out of some dogs using rewards only, but it would take a lot of repetitions with very good timing.
Here is what I mean about timing. Watch a dog that pulls on the leash wanting to chase cars or one that does the same to chase leaves. The car chaser usually becomes alert when it hears the car, even before he can see it. A leaf chaser often becomes alert whenever there is a gust of wind.
Both sounds predict the opportunity to chase what they like to chase. It is associative learning 101. Dogs are masters at it. So your job, if you were to continue leash training a dog with rewards only, would be to call and reward your dog each time he or she notices the sound of an approaching car or wind gust. You have to nip it in the bud in other words. If you do this right and long enough, some dogs will always turn to you when they hear a car or a gust of wind. Many will not because the thrill of chasing overrides a free meal.
leash training a puppy
1. First Step for Leash Training Your Dog
Develop a reward marker. A reward marker is nothing more than a word or a sound that predicts, well, a reward! The easiest reward to start with is food. The type of food you will be using for your puppy leash training should have value to your dog. (By the way, when we said this about puppies, we also recommend that you read our article “How to raise a puppy” if you have problems raising your puppy…) And, back to our article about how to leash train a dog… What I mean by “value”…
Does he or she REALLY want it or does he or she acts like they have a “take it or leave it” attitude toward it? Most people know what their dog’s favorite snack is. If you do, use that if it is easily consumed. Mine loves cheese for example. Try cheese if you don’t know.
The size of the food reward you will be using does of course depend, to a degree, on the size of your dog. What is most important is how fast they can consume it. We don’t want to be waiting around for more than a second or two while our canine chews and swallows the food reward. However, sometimes the dog is aggressive to food. In such cases read how to cope with dog food aggression…
It makes sense that it will be soft enough and small enough for them to eat and be right back at you for another one. Don’t go too small though, remember, it is a reward. How to hold the food reward for leash training your dog…
You need to think just like a dog to understand how to leash train a dog. Here is something you can try… Sitting or standing, turn your palms towards your face. Now extend your thumbs. Now curl your thumbs back to your hands. See that little pocket created between your thumb and your hand? That is where you want to hold the food reward. If you try to give your canine a food reward while holding it at the tips of your fingers, there is a good chance of injury.
Training leash for dogs is easy if you are a stubborn. Hold the dog reward in that pocket you create when you curl your thumb back to your hand. To let him access the reward just extend your thumb a little as he pushes into your hand with his nose. You now know the type and size of your food reward. You also know how to hold it properly to avoid injury if your canine is very food motivated. You know how to let him or her access the reward. Your next step will be to decide on a word or a sound that will come just prior to you allowing your canine to access the reward from your hand. Your canine does not care what it is, go with something positive to the human mind. I like “Yes” and so do many people using this system.
The goal is simply to make your word or sound of choice predict the delivery of a food reward. It is very easy to do. We can make it especially easy if we do it at meal time when your dog is most hungry. With a piece of the food you chose in your hand and 20 or 30 more at your disposal, get your dogs attention with your voice. As soon as he or she even so much as looks at you, say “Yes”and present the food reward.
If the movement of your hand is not enough to trigger your dog to come investigate what you have the first few times, quickly walk backwards as you present the food reward. Don’t forget to make sure there is nothing behind you to trip over!
So here is the formula:
– Get your dogs attention with your voice.
– Dog looks at you or starts toward you.
– You “mark” that moment by saying “Yes”.
– You present the food reward and walk backwards if necessary.
– Repeat 20 or 30 times.
A couple of sessions like this and you will have classically conditioned your dog to access a reward from YOU every time he or she hears the word “Yes”.
Two important things.
Only mark the moment ONCE by saying “Yes” ONCE when your dog responds to your voice.
Make sure you say “Yes” a split second before you move your hand or body to present the reward.
With this classical conditioning comes great power in leash training your dog…
What if every time your dog were to go with the leash in the direction you pulled and it was followed by you saying “Yes”and giving her a reward?
Is the light bulb on yet!?
2. Second Step for Leash Training A Dog
Now that you have conditioned a reward marker in your dog, you have a way to communicate with him or her to let them know they are doing exactly what you want. Plus you have a way to let them know there is something in it for them.
Step 2 is where the mild stress comes in and here is why. In this step you will learn how to leash train a dog easy as we are going to teach the dog that if they give to the leash they will hear their reward marker and be rewarded. The problem is most dogs, at first, want to resist going with the leash. In dog training terms what we are about to teach the dog is referred to as “escape” training. We turn on the pressure by pulling on the leash, the dog then has to escape the pressure by going with the leash.
how to leash train a puppy
To make this step go as fast as possible I recommend the use of a puppy pinch collar. I did it with a flat collar for a client once that was absolutely against pinch collars. It takes longer, but you get a great arm work out!
So with the collar of choice on your dog and a six foot leash attached, put your dog in a sit in front of you, if he or she knows it. If they don’t know sit just stand there and be boring until your dog starts to pay attention to anything, but you.
Once either of these occur slowly and steadily pull on the leash in a straight line, horizontal to the ground, at a height even with your dog’s collar. Don’t say anything and don’t move your body. Just pull, pull, pull until your dog gives to the leash. Once they move in the direction of your pull say “Yes”, drop the leash, reach into your pocket and present the tasty treat reward. Remember, it is normal if your dog tries to hunker down and resist. Dogs have a normal opposition reflex to a leash, so sometimes training dog to walk on leash could take some time…
With a few sessions like this, you are well on your way to learn how to leash train a dog. Once your dog starts to get it you should rehearse the drill from several different angles. Think 360 degrees. You don’t have to do all 360, but you know what I mean. Move around in relation to your dog position so they get a feel for the training at different locations held by you.
3. Third Step for Leash Training Your Dog
So far we have laid the groundwork far above the level that most dog trainers in the world will teach you when leash training your dog. There is a way to do it for the money and there is a way to do it for the dog.
Now that we have our dog eager to go with the leash because we have taught them “there is something in it for them” we need to add a humane way of enforcing it when or if they regress.
There are two reasons for my preference.
One is when I went to my first academy for police dogs in 1993 the instructor drilled it into our heads that a leash correction should be a quick pop at a level that fits the mistake by the dog. The “nick” button on electronic dog collars allows us to do just that since it is a micro burst of electricity and we can dial the intensity up or down to fit the level of the crime. Also, you can learn more about Bark control collars that might be useful too.
The other is that the “continuous” button is great for escape training and aligns perfectly with the leash pressure training in Step 2 above. Instead of pull, pull, pull think continuous, continuous, continuous.
Bringing these two worlds together is exactly what Step 3 is all about. Thinking pull, pull, pull should make you realize that the level you set for “continuous” does not have to be anywhere near as high as it would be if you are correcting your dog with the “nick” button. Find your minimum “nick” level as I explained in that article. Cut that in half, at minimum, to set your “continuous” button level. As with the “nick”, test it as inconspicuously as possible.
leash training a dog
Now you have an even better physical signal or “help” to remind your dog to go in the direction you pull. It is better because you will not need to pull as hard during your dog’s continuous education of leash training. You also now have the option to switch to the “nicK” button at a higher level to correct your dog for pulling or wanting to chase without risking injury to his or her neck. In closing let me give you another one of those useful dog training tips. Also, don’t forget to check if your dog mastered the dog training basics. You don’t have to forever mark the moment your dog goes with the leash. This could be very annoying on daily walks. Who wants to have a pocket full of dog treats just to go for a walk?
Do this instead to training dog on leash. Every time you feed your dog his or her regular meal say “good” or “good job” two or three times as they are eating. In no time at all your dog will associate “good” with food and of course, the good feeling that goes with it. You can use “Good” a majority of the time on your walks instead of marking every success with “Yes” and feeding. Carry just a couple of treats to randomly say “Yes” to keep your dog sharp.
We at Dog Training Kingdom hope you find our article about leash training a dog useful as we always strive to help dog owners take good care of their pets and give you suggestions and dog training tips to achieve this. You can choose the perfect leash for your dog here. And don’t forget that if you know somebody that still don’t know how to leash train a dog, you should definitely show him our article. Thank you for your visit and your time to read it.