How to properly walk your dog with a leash

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How to properly walk your dog with a leash

            Regular physical exercise is good for your overall health, your dog’s health and it is very fun. Dog owners enjoy many health and social benefits walking their dog daily or even a few times weekly. You will benefit from improved cardiovascular activities, stronger muscles, low blood pressure and overall physical fitness. Some of these benefits apply to dogs too as obesity is one of the most common illnesses affecting dogs. Health problems associated with obesity i.e cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, liver disease, osteoarthritis can also be prevented by walking your dog regularly. How frequently you should walk your dog can be determined by dog breed, age, size, and level of fitness. Some dogs are active and they require more exercise than others. Nevertheless, all dogs love walks as they want to check out their surroundings, smell the fresh air and interact with their environment.

Note: A dog that is not walked regularly can easily get bored and destructive.

          All dog’s irrespective of age, size, the breed should be taught basic leash skills. You don’t want to go for a walk and end up being dragged around or wrapped up with a leash. Good leash walking skills are very important for your safety and your pet. Here are five basic tips on how to properly walk your dog with a leash.

You will need

  • Treats (for positive enforcement).
  • An appropriate collar to suit your dog size.
  • A leash or a harness with a front clip.

Basic leash walking tips.



Keep your leash training sessions short.

If you just got a new pup or an adult dog that needs to be leash trained, ideally you should keep your training sessions short. For sports training, dogs are trained to stay at the handler’s left side but most dog owners prefer it to their right. So it will depend upon your comfort which one you would like to choose. When training your dog, try to make him stay at one side for safety reasons so he doesn’t trip you over when running back and forth.


Teach your dog to not pull on his leash

To help prevent your dog from pulling his leash, begin by marking your dog’s correct behavior on the leash. Even if he is whirling around, anxious, and moving back and forth there will be moments when he will relax and look at you. Capture this moment when the leash is slacked mark and reward him.

Note: Mark and reward only when he walks calmly. What you are trying to deliver with this behavior is that “Rushing won’t get you anywhere, walking calmly will”

Patience is required as there will be times where he gets excited and forgets his manners, make sure you reward him only when he resumes walking nicely.

 Another approach to help your dog stop pulling his leash is “No forward progress” you stop walking when your dog pulls you towards something. An active dog will quickly notice you playing statue and stop to look at you, the moment the pull is loosened - mark and reward. If your dog pulls his leash again, repeat the action. It may take multiple short sessions to get your dog to stop finally but with adequate consistency, your dog will realize that pulling slows progress.


Teach your dog to walk by your side.

Training your dog to walk by your side is ideal for safety reasons and helps increase the bond you both share.

  • You can start by keeping your leash short since it it will be difficult for him to leave your side. This will give him a picture of where you want him to be.
  • If he understands the picture and stays by your side, you can reward him with treats to help mark that behavior. Give him treats regularly for walking by your side.
  • Increase the distance of walking between treats until he is used to walking by your side.

You should know that training your dog to walk on a leash properly doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be patient and be ready to invest your time and energy to get it right.

Here are some general walk tips every dog owner should know.

Give yourself enough time for walks.

Taking enough time in the mornings is ideal as it will keep you energized for the day’s activities. You can consult your vet to know if your dog’s needs are being met and if you should increase the time you spend walking your dog.

Allow your dog to sniff around for mental stimulation.

A dog walk is more than just a physical exercise - it is the only time they get to explore their environment so give them time to check the flowers, corners, and grasses.

Avoid retractable leashes.

The problem with most retractable leashes is that they don’t give you control over your dog. From the locks to its length, retractable leashes aren’t ideal for new dog owners.

Ask before you approach other dogs.

Just because your dog is friendly doesn’t mean every dog-to-dog meeting will be pleasant. Avoid any risk and accidents by asking the other dog owner before letting your dog approach other dogs.

Bring plenty of water for your dog.

During hot weather or a 30 min walk take along plenty of water for your dog. Dogs have a harder time regulating their temperature than humans; so they have to stay dehydrated.

Have your dog wear the proper form of identification.

Anytime you leave your house with your dog always ensure they wear their ID. We can’t control everything that happens outside, some dogs get lost. Make sure the ID is up to date and it contains important details.

Keep leading even after walks.

Your dog must recognize that you are the head of the pack. Have him wait for you while you hang his leash.

Common strange habit of dogs during walks

Dog peeing during walks.

Dogs are territorial, so peeing is a natural way to mark their territory.

If your dog pees too often you can consult your vet for proper examination.

Lying down and refusing to move.

Your dog could be just tired or hurt. Take time to examine your dog, his paws, and the temperature of the pavement. Give him water and if he doesn’t get up take him to the vet.

Biting on his leash.

He does this because he is so excited that you are taking him out on a walk that the leash becomes a tug-of-war toy. Stop walking when he bites the leash and if he stops, mark and reward that behavior.

     Going for walks is the highlight of your dog’s day so understanding your dog and training him to walk safely with a leash on will make walking as fun for you as it is for him.