iStock_000016257088_MediumWith autumn just around the corner, you may be considering taking up jogging with your best friend or hitting those park trails with the family pooch. But, then you realize your pet may not yet have the leash walking skills needed to handle the challenge.

Likewise, you may have adopted a dog recently and are unsure of the best approach to leash training. Or, your new little puppy bundle of joy is old enough to start those fun walks in the park or around the neighborhood.

Whatever brings you to the next phase of dog walking, there are some effective techniques you can use when it comes to walking your dog like a pro.

Tools of the Trade

Contrary to popular belief, the retractable leash that you see on pet store shelves is not the best option when training your dog to be a well-behaved walker. Fortunately, there are several quality leashes on the market that work for the dog walking novice, and even cooler leashes still, once you and your pup are pros!

When using a leash and collar, choose a well-made collar that buckles or clips, and is fitted without being too tight or rubbing. Some good choices in leashes for the inexperienced walker include:

  • Nylon or leather leash no longer than 6 ft. for larger dogs, or 4 ft. for your pint-sized pooches
  • Nylon head halter or collar, which goes over your dog’s nose and around his or her neck, just behind his ears (a great choice for dogs prone to pulling on the leash)
  • A Martingale collar which works through the use of two loops, with one being the “control loop” that tightens when it is pulled without choking your dog
  • A no-pull harnesses is also an option, designed to apply pressure to the chest or rear legs, depending on how it is constructed
  • It’s a good idea to read reviews and do a bit of initial research before selecting a training collar and leash or harness for your pet, as there are many on the market and quality varies. And yes, we are happy to answer your questions!

    Expert Techniques & Training Tips

    Before delving into the dog walking techniques, your Springbrook team recommends professional training sessions with your best friend, to ensure socialization and an understanding of basic commands. Our puppy training classes are fun, educational, and a great way to introduce your little guy or gal to a range of positive commands and social skills that will serve him or her over a lifetime.

    While there are a number of opinions on the best training protocols, from the use of the positive reinforcement “clicker” to a range of behavior modification techniques, here are some standard tips to use when teaching your dog how to love the leash.

    1. Give the “green light” to walk by associating walking and movement with a command such as, “walk” or “let’s go”.
    2. If your pooch decides to pull, stop immediately and do not proceed until he or she loosens the leash again. When you begin walking, associate this with another command such as, “stay with me” or “beside me”.
    3. As your dog learns to keep the leash loose and walk beside you, verbally praise him or her and reward with a small treat and a “click” from a plastic clicker, if you have one. Use short, simple praises that incorporate the behavior being rewarded.
    4. Remember to verbally praise your dog when you return home from the walk and keep walking time to a minimum, gradually increasing time or distance as your pet acclimates and learns the skills to walk like a pro pooch.

    If you have any questions about puppy training or dog walking, please give us a call. Walking is a wonderful way to get exercise and bond with your canine companion.