The month of October is a wonderful time of year everywhere to be outside. Beginning October 1st, for a week, you and your dog can join a nation of pup owners in celebrating the benefits of walking together. We also know that dog walking benefits you and your pet. To ensure a cheerful dog walking experience, let’s start National Walk Your Dog Week (Oct. 1-7) by successfully leash training our pets.
Benefits of Walking with Your Pet
There are several benefits to walking with your pet that go beyond physical health, including:
- Mental Health: Dogs don’t like to feel bored and are less likely to do something destructive when you walk them. Watching and exploring outside their homes mentally stimulates dogs.
- Emotional Health: Walking your dog regularly will deepen your bond and help prevent attention-seeking behaviors like excessive barking or whining.
- Personal Health: Most people require outside motivation to work out. Your dog is committed to hanging out with you, making him or her the perfect exercise buddy.
Tips for Leash Training
Daily walks are critical for your furry friend’s health and well-being. In honor of National Walk Your Dog Week, let’s explore the following tips for training your pet to walk on a leash.
Select The Right Gear
First of all, you will need to utilize the right equipment. Select a collar and leash that are in good condition, comfortable, robust, and of the correct size. The collar should be snug so your dog can’t slip out of it. You should be able to fit two fingers below the collar comfortably, but not more. The leash shouldn’t be too thick or thin for your dog’s body. Also, the ideal length is approximately 6 feet to allow your pet to explore without being so long that you don’t have proper control of your pup.
The Leash Training Part
The next step is leash training. It’s ideal to train your pet early on to prevent problems such as your dog pulling ahead or chewing on the leash. The key to a successful dog walking experience is reward-based dog training. This is also the most effective way to teach your dog any type of training.
Reward-based training involves rewarding your pet with praise, treats, or a toy when they complete positive behaviors and ignore unwanted behaviors. You can give your dog quick, stern corrections for an unwanted behavior, but be mindful not to be overly harsh with your dog to prevent anxiety. This can lead to defensive aggression in your furry friend.
Make Training a Fun Activity
Celebrate National Walk Your Dog Week by making training a fun activity. Begin by training your pet on the leash using a technique known as “loose-leash walking.” To complete this technique, whenever your dog walks on their leash without pulling, reward them every few paces and continue walking. If your pet begins to pull, stand still temporarily, so they learn this behavior means no walking. Also, don’t continue until they return next to you.
However, if your furry pal continues to pull regardless of this training, you can switch to preparing your pet to walk on a leash utilizing a front-attach harness or a head collar. A front-attach harness such as an EasyWalk gently discourages your dog from pulling by steering your dog to the side and redirecting them toward you when they start to pull. A head collar like a Gentle Leader fits around your dog’s muzzle and discourages pulling by turning their head around every time they tug.
Use Reward-Based Training
You can also utilize reward-based training to teach your pet to leave something alone. This prevents them from picking up something possibly dangerous such as toxic plants, during a walk. This also involves teaching your dog a verbal cue like “leave it” or “drop it.”
Various trainers might use different techniques to teach this, but it typically includes holding a treat in your closed hand, ignoring your pet’s attempts to move your hand to grab the treat, and then permitting them to take the treat when they move away from it. Add the verbal cue once your dog does this consistently. But ensure you carry tasty treats as rewards!
Another essential part of training is to teach your dog to listen to commands, especially recall commands. This will keep them safe and allow you to enjoy the choice of off-leash walking when the environment permits. Start in a secure area around your home and complete the following steps:
- Use a long leash to walk your dog, call their name, and run a couple of steps ahead.
- When your pet runs to you, say “come” and provide a reward.
- Increase the distance between you and your pet before you say the command.
- Gradually practice without the leash at home and then in public areas using the leash.
- When your pet’s recall is 80% reliable on a long leash with distractions, move to off-leash work in a quiet public area away from dangers like big streets and where dogs are allowed off-leash.
Ultimately, leash training your dog will provide years of enjoyment and help keep your pet safe when outside. If you are uneasy about your pet’s behavior, seek the advice of one of the veterinarians at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital to rule out any underlying medical issues. Happy National Walk Your Dog Week!
Here at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital, We’ll Treat Your Pets Like Family!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!