Dog Leash Training Explained

Dog leash training is an important part of teaching your dog to be a well-behaved member of the family. Leash training echoes dog whispering techniques that you are the leader, that your dog should follow your lead and that walking by your side is a pleasant, no stress event.

Training Equipment

There are a variety of collars and leashes available, each with their own advantages.

  • Buckle collars are a standard collar and remain a constant length. Try training with a regular collar first. If your dog resists or needs stronger correction, try one of the other collars.
  • A head collar not only has the standard collar unit that goes around your dog's neck, but also has a portion of the collar that fits loosely over your dog's muzzle so that lunging or pulling at the leash is counteracted by pulling your dog's head to the side.
  • Choke collars are a type of collar that, when fitted and used properly, tighten and release with a quick tug. This action refocuses your dog's attention on appropriate behavior.
  • A standard leash is a constant length, typically between 6 to 8 feet.
  • Retractable leashes are on a reel, allowing the leash to extend 16 to 20 feet and are useful for teaching sit, stay, and come while on a leash, but are ineffective when teaching your dog to heel.

Teaching Proper Behavior While on Leash

  • Familiarize your dog with his leash for a few days before actually starting leash training. Put collar and leash on your dog and let the leash hang while your dog is eating or just wandering around the house.
  • After the familiarization period, your dog should learn that while on leash, he needs to know that you are the leader of the family. This confidence is the base upon which you build your dog's respect for you and your expectations of him.
  • Proper position for your dog while on leash is on your left side with his head even with your leg. The leash should be held in your right hand. Use a cue word such as "Let's go" or "Walk" to indicate that you are going to move forward.
  • As you and your dog walk around your training area, discourage his moving ahead of you by turning clockwise (right) and changing direction. The change in direction teaches your dog that he needs to pay attention to you so he can move without being brought up short.
  • Outdoor training sessions should begin in a quiet area with few or no distractions until such time as he can consistently walk by your side with minimal correction.
  • Length of training sessions will depend upon the age of your dog. Puppies require 15 to 20 minute sessions because of their distractibility. Older puppies and dogs can be trained in half hour to 45 minute sessions.

If you are a new dog owner or lack confidence in your abilities to properly train your dog, look into training classes offered in your local area. Not only will you have an expert to lead you through proper training techniques, your dog will have an opportunity to develop his social skills with the other dogs in the class.