Most dogs need to be walked at least twice every day, and this should be a fun, relaxing time for you and your canine companion to enjoy some fresh air, bond a little and for them to do their business. However, this is only the case if your dog walks nicely beside you. Unfortunately, many dogs won’t walk alongside their owner unless they are trained to do so.
Why do dogs pull on the leash?
There can be a number of different reasons why dogs pull on their leash when we take them for walkies.
- They want to go and explore areas away from the path
- They’ve seen another dog, human or other animal that they want to interact with
- They have excess energy that they want to burn off
- They simply want to walk faster than we are!
The trouble is that if you allow your dog to pull on the leash and go with them when they do, you are teaching them that pulling gets them what they want. Loose leash walking is a great skill for your dog to learn, and many dogs go on to be able to master consistently walking alongside their owner without a leash at all!
Equipment for teaching your dog to walk beside you
Before you can start to teach your four-legged friend to walk beside you, you need to have the correct equipment in place.
The right leash. Choose a good, strong leash that has a comfortable handle for you to hold. You may wish to have both a short leash of around 6 to 10 inches long, and a long one of anywhere from 15 to 50 inches in length. Using the longer lead will give your dog chance to explore away from you time to time, while still being able to come and walk alongside you when you ask them to.
A collar or harness. A good collar should fit snugly to your dog’s neck so that it can’t be pulled over their head, but there should still be enough space for you two get at least two fingers in the space, so you know it’s not too tight. Some owners prefer a harness which fits over their doggy’s body, particularly if their pooch often pulls quite hard. This will help prevent excessive pressure on their pet’s neck, which could cause coughing, pain and breathing difficulties.
Teaching your dog to walk beside you
Training your furbaby to do anything requires persistence, consistency and most of all, patience! However, with practice it’s perfectly possible to teach your dog to walk nicely beside you.
Start at home
Before you even think about heading outside, master the basics at home. You can do this inside or in your garden if you prefer. Start without the leash first, as using it will make your dog think you are going outside. Reward them with a treat or some fuss when they sit still or stand by your side.
Next start to walk slowly in a straight line. Reward your dog whenever they are by your side, and when they remain by your side consistently, start to increase the time and distance between rewards. If you're looking for a new treat to reward your dog, our treat range by Whimzees are a great choice.
Dogs are naturally curious, and it will be much harder for your furry friend to maintain their focus on staying alongside you if there are distractions around. Nevertheless, it’s important for them to master this skill, so create distractions by changing direction or asking other people to walk over to you. Again, keep rewarding your dog for staying beside you.
Take the leash and head outside
Once your dog can walk beside you in your home or garden, it’s time to take their training into the outside world. Repeat the steps above with the leash on. If your dog starts to pull and the leash becomes tight, stop moving. This shows your dog that pulling won’t get them what they want. When the leash becomes slack again, continue walking, and if your dog remains next to you, give them a treat.
Another challenge to be aware of is cleaning your dog after the inevitably get dirty walking outside! Even on a lead almost every dog will find some way to roll in something or get soaked. We have a wide range of blogs to help you find the best products for cleaning your dog after a walk, but we woul alwayd recommendand the .
Unsurprisingly, walkies will take a little longer while your dog is learning the ropes, but before too long, your favourite four-legged pal should be able to work alongside you without pulling on the leash.