Dogs are gifted with enthusiasm -- a good trait if you and your pet are playing fetch in a field. On the other hand, it can be a potentially dangerous trait if you're strolling along a busy sidewalk. An untethered animal poses many risks: It could jump on strangers, get into fights with other dogs, or run into oncoming traffic. That's why leash training is so essential. Leash training should begin as soon as you get your dog, regardless of its age. In fact, in many areas, leashes are required by law.
Authors of the Handbook of Behaviour Problems of the Dog and Cat (Butterworth Heinemann), offer the following advice when beginning to leash train your dog.
Five Easy Steps to Leash Train Your Dog
1. Begin by placing the collar and leash on your dog while it eats, letting the leash hang loosely by its side. This allows your dog to associate the leash with something pleasant (food) and helps it get used to having a collar around its neck.
2. After two or three days, take the leash in your hand and follow your dog around the house for a few minutes after it has finished eating. Do this for longer and longer periods, until your dog is used to both the leash and having you walk beside it.
3. Next, go outside and let your dog drag the leash around, occasionally picking up the leash and following it. Offer a treat while showing the leash.
4. While walking, hold the leash in your right hand and coax your dog along your left side by holding a treat in your left hand. As you walk, repeat the phrase, "Let's go!" Praise your dog when it does well.
5. If your dog starts to pull forward, do a clockwise turn and walk in another direction; the leash will pull its head to the side so it will have to hurry to catch up with you. Repeat this exercise until your dog learns that if it wants to walk beside you and receive your praise, it'll have to stay by your side.
Make sure your dog's leash isn't too long. Four to six feet is ideal. Conduct your outdoor training sessions in an area with few distractions, such as your backyard or a quiet park. If your dog is overly excited, tire it out a little with vigorous play before placing it on the leash. A slightly fatigued dog is more attentive. And never yell at or strike your dog while training. Patience pays!
Proper Training Equipment
Using the right kind of leash and collar can help make your training successful. Most pet supply stores carry a wide selection. Here are the most common types of leashes and collars.
With a lot of patience and a little bit of time, you can leash-train your dog and keep it safe and sound no matter where you go.
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