Whether you have a new puppy or an older dog, one of the most important things a dog needs to learn is walking on a leash. Some dogs take to leash walking so easily – you clip it to their collar, and they walk along like they have been doing it their entire lives.
With some training, reassurance, and some coaxing, other dogs figure out how to walk along with a leash without any problems.
Although it seems so easy and logical, not all dogs take to a leash easily. Sometimes, there needs to be ongoing training and additional work with your dog to use and walk with a leash consistently.
Leash training isn’t difficult, but it can take time, patience, and some specific training to ensure that your dog learns to walk on a leash with consistent and reliable confidence.
Follow us now for more information on how to leash train a dog that won’t walk on a leash, and other great information about your pets and how to solve some common pet problems.
How to Leash Train a Dog That Won’t Walk
If your dog has issues walking on a leash, there are some simple changes that you can make to help work through the process.
To start, if you can reduce the stress around the collar use, then the leash use, it will make great strides to establishing a long-term acceptance of using a leash before you even get to the point of walking on a leash.
Size and Fit
If your dog does not like their collar, then that is the best place to start – ensure that you have the correct size and fit for the collar is where to start. If the collar is set up correctly, then start with small, short trials of time using treats and positive reinforcement.
An easy way to start is to put the collar on the floor and let your dog sniff it – if they come up and smell at it, pet them and give them a treat. Keep using positive reinforcement as they pay attention to the collar, and even the leash, if you choose to try to do reinforcement of both at the same time.
Once your dog is responding positively being around the collar, put it on them for a short time – try for 15 minutes, and once you get to the 15-minute mark, celebrate with a treat and lots of love.
Keep doing this process, increasing time, until your dog is comfortable in their collar full-time. Once you have mastered the collar, it is time to work on the leash!
Using the same concept as collar training, use the exposure method with the leash. Allow your dog to smell it, see it, and be around it without any stress.
Once your dog is familiar with the leash, it is time to clip it to its collar and start to move forward with the process.
If your dog tolerates this part of training, you are well on your way to walking on a leash!
Allowing the leash to become a simple part of their collar tends to be less resistant to using the leash than if you try to force it quickly.
An easy way to transition to the leash use at this point is to have it on your dog in the house and then move them outside and casually pick up the leash.
Allow them to go outside with you into the yard, or on a short walk to the car with you holding the leash, but no expectations. Treats and positive reinforcement should be used to make it fun and playful at each step of this process.
Outside Leash Time
If you have reduced to stress around the leash in the home, it is time to move outside and into the world. Making leash time a fun time will be the ticket to acceptance – whether you choose to go for a walk around your home, to the park, or somewhere else fun.
Having a fun time with treats and happiness will go a long way to reducing the stress around walking with the leash.
As your dog improves and becomes more comfortable with the leash, you gradually move forward with expectations and different cues.
Starting gradually, you can move from easy walking with the leash to the end of your driveway or street, to long walks around the block, to the park, or to the lake.
If you have increased resistance to the leash at any time, go back to the time when they were happy with it – maybe back to the house or playing in the yard. Once they seem happy or ignore the leash again, return to holding the leash and reinforcing with food and fun.
Your dog will eventually learn to ignore the leash – it just takes time and patience. Anytime you meet resistance or refusal to walk with the leash on, go back to the fun times to remind your dog that the leash is not a big deal.
Whether your dog is a new puppy or an older dog, you can teach a dog to learn to tolerate, and even love, its leash. Dogs that learn to understand that a leash means fun times will quickly adapt to wearing one when you want them to.
A leash is an important component in a dog’s life, and if you are still struggling to get your dog to accept walking with it, you may need to consult with your local veterinarian or a dog trainer.
Sometimes dogs have prior trauma that lends itself to leash resistance or is just a dog with a truly stubborn personality. Either way, if you need help to leash-train your dog, be sure to reach out to professionals that match your dog’s needs and the plan that you have for your dog.