Walking your dog is one of the best activities you can do with your furry kid. But mastering the art of loose leash walking can be tricky, especially if you are a new dog parent, or if your dog has too much energy and likes pulling you along. So if you fall into one of these categories, this blog is for you. But first:
Benefits of walking your dog
Regardless of your dog’s situation, behavior and age, dog walks have a lot of benefits, both for you and Fido. Let’s have a look at some of them:
- Walking your dog is a great way for both of you to get exercise! Walking is the most natural and safest way of exercising for the average human or canine. So whether you have a pup, an adult or a senior dog, as long as they have no health impediments, walking is the natural thing to do!
- It allows for potty time. Although walking your dog has a different purpose than just letting him out for a potty break, the former encompasses the latter. You can organize a daily routine so your dog gets used to going to the potty around the same time during walks.
- It can help your dog lose weight. Excess weight can potentially trigger a whole lot of other health issues for dogs. According to VCA Hospitals, obesity in dogs can lead to different types of cancer, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, just to mention a few. And a decrease of your dog’s lifespan.
- It provides your pet with an opportunity to socialize. Invite a friend to walk their dog with you so you can double the benefit by chatting and socializing yourself!
- Keeps your dog active and prevents boredom. Whenever you see your dog looking bored or worse, chewing your shoes, know it’s time for a walk. So he can get inspired by the outdoors, with all its smells, other dogs and landscapes to explore. All this offers a great mental stimulation for dogs (as it does for us!)
- Increases the bond you have with your pet. After all, they are called our best friends for a reason. As in any human relationship, likewise the more time you spend with your dog, the closer he will be with you. Walks are a great way of strengthening your companionship. You can also add playtime to build up the bond even more.
- Gives both of you something to look forward to. A walk will lift your spirits and give you more energy.
Mastering loose leash walking: how to train your dog, step-by-step
There is an art to walking your dog. Remember, you are the pack leader. Being the pack leader comes with a lot of responsibility. Just as your furry companion depends on you for the staples in their life, food, water, and shelter, and the emotional support in their life, love, comfort, and stability, they also depend on you for behavioral guidance. Including how to walk on a leash properly.
Walking a dog on a loose leash means there should be no pulling, and the leash should form a “J” shape between your hand and the dog’s collar at all times. If this sounds like an impossible task for you, fear not. Here are simple tips to help you master loose leash walking.
What you will need:
- A quality 6 foot long leash and collar: opt for waterproof and durable materials, so you can enjoy walks over any type of terrain without worrying about water, mud or snow damaging the leash. Check out our range of biothane collars and leashes for quality, American made options.
- Treats: have high value treats to reward your dog during training.
1. Get your dog accustomed to a collar and leash while at home
- Put the collar-and-leash on your pup for short periods during playtime, and as you give him treats. That way, your dog will associate collar and leash with treats and fun.
2. Teach him a clue
- Still inside the house and while he is wearing his collar and leash, call your dog’s attention. Use a word like “here” or “yes” (you may also use a dog training clicker). As soon as he looks at you, reward him with a treat. Hence he will associate that word or noise with “treat”.
3. Increase the distance between you and get him to come to you
- Now take a few steps away from your pup and call him again. Use the same word as above, and give him a treat once he gets to you. Then progressively, as he is on his way to you, keep taking a few more steps away, increasing the distance, and rewarding him once he gets to you. Keep practicing inside your home until you feel confident enough to go outside.
4. Now take your dog outside
- Keep the first walks short and be patient, as there will be a lot of distractions to overcome. As you notice your dog about to get distracted or lunge into something or someone (like another dog, or a person), make your sound clue, take a few steps (away from the object of his distraction) and reward him for coming to you. But attention! Take a few steps forward and let him follow you BEFORE stopping and rewarding, as to avoid him associating the sequence “pull-stop-treat”. You don’t want him to pull at all. With time, increase the steps he needs to take to reach you; that way he will eventually learn to follow you with more control.
5. Keep your walks relatively short until your dog walks more often without pulling.
- This will lower anxiety and stress levels and keep the walking event enjoyable.
Keeping the dog walk comfortable and fun
Now, more important than the technique, is to make sure both you and your pup enjoy yourselves! So don’t forget these basics whenever you take your furry friend out:
1. Bring the necessities.
- Be sure to stay hydrated. Carry water for both you and your dog.
- Keep up your energy. Bring some snacks for you and your pet.
- Don’t forget bags to clean up after your pets potty break. There are leashes with built-in waste bag carriers to allow a hands-free walk.
2. Dress for your adventure.
- In winter, be sure you and your pet are dressed for the outside temperature and are prepared for the terrain where you will be walking. Some dog breeds are naturally coated to endure the cold weather, while others may need some extra warmth through coats and pet shoes.
3. Give your dog something new to discover.
- Once your dog is well trained on walking on a loose leash, wander off the beaten path and enjoy new surroundings. Give your dog something new to sniff!
3. Allow for playtime.
- Conditions allowing, give your friend some time to play, run, socialize and enjoy himself. If there’s snow, let him have fun with it! You may also bring a dog toy to play fetch with your beloved.
4. Know when to stop.
- If your pet starts slowing down or losing interest in their surroundings, you have gone far enough.
Walk your dog with love
Most of all enjoy walking your pet and spending time together!! We would love to hear about the adventures you have had while walking your furry friend.