Dog Obedience Training: Where to Start
After you have trained your dog in the basic commands, it's time to begin leash training. Leash training is to train your dog so that he is walking by your side happily. He isn't pulling you everywhere, only goes to the bathroom and stops to sniff when you give him permission. Sound impossible? It really isn’t if you follow the advice below, and you'll find that dog obedience training is easier than you think.
Loose Leash Training with a Harness
Being able to walk your dog on a leash without him tugging you all over the place or choking himself is what many dog owners strive for. If your dog pulls or yanks on his lease while walking, he can end up with a very painful throat. Plus, it makes the whole “taking your dog for a walk” stressful.
A collar can place pressure on your dog’s airway when he yanks or pulls at his leash. But there is a solution for dogs that pull, whether they are big dogs or small dogs. The answer is dog obedience training with a no pull harness instead of a collar.
But a harness can give your dog more leverage for pulling and lunging, so training is necessary for loose leash walking. Getting your pet adjusted to the harness is the first step in dog obedience training with a harness and leash. Once your dog becomes used to the harness and is comfortable, it will be up to you to teach him to walk correctly on a loose leash without pulling.
What is Needed for Dog Obedience Training on a Loose Leash
The first thing that you, as a dog owner, need to do is find a harness that fits your dog. It can’t cause irritation, be too light, or too loose. Also, you should you’re your dog’s name and your phone number on the personalized no-pull harness. Your dog can become lost and not returned to you if the information isn’t on him.
The other thing you need is high-value treats. Treats will help you to teach your dog how to behave when wearing the harness. Plus, it will show your dog the harness isn’t something to be afraid of.
You can do several things to make the adjustment to a harness more comfortable for your dog. Place the harness gently on the floor and let your dog sniff it and even play with it. You can even place it in your hand and see how your dog reacts to it.
Give your dog treats to reinforce that the harness is a good thing. Touch your dog's fur with the harness. If he lets you, rub it over his body and give him another treat.
If your dog backs away from it, gently reinforce that the harness isn’t anything to be worried about. Try letting it touch your dog again with treats as a positive reinforcement. Try putting the harness on your dog. If he moves away from it, just touch him with it and lay it back down.
Try putting the harness on your dog again until your dog allows the harness to be placed on him. However, if your dog gets upset, just lay it on the floor and walk away for a bit. Let him sniff it again. Then try the process all over again.
When your dog allows the harness to be put on him, make sure it's comfortable. Check the clips and make sure the harness isn't too tight. Give your dog some praise and a high-value treat once he allows the harness to go on.
Next is adding the leash. Tap the metal part of the leash on the hook on the halter. Don't hook it yet. It's just to let your dog know that's more is coming. Hook the leash onto the no-pull harness and give your pet a treat is he doesn’t become upset about it.
Let your dog walk around the house with the leash attached. When he seems to be comfortable with it, pick the leash up. Wall your dog around the home with the leash attached to the harness. Talk to your dog, give him praise and a treat.
Train Your Dog to Correctly Walk on a Loose Leash
First, to train your dog to walk on a loose leash, attach the leash to your dog’s harness. Also, the best way to reward your dog for listening to you is to feed him a high-value treat and give him lots of praise. Just keep in mind to feed your dog less when you feed him his next meal.
So, tuck some delicious dog treats in your pocket and attach a 6-foot leash with a knot tied about 2 feet from the clasp. Attach the leash to your dog’s no-pull- harness. Choose an area that doesn’t have too many distractions so his attention is on you. Make sure that your dog is a little hungry and he’s been exercised.
When you start to walk your dog, you need to hold the knot in the hand closest to your dog. Hold the loop across your body with your free hand. Next, take a treat out of your pocket, show it to your dog and say, “let’s go.” If he takes a step with you, then give him a treat. Every time he takes a step and stays attentively beside you on a loose leash, give him another treat.
As you start to walk with your pup, watch him carefully. He will forget about you and head for the end of the knotted portion of the leash. When this happens, tell him “easy” in a calm voice. Your dog won’t know what you’re talking about and will most likely continue to the end of the knotted part of the leash. As soon as you feel pressure on the knotted part of the leash, say “oops” calmly.
Then let go of the knot, make a U-turn, and begin walking in the opposite direction. The no-pull harness will help tell your dog not to pull when you abruptly stop. Your pet’s momentum and the no pull-harness will turn your pet back towards you.
When you turn and walk in the opposite direction, it will stop your pet from pulling at that moment. It will also allow him another chance to earn a "good boy" from you by walking at your side when he catches up to you. When he does catch up and is by your side again, feed him a treat, praise him, and pick up the knot again.
Continue to reward your dog with every step he takes alongside you. If he goes past you and is heading for the end of the knotted leash again, repeat the “easy” and “oops” procedure and turning around. You can also substitute different words that sound more natural to you.
All during your walk, repeat the above exercise. Your dog should start staying alongside you so he gets more treats. Be sure to give him a delicious treat and praise every time he stays by your side. You should also see your pet look up or slow down when you say the “easy” or “oops.”
Don't become discouraged during dog obedience training. If your dog has always pulled on his leash in the past or is energetic, it will take some practice. Training your dog to walk at your pace, not his, will take time to develop the new habit.
You must be consistent when dog obedience training. To be successful in stopping your dog from pulling on his leash, be sure that your pet does not take a step forward into a tight leash while wearing a no-pull harness.
If your dog learns that he can pull and get closer to what he wants, then he'll know that if he pulls, your dog will get what he wants. So, your pup will continue to pull. As soon as you feel pressure on the leash, stop walking and then turn and walk in the opposite direction.
Once your dog starts walking by your side easier, you can begin to reward him every other step. Then you can move on to rewarding your dog every third step. If there are distracting circumstances, then reward your dog more frequently to keep his attention on you.
You might notice that your dog may pull on his leash while wearing his harness when he gets excited. If this happens, it’s essential to make sure you walk in the opposite direction consistently when your dog pulls. Be sure to reward him with high praise and treats when he is walking correctly beside you.
When Your Dog Is Still Pulling
If your dog is still pulling after the dog obedience training, there are some tips you can try. First, make sure the no-pull harness is fitted correctly. If you're not sure, reread the instruction booklet to double-check. If the harness is irritating your dog, trying to get him to listen may be more difficult.
Be consistent in training regardless of who is walking your dog. Train the other members in your family or dog walker to be consistent in stopping and go in the opposite direction when your dog starts to pull. Have them be ready even before your dog starts to pull to be able to correct him.
Make the reward for good behavior a treat or toy that your dog really wants. If you’re giving him treats, walk him before a meal, so he's a little hungry. Or being a high-desired treat such as small pieces of meat or cheese. Or you can reward him by letting him sniff around for a bit or even running a couple of steps.
If you do reward your dog with a sniff break, don’t allow him to sniff unless you say, "go sniff!" If he does start to sniff without your permission, just keep walking. When your dog starts to walk nicely by your side, again say, "go sniff," stop walking and let him sniff or go to the bathroom. Then say “let’s go” and begin walking again.
When you’re walking, give your dog praise and a treat every time he glances at you while you’re walking on the leash. Place the treat by your thigh even if he has to come backwards to get it. A dog can’t pull forward and look at you at the same time.
If you feel that your dog doesn't understand what you're asking from him, take a mini time out. Add it after you do your U-turn in the opposite direction. This will get your dog’s attention that he’s to be paying attention to you, not everything else. The procedure goes like this:
- Your dog starts to go towards the end of the knotted leash, and you say “easy.”
- He continues to pull to the end of the knotted part. You say, "oops." Then you turn and walk a few steps in the opposite direction.
- Once your dog is headed back towards you, you stop walking.
- When your dog is even with you, you grab the knot in the lease. If your dog stops when he catches up to you, wait a few seconds and then say, “good dog, let’s go!” Begin walking forward. If your dog doesn’t stop by you, say "easy," and then if he is still walking, say, "oops," and turn around. Try it again.
- Only say “let’s go” and start walking forward when your dog has stopped and is waiting for you.
So, training your dog to walk on a loose leash while wearing a no-pull harness will take some time and patience. Dog obedience training isn’t something that can be taught in just a few lessons. It takes repetition and cooperation on both you and your dog’s part.
Before you know it, your dog happily will be walking on a loose leash beside you and enjoying walking with you as much as you enjoy walking with him.