Does your dog pull you along every time you try to walk them? Or, do they plop down obstinately on their butt when they want to go down a different street?

Many pets can prove to be stubborn when it comes to walking on a leash; but often that stubbornness can stem from a lack of training on how to walk on a leash.

The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center have a few tricks up our sleeve for easy leash walking to get your pet on the move.

The Pet Expert’s Tips for Easy Leash Walking

If your pet needs the basic skills to successfully walk on a leash, we highly recommend training and socialization first. It can help ease your pet into loose leash walking, along with reinforcing those important basic commands.

If your pet has been trained but needs some help walking on a leash without pulling or becoming distracted, we recommend these simple tips.

  1. Make sure you have the right gear. The first order of business is to have the right leash. If your pet likes to pull (most do), then we recommend a body halter or head halter. These will be more secure and they won’t cause neck injury if your pet pulls hard, like they would on a regular neck collar. The goal, of course, to avoid pulling, but these will ensure safety. Likewise, be sure you are not using a retractable leash. Find something sturdy with a little give, but not too much.

  2. Practice, practice, practice. Before venturing out into the world, teach your pet to feel comfortable in their leash and collar by walking them around at home, in the backyard, and to the mailbox. Leave the leash on while feeding and other positive situations to get them relaxed in the leash over time.

  3. Exercise your pet first.  It may seem like a duplicated effort, but when you are training your pet, a less rambunctious pet is easier to work with. Try a quick few rounds of fetch or frisbee before heading out for a walk.

  4. Use treats as rewards. The secret of any positive training is to reward your pet with a praise and, sometimes, some treats. Let them know they are going a good job, are well behaved, and maintaining eye contact with you during the walk.

  5. When your pet pulls, stop. Rather than resort to a determined game of tug-of-war, when your pet pulls, stop. Each time. If they refuse to stop pulling, stay and wait it out until they decide to move along with your lead. This is probably the single most important thing to do when it comes to resisting your lead. The persistence will pay off.

  6. Practice nonverbal and verbal cues. Don’t forget to dust off those basic commands, such as “sit”, “stay”, and “drop it”. Along with these commands, teach your pet to pay attention to you as you walk by using your gait and gaze to help them know where they should be alongside you.

  7. Stay aware of distractions. When you are newly training your pet, make sure to scan the distance in front and around you for possible distractions. Other dogs and animals, the mailman, passing cars, etc. can cause your pet to try and jump ahead or lose sight of your cues. Cross to another street whenever you can avoid these obstacles.

  8. Allow your pet to sniff. Don’t treat the walk like you would a chore. Walking provides great exercise, fresh air, enrichment and bonding time for your pet. Sniffing is a great source of enrichment, so allow them to sniff as you enjoy the walk together.

  9. Increase the duration of the walk over time. As your pet gets more comfortable and is less apt to pull, increase the amount of time spent walking. Ideally, your pet should have 20-30 minutes of quality exercise each day.

  10.  Have your pet sit before you cross. Having your pet sit quietly at each crosswalk is for their safety, but it also reinforces the techniques you have been using for calm, obedient loose leash walking.

We hope these leash walking tips help set you and your furry off on the right path. Don’t forget that we are only a phone call away, if you should have any questions or would like to sign up for training classes.