Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Of course, and the sooner you start the sooner your walks will be enjoyable.
Leash training is all about consistency, for your dog and yourself. Enjoying a good relationship with your dog means being able to take the dog for a walk and having it heel. Unfortunately, many dogs have learned to pull on the lead, which is tiring for you and could potentially be dangerous if the dog is too large and powerful. However, don’t stress if you have an older dog that has learned bad habits, as it’s never too late to retrain a dog to walk calmly on the leash without pulling. You simply need time, patience, and an understanding of what motivates your dog to learn and follow commands.
First off, picking the right leash is important to start off with success. A dog that needs leash training could benefit from the use of a training lead. This is a short leash that keeps the dog at your side. This kind of leash will let you correct bad behavior quickly and effectively by redirecting the dog away from distractions.
Two of the biggest issues grown dogs have with leashes are leash excitement and pulling the leash.
How can I tackle Leash Excitement?
Tackling the excitement associated with wearing a leash can take time, but it’s important to fix leash excitement so your dog will listen on your walk. The chances are, your dog is beside itself with excitement as soon as the leash appears because it associates the leash with a walk. You want your dog to be calm when you set off, so that you are more likely to succeed in retraining.
To this end, clip the leash on and off the dog in the house, but without going for a walk. Your aim is to break the assumption that because the dog has a lead on it is going for a walk. Do this for 15 minutes a few times a day until the excitement corrects.
Understanding why my dog is pulling the lead.
Dogs most commonly pull the lead because they are excited to get where they are going, which is usually an exciting place full of interesting smells such as the park. Dogs repeat behaviors when they get a reward from doing that behavior. In this case, the action of pulling on the lead is its own reward because the dog perceives they get where they want to go more quickly.
Teaching your dog to stop pulling on the lead.
This works best if you set aside plenty of time and are prepared to not actually get as far as your intended destination. Put the dog on the lead and calmly leave the house. As soon as it starts to pull on the leash, stop dead in your tracks. Hold the leash firmly, but do not try to pull the dog back to you.
If your dog needs lots of exercise, try playing ball in the yard to tire it out beforehand so that it gets its exercise.
It takes time to change ingrained behavior. Commit to daily training but don’t assume that your dog will change its behavior after just a week. It may take a lot longer for your pup to get the messages you are sending it and make the changes you desire.
Hopefully, after about a month of taking walks like this, your dog will no longer be taking you for a walk!
If you’re struggling with leash training with your grown dog, please reach out to Move Your Doggie. Move Your Doggie offers dog walking and pet sitting services in Ajax, Oshawa, and Whitby, Durham Region.For more information and to book your complimentary Meet and Greet, please visit our Contact Us page. Also, please feel free to leave a comment below.