Make your dog a better leash-walker
Walking a dog on a leash is required by law in many towns and cities. Leashing a dog prevents the animal from trespassing on neighbor's property and keeps it from jumping on people or other animals.
A leashed dog can be restrained from sniffing the waste of other animals, which may help curb the spread of diseases like distemper or parvo. Leashing also can reduce the propensity for the dog to run away from an owner and get lost.
Despite the benefits of walking dogs on a leash, some dogs are not too keen on the idea. Puppies may acclimate to it over time, but circumstances can make any dog want to escape a leash. The following are some issues that may arise and how to remedy them.
The vast assortment of collars and harnesses billed as Òno pullÓ suggests the issue of dogs pulling on the leash is common. Dogs on leashes that are too long may be distracted and pull more readily. Start out with a short leash and only allow a longer slack when the dog has exhibited an ability to walk diligently on the shorter leash.
Rather than punish bad behavior like pulling, many dog trainers recommend rewarding the good behavior, such as walking without pulling at your side. This praise can be delivered verbally and with plenty of treats.
Lunging and leash reactivity
Dogs may behave differently on a leash than they do when off them. Most dogs who lunge at passersby or bark or snarl may actually crave the attention of other companions but not have the social skills to engage in a proper meet and greet, according to the American Kennel Club. Should the dog be off-leash, he or she may not behave in the same way.
Lunging and other behaviors may stem from aggression, but itÕs more likely a cause of fear, says the AKC. ItÕs a mentality marked by an ÒIÕll get that thing before it gets meÓ outlook designed to make the feared person, dog or object go away. A leash also may cause frustration that the dog canÕt get to a desired pet or person, and the animal loses emotional control.
A trainer can help owners learn to distract the dog on the leash from others with high quality treats. Strategies to remove leash tension also can cut down on leash reactivity.
Dog owners can experiment with gear to make leash-walking go more smoothly. Traditional collars may put too much pressure on a dogÕs throat, particularly those who pull. A harness can be a better option. Gentle leaders are a type of head gear that enables pet owners to redirect their dogs more readily. Because they resemble muzzles, some owners may hesitate to use them despite their efficacy. Front clip harnesses and correctional collars might help as well. Consult with a veterinarian or trainer for the best options.
It pays to invest some time teaching dogs to walk calmly on leashes.