Leash Training: Mastering the Art of Walking Your Older Dog

Man walks an airedale terrier. Leash train an older dog using patience and plenty of treats.

Have you ever found yourself in a crowded vet clinic, only to have your legs tangled up in your dog’s leash? It’s an embarrassing situation, but one that can be easily avoided with proper leash training. Leash training is not just for puppies or small dogs; even older dogs can benefit from it. Not only will it make your walks more comfortable, but it will also help you develop a stronger bond with your furry friend.

Gathering the Essentials

Before you set out to leash train your older dog, make sure you have all the necessary equipment. You’ll need a leash, treats, a bottle of water, and a collar (if you find it useful). Opt for a larger and thicker leash since you’ll be dealing with an older and potentially stronger dog. Leather leashes are also a good choice due to their durability and quality.

Calming the Excitement

Dog holds leash in mouth while waiting for walk. Responsible dog owners walk their dogs every day.

If your older dog hasn’t been accustomed to wearing a leash, it’s important to be patient. Your dog might get overly excited at the prospect of going for a walk, making training more challenging. To address this, help your dog understand that wearing a leash doesn’t always mean going outside. Practice clipping and unclipping the leash indoors without actually stepping out. This will help change the association your dog has with wearing a leash and going for a walk.

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Rewarding Good Behavior

Use treats to train German Shepherd Dog.

During your leash training sessions, don’t forget to reward and praise your dog for good behavior. Dogs, like humans, thrive on rewards and positive reinforcement. Whenever your dog walks calmly by your side or returns to the right position, offer treats and praise. This will motivate your dog to continue behaving in the desired manner. As your dog becomes more accustomed to walking on a leash, you can gradually reduce the frequency of treats.

The Power of Patience

Leash training an older dog requires patience, as breaking old habits takes time. You need to be prepared for slow and disjointed walks, especially in the beginning. Remember, you are dealing with an older dog, and change doesn’t come overnight. Embrace patience and stay consistent throughout the training process.

Positive Reinforcement, Not Punishment

While it may be tempting to resort to punishment techniques when your dog misbehaves, it’s crucial to avoid this. Punishing your dog by using choke chains, shock collars, or prong collars can create negative associations and make the leash training process even more challenging. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and reward-based training methods for the best results.

Choosing the Right Leash

dog walking info

Selecting the right leash is essential for effective leash training. While leather leashes offer durability, the primary goal is to choose a leash type that suits your training needs. Consider using a training leash that keeps your dog close to your side during walks. This will help you correct any bad habits more efficiently. The benefits of using a properly designed training leash will become evident as your dog improves over time.

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Prioritize Your Dog’s Health

Before embarking on leash training or any intensive exercise, it’s important to consider your dog’s health. Just like you wouldn’t jog or walk with an injured knee, don’t push your dog to train if they have underlying health issues. Visit your veterinarian to ensure your dog is fit and healthy before starting any strenuous activities. A healthy dog will be more receptive to training and enjoy the process.

Safety First

Karen's Kollars

When walking your dog in the evening, safety becomes a top priority. Wearing something reflective, such as a collar or leash, can help ensure you and your dog are visible to oncoming vehicles. This precaution can prevent accidents and keep both of you safe. Consider the environment you choose for training as well. A calm and distraction-free area will make it easier to handle any pulling or excitement your dog may exhibit.

The Stillness Technique

If your dog pulls on the leash during walks, avoid the temptation to pull back. Instead, stand still and wait for your dog to calm down. Only continue walking when your dog is no longer pulling. This technique requires patience and consistency. While it may prolong your walks initially, it will eventually teach your dog that pulling won’t get them where they want to go.

Updated ID Tags

Karen's Kollars

Finally, always keep your dog’s identification tags updated. Losing your dog while on a walk can be every dog owner’s nightmare. By ensuring your dog’s ID tag has accurate information and keeping a few pictures on hand, you’ll be better prepared to find your furry companion in case they ever go missing.

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Leash training an older dog may require time and effort, but the results will be worth it. Walking a well-behaved and calm dog not only improves your daily walks but also strengthens the bond you share. With patience, persistence, and positive reinforcement, you can master the art of leash training and enjoy stress-free walks with your loyal companion.

Use patience, persistence, and the right techniques to train your older dog effectively.