Training Your Family Dog to Walk on a Leash

Bear the dog

Hey, there. It’s me here. At the MuttFitter’s office, I’ve got 2 of the sweetest dogs you could ask for. Lyla’s a 3-year-old husky/akita mix and Bear is a 1-year-old lab/shepherd/hound/who-knows mix — It would be interesting to do a dog breed DNA test. Both were adopted from a local animal shelter where I live in Maine but were originally rescued from southern states (Georgia and North Carolina). I love them both, but sometimes they’ve got too much energy for a work day, so we like to go for lots of walks.

I’m ashamed to say it, but I haven’t trained my dogs to not pull on the leash. When we go for walks it’s nose to the ground and tails to the wind. I’d say it’s a benefit of living in a country setting, but it’s not the best when you’re in a public place or around the general population like if you’re in the city or taking your dog to the office.

I’ve never been consistent with leash training because until a year ago I only had one dog. Lyla is so smart and on her own listens quite well, so her pulling hadn’t been too egregious. When Bear joined the fam things got a little crazier. You know how dogs are. They play together. They chase each other. They spontaneously decide it’d be fun to seek and destroy squirrels together. Why would it be any different when they’re on a leash? It’s not.

Even though I could see how difficult walking was going to be (from a mile away) I still haven’t trained Lyla or Bear to walk calmly on a leash. They’ve been best buds for about a year and it shows. They’re not the worst, but they’re both pullers.

Have you seen the train your dog to not pull on a leash videos on YouTube? Most of the trainers suggest that you do not walk when your dog is pulling — as in, they pull and you hault. It’s not always easy to find the time or patience to deal with that kind of pace. Especially when your world is constantly go, go, go! Tight schedules make getting a quality walk in even more important.

We bought one of these 2 dog leashes when we got Bear. I really like that it doesn’t tangle, it’s long enough for both dogs to have their own space, and the memory foam handle is much more comfortable than the leash would be without it (you can slide it to one side or the other and test this theory out if you want to squish your hand with beautifully braided multi-color rope). In fact, there’s nothing bad I can say about the leash. It’s a good leash. It’d be even better if my dogs weren’t both impersonating
Balto.

Sometimes it’s really nice to give a dog some leeway and let them sniff their surroundings. I’ve been considering using 2 retractable leashes to walk the dogs, but I feel like that’s just asking for a tangle. And then I discovered these dual doggie pet leashes. Game changer, right?

The more I think about those the more I see trouble. The kind with rope burns and hog tying. Can you imagine 2 dogs running in different (or worse, the same) direction or getting 8 feet out and doing a circle of death around your ankles? Speculating while writing this just talked myself out of them — but they still look really cool and maybe would be great for more well mannered canines.

Anyway, in an effort to be a better dog owner it’s my short-term goal to teach my dogs to be better walkers. Sit, stay, come are all in our repetoir, but everyone wants a dog who can walk, heel, and be tame when you’re in public or around company.

Any dog enthusiast will tell you that exercising your dog is crucial to its mental and physical well-being, so it makes sense to teach them how to make walks (or runs) enjoyable for you too.

I watched this video on YouTube called “How to train your dog to NOT PULL on the leash!” to get some training ideas. It’s essentially what I’m going for and it’s nice to hear someone else reaffirm your strategy’s a good one. With a little luck, some patience, and consistency, Lyla and Bear will make an appearance in a “dog walk” video.

I think it’s going to be difficult to rain one dog at a time. I also wonder how consistent I’ll have to be with it. As in, once I start down the road of walking one way will I not be able to go for a walk normally until my dogs learn not to pull, so I’m not sending them mixed messages?

In my observations, successful dog training relies heavily on repetition, reinforcement, and consistency.

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