3 Mistakes to Avoid when Leash Training Your Dog
Veterinarian Reviewed on September 20, 2008 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Anybody who’s tried to walk an unruly dog, especially large unruly dogs, can probably tell you about the importance of leash training. Not only for your own sanity but also for the safety of your dog, leash training is an important aspect of basic dog training. To avoid stressful walks where your dog pulls incessantly on the leash, this is crucial training.
Usually, leash training your dog will be a straightforward process. However, this newsletter will discuss the 3 biggest mistakes that owners make when attempting to leash train their dogs. Avoid these mistakes and the training process should be relatively easy.
Inconsistent Training Behavior
Any kind of dog training requires consistency not only in your rules but your reaction when your dog breaks your training rules. Inconsistent behavior from the trainer can be very confusing for your dog and will make the leash training process much more stressful. For example, if your dog commonly becomes aggressive toward bikers or even strollers you must consistently deter that behavior because dogs learn best from predictable patterns. Dogs will learn quickly from cause and effect relationships but the effects need to be the same. When your responses to your dog’s behavior are inconsistent this makes punishment or reinforcement seem random to your dog and makes it difficult for them to learn.
An established leash training routine, with consistent rules, reinforcements and punishments is the most effective course of training.
A Lack of Patience
Ultimately, every dog is an individual who will learn at a different pace. Many dog owners can attest to the frustration they have felt from time to time when trying to leash train their dogs. Especially if you’ve had one dog that learned very quickly, you may find it more difficult to train a dog that isn’t picking up on concepts so quickly.
As people, we naturally want to achieve goals quickly and if we are frustrated during the leash training process this can lead to impatience. In fact, often times dogs need rules demonstrated time and time again before they’ll pick up on it. Leash training may require an extended period of time to achieve effectively. Furthermore, impatience often leads to inconsistency. If you are always hoping for immediate results this can cause you to abandon your training regime and this inconsistency will certainly confuse your dog.
Be patient with your dog and stick to your routine. Eventually, even the most difficult learners will become leash friendly.
Misunderstanding Your Dog
Many new dog owners will view the leash training processes as one sided. The owner tells the dog what to do and the dog responds. This can be a very destructive point of view when it comes to leash training. In fact, you and your dog are partners in the training process. As the trainer, you may be likely to take all the responsibility for training success or failure on your own without giving your dog any credit in the process. In fact, many owners will blame training techniques and strategies without considering the unique personalities of their dog. Every dog is different and as such leash training requires a flexible mind set on the part of the owner. Remember that your dog is an active participant in the training and sometimes certain techniques might not work. Be flexible and always have a backup plan and soon enough you and your dog can both enjoy relaxing walks together.
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan