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Leash Training Basics For You and Your Dog

Leash training is important for several reasons. Leash training a dog is one of the basic things all dog owners need to know in order to control a dog in public. Walking your dog on the leash is also one of the fastest ways to "bond" with your dog. Taking your dog for long walks (25-45 minutes in length), everyday also helps to relieve your dog’s anxiety, stress and pent up energy which can be critical in order to keep your dog out of trouble around the house.

As with all training you must show your dog proper leadership. From the time you put the leash on your dog and walk out of the door, until the time you return from the walk YOU must be in control. Making your dog follow your direction at all times does this. You should to be the first one out the door, the first one down the steps, and in most cases you need to make sure that the dog is behind or beside you while on the walk. In almost every case it should not be the other way around!

Most dogs really look forward to walking with their owners and leash pulling often begins before the leash is even hooked to the dog's collar. When he or she finds out you are ready to go for a walk, the excitement quickly builds. Sometimes even to a fever pitch. Your dog may act out in several ways, such as running back and forth to the door, jumping, spinning, barking, and howling or in other ways. This is because before you even get out of the door his or her mind is already on the walk. 

It is important for you to make your dog calm down and relax before you even put the leash on. (Warning: This may talk a little while at first, so plan in some extra time for it). Allowing the dog to act out is fine as long as you don't move forward until he or she calms down. If the excitement returns when you put the leash on, take a few more minutes to make the dog calm itself again before you continue. (And so on until you get the walk underway). If you allow the walk to begin when your dog is excited, you have set the tone for the entire walk and it will not be a pleasant one.

If you expect your dog to walk calmly beside you, you need to train it to always be calm. By commanding your dog to "sit and stay" while you are putting on the leash you are not only showing proper leadership, you are also telling your dog to stay calm and to have respect for you. If your dog moves from the "sit and stay", it needs to know that the walk will be delayed until he or she returns to being calm. This makes you the leader! If you do not give in, your dog will quickly learn that the walk does not happen until it is perfectly calm.

When your dog is calm it is important that you praise him or her for being in that state of mind. But remember, the dog can sense your positive feelings so a pat on the head or a "good dog" may only server to excite him or her again. If you use petting or words to praise your dog, do it quietly and in a calm manor.

During the walk, every time he or she begins to pull or lunge on the leash, just stop and make him or her sit again. When he or she calms back down, calmly praise her and quietly move on. In order to control your dog you need to keep the dog's attention on you instead of the world around the walk. 

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