How would you feel walking in a crowded vet clinic, and all of a sudden, your legs get tied up by nothing but your dog leash? You will undoubtedly be embarrassed, but it is your fault anyway. Why? You failed to teach your dog the primary leash skills.
Whether your canine friend is just a little puppy, older, tiny, or big, leash training is essential. Even your older dog needs it. Plus, it would enable you to walk comfortably with your well-behaved dog by your side.
So, start following these practical tips to leash train an older dog!
Gather and assess all the materials you need
Before you step out of your home intending to leash-train your dog, ensure you have all the equipment you need. The materials you need don’t cost much, but not having them with you can create a setback in your training.
The materials include a leash, treats, bottle of water, and collar (if you find one useful).
The leash should be larger and thicker since you are dealing with an older dog. You also can choose from a range of high-quality leather leashes.
Eliminate anxiousness that comes with wearing a leash
Have you noticed that your dog feels super excited during and after wearing a leash? That excitement is because he feels having a leash on implies going for a walk. The enthusiasm is a good thing. But on the flip side, it might be a bit difficult to train a dog that is not calm.
So the first step is to tackle such unhealthy excitement. Let the dog understand that wearing a leash does not equal walking out. How? Take the leash and clip it on and off your dog indoors. Do not step out.
Your primary goal here is to change the assumption that wearing a leash equals going for a walk outdoors. You can also repeat this exercise for days. Make an effort to desensitize your dog before you start the leash training proper. Clip and unclip the leash on the dog at least 7 – 15 minutes every day to desensitize your dog.
Reward and praise good habits
While training your dog, two things you should not neglect are rewards and praises. Like humans, dogs like to be rewarded and praised. They both give them the go-ahead to repeat certain behaviors.
So when embarking on a leash training exercise, take a few dog treats with you. Also, let the dog have a treat whenever your dog returns calmly to the right place, which is by your side. You should also praise the dog whenever he acts accordingly.
Whenever your dog walks calmly, reward him. This will give him the idea that he needs to walk that way to get to his destination. You can also take it a step further by rewarding him whenever you arrive at your destination.
Finally, when you observe that your dog now walks calmly and stays by you while on the leash, try to reduce the treats he gets.
Use patience to leash train an older dog
Patience is one of the most important things you need for your leash training to be effective. You need to be patient with your dog and yourself throughout the process.
You have to cope with the slow and disjointed walks. The thing is breaking your dog’s old habit isn’t going to be an easy task. Besides, you are dealing with an older dog.
Avoid punishment leash training
The temptation to punish your dog for acting up would be high. The thought of using a chock chain, shock, and prong collar would be high on your list of corrective retraining techniques. But this should not be among your training tools.
You are trying to break a bad habit, not create one. So, avoid inflicting pain on your precious dog. When you use a chock chain, shock, and prong collar to leash train your dog, you are invariably helping the dog to associate pain with pulling.
Choose the right leash
Choosing leather leashes is not the issue. Though such leashes do offer some advantages with regards to durability, the primary goal is to select an ideal leash type to train your dog appropriately. Your reason for taking your dog outdoors for a walk is to break a bad habit that can endanger you and the dog in question.
So, for that reason, you would need a training leash to help your pup improve faster. The training lead might be short enough to keep your canine friend by your side as you walk.
Having your dog by your side courtesy of the kind of training leash you are using will make it easier and quicker to correct bad habits exhibited by the dog. So, do not hesitate to swap that regular leash for a properly designed training leash. You will start reaping the benefits in no distant time.
Consider your dog’s health before starting out
Have you considered going for a walk or jog with an injured knee or joint? You will undoubtedly feel uncomfortable throughout the exercise. Even if the wounded area is not severely affected, subjecting it to such strenuous activity can worsen the pain.
Before you leash train your dog or make it travel a long distance, ensure you pay a visit to the veterinary clinic. Let the vet doctor examine the dog and treat any underlying health issue before you think of leash training.
Leash training can wait until your dog is fit and healthy for any strenuous training or exercise. Keep in mind that you won’t get the best of attention from a sick dog.
Put on something reflective when embarking on an evening walk
Most dog owners prefer to walk their dogs in the evening. There is less distraction. The only thing that is of utmost concern to most dog owners is the risk of getting hit by a moving car or bike.
For that reason, it is advisable to wear something that will notify incoming vehicles of your presence. It should be something reflective so that whenever income vehicles focus their headlights on you, they won’t misjudge your position.
A reflective collar or leash (or both of them), will also make sense for your dog. So think about the safety of your dog while considering yours.
But if you have sidewalks in your neighborhood, you can leash train your dog there. You do not have to take your dog to a busy road for the training to be effective.
In short, your dog needs a calmer environment with less distraction, particularly when he is just starting the training process. It would be easier to handle the pulling and excitement the dog might probably exhibit under such conditions.
Stand still when your dog pulls
It is usual for a dog to pull on the leash, but avoid the temptation of pulling back. You are leash training to get rid of that ugly behavior, so have some patience. Pulling back will only give your dog a wrong conception about such acts.
Plus, when you pull back, you can harm your dog. So, instead of pulling the leash or angrily hit your dog, standstill whenever your dog pulls the leash. Remain on one spot until the dog stays calm, then you can continue your journey.
Again, the one thing you need to have for this exercise is patience. That is because you will be stopping in your track often before getting to your final destination. So you need to be extremely patient and be consistent in what you do. Otherwise, you won’t be able to leash train your dog effectively.
Keep information on ID tags updated
Have you ever thought of the possibility of your dog going off-leash while you are walking along the busy road? Let’s say he is lucky enough to escape the risk of being hit by a moving car; how do you plan to retrieve your lost dog?
Your dog can go off-leash anytime and place. It happens most of the time, many dog owners can relate to such experiences. But if you have the information of the dog in the ID tag intact, you do not need to worry that much. Your dog will be retrieved and brought back to you in no time.
So, try to keep the information on the ID tag up-to-date and, if possible, keep a few pictures of your dog. You may need them for a missing dog poster whenever the unexpected happens.
No dog owner wishes to experience such a case because it could be energy-draining and financially demanding. But it can happen to any dog owner. So, be prepared for surprises.
Finding an older dog pulling on the leash is a big embarrassment to a dog owner. Puppies can perform such acts and get away with it, not an older dog that everyone expects to well-behaved. So, if you have such a dog, your primary focus should be to leash-train and break those bad habits. Walking a calm dog will not only ensure the safety of the dog but yours as well.