How would you feel walking in a crowded vet clinic, and suddenly, 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.
So, start following these practical tips to leash train an older dog.
Gather and assess all the materials you need
Before you leave your home intending to leash-train your dog, ensure you have all the necessary equipment. 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 nerves that come 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 starting proper leash training. Clip and unclip the leash on the dog for at least 7 to 15 minutes daily to desensitize your dog.
Reward and praise good habits
So, take a few dog treats when embarking on a leash training exercise.
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 must walk that way to reach his destination. You can also take it 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 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. Using a choke 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 offer some advantages regarding 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 like a figure of 8 lead. You will start reaping the benefits in no distant time.
Consider your dog’s health before starting out
Have you considered walking or jogging 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 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. Before considering leash training, let your vet examine the dog and treat any underlying health issues.
Leash training can wait until your dog is fit and healthy for strenuous training or exercise.
Remember that you won’t get the best 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.
Therefore, wearing something that will notify incoming vehicles of your presence is advisable. 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) 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 just starting the training process. It would be easier to handle the pulling and excitement the dog might 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 of such acts.
Plus, when you pull back, you can harm your dog. So, instead of pulling the leash or angrily hitting your dog, stand motionless whenever your dog pulls the leash.
Remain in one spot until the dog stays calm; then, you can continue your journey.
Again, patience is one thing you need for this exercise. That is because you often stop in your track before reaching your final destination.
So, you need to be extremely patient and consistent in what you do. Otherwise, you won’t be able to leash train your dog effectively.
Have you ever thought of the possibility of your dog going off-leash while you are walking along a 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 often, and many dog owners can relate to such experiences. But if you have the dog’s information in the ID tag updated, you do not need to worry that much. Your dog likely will be retrieved and brought back to you in no time.
So, 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.
Final thoughts on how to leash train an older dog
Finding an older dog pulling on the leash is embarrassing to a dog owner. Puppies can get away with being naughty, but everyone expects older dogs to be 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 ensure not only the safety of the dog but yours as well.