Initial practice should be kept indoors so that your pup is in a familiar environment and is less likely to be distracted by various sights and sounds. Remember to use treats and plenty of praise when your dog is calm and when he is walking (not pulling) or when he comes to you when you call him. If he frequently pulls on his collar or harness, make sure to adjust the size so that he can’t accidentally slip out of it!
Once your dog is comfortable with his leash, you can move outside. If you have a fenced-in yard, this is a great place to get started. Keep the initial outdoor walks very short because many dogs can be easily distracted with new smells and sights. Reward your pup with a treat every few steps where he is calmly walking and use your clicker to associate the sound with positive experiences.
Pulling and jumping should not be rewarded, and you may need to turn your dog around to avoid whatever is making him excited. You can also stop walking altogether and remain perfectly still until your dog comes back to where you are standing. In some cases, particularly if you cannot regain your pup’s attention, it may be best to go home and try again another day.
Once your dog has become comfortable walking with his leash and is more attentive to your instructions, you can reduce the number of treats he receives. Over time, you might condition him to walk or even run alongside you on a loose leash.
If your pup still seems to be having trouble, you can switch to a different collar or harness type. Dogs who are too anxious for training may need supplements or medications to help calm them, and professional dog trainers are available to help with teaching dogs of all shapes and sizes. Trainers and veterinary professionals can also help ensure that your dog’s harness or collar is applied correctly.
Leash training is important for your dog’s protection and for a number of conditions where running needs to be intensely restricted. Training older dogs can seem daunting but with patience and plenty of positive reinforcement, dogs can learn to walk on a leash very quickly. If you are having trouble at any time, be sure to reach out to a dog trainer or a veterinary professional for more information.