Family teaching purebred dog leash etiquette

Dog Leash Etiquette: What to Know and What to Avoid

With the summer weather finally upon us, getting the dog out for a great walk is our top priority. Leash walking your dog has many benefits and setting yourself up for success is well worth the effort. But are you aware that there are a few dog leash etiquette rules you should be following?

While it is fun to get out for a hike in the woods or a romp at the park, the added benefit of well-trained leash walking is getting a stress relieving workout. Sustained aerobic activity can be improved by a slower warm up, gently increasing intensity and speed and ending with a more relaxing paced gait.

Dog Leash Etiquette Matters

In order to achieve this, your dog needs to know his leash manners. Dog leash etiquette is very important, but especially in high density areas. If you find your dog lunging out to his buddies, becoming increasingly vocal or jumping on unsuspecting strangers, it’s time to set your training goals.

First, make sure you have some leash walking skills under your belt. There is little use pulling back on the leash over and over again, expecting a different result.  Sometimes the use of a no-pull harness or head halter will help you show your dog what is expected.

The use of adversives (prong or choke collars, shock or spray corrections, etc.), however, when walking/training your dog should be avoided, as the fall-out from these tactics can lead to increased aggression. Instead, get into a training class that uses motivational techniques to brush up on your handling skills.

You Get More Flies With Honey!

Make sure you reward your dog for what you do want, rather than continuing to indicate what you don’t want. It is fine to use a toy or favorite treat to reward your dog for walking at your side. The more he realizes he will get what he wants for being compliant, the more he will aim to succeed.

What if your dog is lunging and barking? Simply asking them to stop often makes the issue worse. Leash reactivity is a real thing for many dogs, and its basis is fear. If you pull on the leash, and chastise them for their actions, it can result in escalation of the issue.

Addressing fear with confrontation rarely works. Instead, use some pro-active dog leash etiquette by creating some distance between the two pups. And again, if it’s a continuing problem, consider getting proper assistance from a very experienced trainer.

Sit, Stay, Lie Down

Our dogs need to understand they need to wait for our permission to say hello. By teaching them the basics, you will be able to better communicate with your dog.

If a stranger wants to pat your dog, ask your dog to sit/stay and then guide the stranger to gently approach. Indicate to your dog that he can say hello. If your dog gets up, it is back to basics and more work on stay is needed.

While many people want to let their dog say hello to every person and every dog, this can back fire. Some dogs will then expect this situation to occur each time and can get overly excited. And some dogs simply prefer to walk on by, not thrilled to have a stranger approach, and their comfort level should be first and foremost for us.

It is fine to pick and choose. It will be fine to pass someone and not stop. You may get a few odd looks, but it is more important that we do what is best for our dogs.

Don’t Allow for Misbehaviour

And last, but certainly not least – it is not acceptable for our dogs to be rude. Plain and simple. They are ambassadors for all dogs. Jumping up is not polite. There are people that don’t love dogs or may be fearful of dogs. Saying the dog is friendly is not enough.

But if we can show them our pup’s proper manners, and perhaps a trick or two from a distance, we may win them over…one dog at a time!

Author Bio and Link:

Gillian Ridgeway is the founder of Who’s Walking Who dog training centres, as well as Toronto based pet boutique Paws For Thought. She’s a founding member of both the Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers and International Positive Dog Trainers Association and believes that education combined with experience is the key to helping clients teach, and manage, their dogs.

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