Tag: Leash

How to Train Your Dog to Walk on a Leash – Easy Loose Leash Training

Walking in the Woods with Husky

In my opinion one of the best things about having a husky is they’re a great excuse to get out of the house and go for a walk! Our husky Aura is much calmer than most but she still enjoys the adventure of new sights and smells that come with exploring our neighborhood and nearby parks.

At the time of this writing it’s the middle of summer here in Phoenix, Arizona so it’s usually too hot to go outside for long stretches of time, but when fall rolls around the weather will be more accommodating. This gives us plenty of time to teach Aura some good leash manners. Enjoying walks with your best friend is much more enjoyable when they’re not constantly trying to pull you to the ground in pursuit of the countless distractions of the world.

We’re currently going through a six-week training course through Petsmart and this week we’re learning about loose leash training. This is essentially getting your dog to walk next to or slightly in front of you while keeping slack on the leash. As usual I’ve done the research and assembled the best tips for how to train your dog to walk on a leash.

First we’ll cover the necessary things you’ll need to purchase before getting started, then we’ll go over loose leash training, troubleshooting some typical challenges that might arise, and finish with some additional parting tips.

Loose Leash Training Supplies

If you used our new dog checklist you should have everything you need already but if not don’t worry because I’ll cover that information here as well.

The first thing you’ll need is a suitable collar for your husky. I recommend a martingale collar as this is what we have for Aura and it works wonderfully. Martingale collars have an extra loop in them that tightens just enough to be uncomfortable if the dog pulls on it but can’t tighten so much that it damages their throat like a choke chain collar can. This functionality also keeps your dog from slipping out of the collar.

Pink 5 Foot Leash

Next you’ll need an appropriate leash for your pet. For loose leash training purposes a length of less than 6 feet is ideal. Any longer and it’s possible for your dog to get enough force running that they can hurt themselves. We have a pink leash that matches Aura’s collar and is just about 5 feet long.

The last thing you’ll need is something to help you hold your dog’s attention. In most cases dog treats are great but you can also use a favorite toy if your husky responds well enough to it. If you’re planning on purchasing treats from a store check out our top recommendations or if you’d rather make your own look into our recommended homemade recipes.

How to Train Your Dog to Walk on a Leash

Here is a step-by-step process for loose leash training your husky.

  1. Put the collar and leash on your dog. If your dog knows how to sit make them sit calmly before you put their leash on. If your pup isn’t used to wearing a collar or leash just let them hangout inside with both on, leash trailing behind, to get used to the sensation. Giving them treats and praise at this time will associate positive emotions with the leash and collar.
  2. Decide which side of you, left or right, your dog will walk on. It doesn’t really matter which side you choose, just that you’re consistent with it. Traditionally working dogs such as police and guide dogs are taught to walk on the left.
  3. With the dog on your preferred walking side, give the command ‘let’s go’ and begin walking forward. You can also use ‘follow me’ or any other string of words you’d like but again, remain consistent.
  4. As soon as your dog gets too far ahead and pulls on the leash, immediately turn around and take two steps backward. Careful not to yank on the leash, pull gently. You can also give an audible ‘uh-uh’ as soon as they pull on the leash to help them know what they’re doing wrong.
  5. Lure your dog back to your preferred walking side with a treat or toy. Anytime your dog looks up at you give them a treat or toy. This will teach your dog that they are rewarded for staying near you and for keeping slack in the leash.
  6. Again give the command ‘let’s go’ and begin walking in your original direction. From here you’ll simply repeat the last three steps until you reach your destination. This can take a long time depending on how persistent your dog is on pulling at the leash. Stay even more persistent with it though and your dog will learn that they need to pay attention to you to know where to go.
  7. Give your dog treats every few seconds if they are walking near you to reinforce the good behavior. As your pup gets the idea of what’s expected of them you can give treats out less and less frequently.

Some Typical Challenges And What To Do

Walking Husky in the Woods Short LeashFor some people their dog may trail behind or stop altogether during a training session. If this is the case try to lure them into catching up with a high value treat. If that doesn’t work bend down to your dog’s level and many times they will naturally want to come closer to you.

Some dogs love to bark and huskies especially tend to have a unique howl language they speak in. We’re lucky that Aura doesn’t howl too much, she does just enough for it to be ridiculously adorable. Some dogs are more talkative than others though and if you find your dog likes to howl or bark a lot simply stop where you’re at and don’t move until they stop. You can also give them a treat as soon as they do stop to reinforce the good behavior of not barking.

Often you’re not in a position to control outside distractions while walking your dog. They may become infatuated with something or someone outside of your control and in this case you will want to walk in the opposite direction of whatever the distraction is. Walking at a brisk pace will often help prevent your pup from getting distracted in the first place.

Final Tips

  • Before you begin your training session try to get your dog tired by playing with them or letting them run around in the Man walking red huskybackyard. A tired dog is less likely to pull and also less likely to bark.
  • Keep the leash short at first, forcing your dog to your preferred side. If your dog is progressing well and not pulling, gradually let out more slack.
  • Try a short walk that lasts about 5 minutes at first and then gradually work your way up to 15 minute sessions.
  • As you anticipate your dog about to pull on the leash, give an audible ‘easy’ to let them know they’re about to do something you don’t want.
  • If your husky is especially difficult to work with consider getting a chest-led (aka no-pull) harness or head halter which are more restrictive on the dog, inhibiting pulling behavior. If you go this route you should also consider enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer.
  • I mentioned it before but it’s worth repeating; be consistent and reward good behavior.

Further Reading

Hopefully by now you have basic knowledge on what it takes to loose leash train a dog, everything from the necessary training supplies to dealing with some typical challenges. For more information on training your dog to walk on a leash check out these resources from WebMD and The American Kennel Club.

 

 

New Puppy Checklist – New Dog Checklist

New Puppy Checklist

Bringing home a new dog of any age is a big decision that should be made together as a family. Even before we met Aura my partner and I knew that bringing home a dog would be a huge responsibility to share and had many open and honest conversations about it.

To help make sure you’re prepared to bring home your new pet use this new puppy checklist which doubles as a new dog checklist to make sure you have all the necessary essentials and then some.

Collar

There are many different types of collars for a new dog owner to choose from and each has its advantages and disadvantages. It might be a good idea to buy a variety to see what works best with your husky. Aura's blue martingale collar

For Aura we bought her a pink martingale collar that really brings our her eyes. Martingale collars are much gentler than a choke collar and much safer on the dog making them great for training purposes. To the right is a picture of the blue martingale collar that she came with.

ID Tag

In case your dog ever gets lost or escapes it’s a good idea to have an ID tag on them at all times. Huskies are especially adept at getting away so you may also want to get your pup microchipped as an added precaution.

We had a custom ID tag made at Petsmart and it was a very simple and easy process. We put Aura’s name and our address engraved on the front of her tag. On the back we had our names and phone numbers engraved. She is also microchipped so if and when she gets away from us anyone who finds her will be able to locate her home easily.

Leash

A leash is a very important essential for any dog owner to have. In Arizona a leash no longer than 6 feet is required by law if you have your dog out in public.

Like collars leashes come in a variety of styles but they’re all essentially just a rope you can attach to your dog’s collar to help keep control over them. We have two standard nylon leashes, one is about 3 feet and the other one is closer to 5 feet in length.

Dog Food

You’ll need something for your dog to eat when you bring them home and human food is unfortunately not going to cut it. Awhile ago I watched a documentary on Netflix called ‘Pet Fooled’ and it left me feeling like I don’t even want a dog because I’m going to end up killing it by choosing the wrong or contaminated food.

Our best advice is to do your own research and feed your pooch what you think is best, and stay consistent. If you elect to make any changes to your pet’s diet do it slowly so their stomach can acclimate to the new food.

Water and Food Dishes

At least one set of food and water bowls should be purchased before you bring your new pup home. Feeding them in the same place with the same bowls will teach them good eating manners and provide a perfect time for training.

Weighted stainless steel or chrome dishes are the best as they can’t be pushed around as easily or develop crevices from the dog chewing on it. If your dog is an outdoor dog and you live somewhere where it gets cold enough use a ceramic or plastic bowl as this will prevent your dog’s tongue from getting stuck to it in colder temperatures.

Treats

For many dogs treats are key for good training. In most cases nothing can hold the attention of a husky better than a delicious treat can.

Give treats to your dog to reinforce good behavior and to connect a good action to reward, or even just out of the blue every once in awhile to show you love them.

Chew Toys

Chew toys are a great thing to have around when you need your dog to entertain itself for a little while. These can also make good training treats if your dog responds well enough to them. Be sure to purchase new toys on a continuous basis to keep your pup interested and expose them to new experiences.

Aura absolutely loves toys that squeak and she can tear them to shreds within a day so we will definitely be buying her a variety of new chew toys on a regular basis.

Crate

Some people have an aversion to crates because they remind us of little jail cells but it doesn’t have to be that way. A crate Fold and Carry Dog Crate Box from Grreat Choiceshould be a safe sanctuary for your dog to run to when they are feeling anxious or afraid. If your dog is ever injured or you need to transport them somewhere it is much easier with a crate. Plus if you’re traveling with your pet many hotels will only allow crate trained dogs in their establishment.

We have a ‘Fold and Carry Dog Crate’ from Grreat Choice and it’s plenty big for our husky Aura. Its dimensions are 42 in L x 28 in W x 30 in giving her plenty of room to turn around and get comfortable in. We plan on eventually converting one of our closets into a custom space that can be used like a den for her.

Outdoor Kennel

Especially if your dog is an outdoor pet you should purchase an outdoor kennel which, similar to a crate, gives the dog somewhere they can retreat to the feeling of safety. If you don’t have a yard for your outdoor pup the kennel should be at least 6 x 12 feet and 6 feet high. Huskies are known to be good diggers and climbers when they want to get somewhere so putting it on a concrete slab is most ideal if possible.

We bought our house with adopting a dog in mind so our backyard is plenty big and has very high walls.

Grooming Tools

Here are a few grooming supplies to pick up before you bring your husky home.

  • Rake Brush – Huskies have two coats of fur and a rake brush can help get knots out and untangle hair.Rake Brush, Wide-toothed Metal Comb, Slicker Brush
  • Wide-toothed Metal Comb – Like the rake a wide-toothed metal comb or ‘collie comb’ can be used to further untangle matted fur and is a little gentler.
  • Slicker Brush – Once you have raked your husky’s undercoat out you’ll want to use a slicker brush to smooth the fur over and keep it fluffy and soft.
  • Spray Bottle – Filling this with water and using it when brushing matted fur out with a rake or collie comb can be very helpful. Depending on how your dog reacts to it and spray bottle can be used as a deterrent for bad behavior.
  • Dog Nail Clippers – Husk nails should be trimmed three to four times a year but be careful not to cut too deep or you’ll cut the quick and cause a lot of pain for your friend. You can always have a professional dog grooming service take care of this step if you’re concerned about messing up.
  • Dog Shampoo – Try not to bathe your husky too much or you will dry out their skin and fur. A few times a year is more than enough or whenever your pup gets into something nasty and makes a mess.
  • Small Tooth Brush with Dog Toothpaste – Toothpaste made for humans sometimes contain toxic ingredients to dogs so be sure to get tooth paste specifically made for dogs or just use water.
  • Grooming Table – It’s really nice to have a space dedicated to your pets grooming needs.

Dog Bed

Even if your dog sleeps in your bed it is important to get them a spot reserved especially for them. Feel free to put your dog bed in your dog’s crate or leave it somewhere else around the house that your dog is likely to nap.

Dog Door

A dog door isn’t necessarily a necessity but they are a nice thing to have for convenience. A good dog door will allow your pet in and out at will and certain models can do more than others such as letting your pup in but not back out or vice versa.

Gates

Baby or doggie gates can be used to restrict your dog’s access to certain parts of the house. We plan on purchasing one to teach Aura to stay out of the kitchen when dinner is being made.

Cleaning Supplies

Especially if you’re bringing a puppy home expect there to be mishaps and spills so here is a list of some cleaning supplies that will come in handy.

  • Paper towels – for when you inevitably need to clean a mess up.
  • Baby wipes – an easy way to wipe your dog down without a full on bath if they get into something icky.
  • Stain remover – if you have carpet anywhere in your house this will come in handy if there are any accidents.
  • Training pads – especially for puppies you may want to line the area they’ll be in with training pads while potty training.

Miscellaneous Extras

These items aren’t absolutely necessary to have but are very convenient to have!

  • Bag Dispenser – Having a place to keep all your doggie bags neat comes in handy. You can purchase the bags separately or like us just save and use plastic grocery bags.
  • Pooper Scooper – Especially if your yard is your dog’s main restroom one of these will make picking up after your pet much easier on your back. I try to go out and clear our yard of dog droppings once a week or so.
  • Food Scooper – If you monitor your dog’s diet a dedicated scoop that measures out the perfect amount of food is awesome to have.
  • Dog Literature – If you’re going to own a husky, or any dog for that matter, it’s good to do a little research on the breed. We recommend Siberian Huskies for Dummies by Diane Morgan as a good start.

A Whole Bunch of Love

The most important thing on this checklist is love. Dogs are very intelligent creatures that pickup on whatever energy you’re putting out there. If you’re stressed or angry they will know it. They’ll give you unconditional love and will know if you’re giving it back.

Bringing home a puppy or new dog is an amazing experience but can also be a stressful one. I hope this new puppy and new dog checklist helps prepare you a little better if you’re thinking about adopting a dog.

Leave a comment below with your new puppy checklist and let me know if there’s something I missed!

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