Walking your Golden Retriever on a leash around your neighborhood, dog park, or even your own front yard should be an enjoyable and positive bonding experience for both of you.
Knowing the do's and don'ts of leash training and etiquette is extremely important. Here are some tips that will hopefully assist with your Golden's mastering and comfort level of being on a leash.
Do start your walk with a calming energy. A dog that is excited before he leaves the house will only get more excited once you get outside. When you get to the door, calm your dog and have him sit before you go out. The leader always gets to go through the door first. If your dog bolts out first, bring him back in and try again.
Do walk at a brisk pace. This helps keep your dog’s attention on the walk and not on everything he smells. Dogs get distracted very easily by all of the smells "the great outdoors” have to offer. The slower you walk, the more smells they will be able to pick up along the way thus making them more distracted. Instead, walk your dog briskly ensuring that they are more engaged.
Do stop every time you feel tension on the leash. Your dog continues to pull because he continues to be rewarded for the experience. He pulls and he gets to the car. He pulls and he gets to greet that other dog in the neighborhood. He pulls and the lady across the street tells him how lovely he is. If you want your dog to stop pulling, don’t take another step as long as the leash is tight.
Do walk your dog at least 30 minutes twice a day if possible. It is the best way you can ensure you will have a happy, healthy, and well-adjusted dog. The walk is the foundation of your relationship. Walking your dog provides an outlet for his energy. A long walk can significantly calm a hyper or overactive dog.
Do praise your dog when he is walking politely. You will need to carry treats for rewards as you train. Make them special ones that your dog only gets while on walks. Whenever your dog is walking politely, say in a happy upbeat tone “Good Walk!” and give him a treat. Eventually, you will want to wean him off the treats once he is getting the idea, but you should always continue to let your dog know when he is behaving in a way that pleases you.
Don't expect your dog to walk nicely on a leash if he only gets walked every once in awhile. Dogs have lots of energy and they need an outlet for this energy. Many pet parents feel that yard time is sufficient enough outdoor time for a dog --- especially if they have a large yard. This is unfortunately not the case.
Don't let your dog choose the pace or the direction of the walk. A dog must not be allowed to sniff or eliminate anywhere he wishes other than where you allow him. Your dog should be concentrating on following his leader --- you --- and not worried about leading the way. You must lead your dog out of your house meaning he must walk behind you as you walk out the door. If he skips ahead of you before you exit, bring him back in and do it again.
Don't stop every time your dog wants to smell something. Remember, you are the pack leader. You decide where the dog is to sniff, go potty, and roll around while on the leash. Pick a few times during your 30 minute walk to allow for these activities. Try to choose a different place each time so they don’t form habits and expectations that are directly linked to these areas.
Don't verbally or physically correct your dog for pulling. Giving him angry verbal corrections will only increase his energy and will exasperate the problem. Physical corrections can lead to fear and anxiety issues and possibly inflict severe injury as well. The best course of action is to just stop, take a deep breath, and wait for your dog to calm down. Once he is in a calm and submissive state, you can continue your walk.
With a little patience, these methods will work well for your Golden Retriever and will also help you to form a close bond with your dog. However, some dogs are a little more difficult and may be a little harder to train. This does not mean you’ve got a bad dog. It just means you’ll need to work a little harder to get the desired response.
Your dog will quickly learn that walking alongside you at your pace gets him a lot of vocal praise. It may take a few days (or weeks), but if you are consistent in your training and reward him accordingly, your Golden Retriever will soon be responding eagerly to your cues, energy, and positive body language.
Any specific leash training tips that have worked well for you and your Golden in the past? Please share with us at GRRA. We'd love to hear from you. Have a Good Golden day, everyone!