“LET’S GO FOR A WALK!” This sentence alone brings joy upon joy to most pets. But did you know learning to do it the RIGHT way sets everybody up for success because it is directly related to all other training?

Yep it’s true learning the ABC’s of leash training directly relates to all other training as well. When your pet learns how to correctly walk on a leash it automatically establishes YOU the owner as the ALPHA Leader.

Why is this important? Because it reinforces respect for you in your pets eyes, which when done properly will motivate your pet to focus & listen quicker to what they are being asked to do. 

Training with a leash is a very big deal. Most people think it’s just about exercise for your pet. While that is partly true it’s only a small degree of how essential leash training is. Pets when on a leash get to show off their humans to all who are around…. Yep they are PROUD of you. Ever notice your pets body language? Their head and tails & are held high. The walk with a happy gate and they have a happy expression on their faces

Also it’s a very social time, not only are they bonding with you out in the great outdoors, they are communicating with other animals as well. This is why it’s important to let them sniff now and again to see who was there before them (it’s a pee pee calling card), and to leave their own personal calling card of urinating. A walk also helps them learn their neighborhood, by memorizing familiar smells and scenery.

So what are the foundational rules of training for a Dog & Cat?…

Leash Training for a DOG

1. Introduce him to the collar or harness and leash. Start out by letting him get used to wearing a collar or harness and a leash. Let him wear them for short periods of time during which you are playing with him and giving him treats. The puppy should love “collar and leash time” because it represents food and fun.

2. Teach a cue. Introduce your puppy to a sound cue that means “food is coming. I like treat motivation to begin. Then give the command “COME” in an ALPHA tone. Some people cluck their tongue or use a clicker. Whichever you use, the method is the same: Make sure your environment is quiet and distraction free. With the puppy on a leash and collar, give the command or make the sound. The second your puppy turns toward you and/or looks at you, reward him with a treat  and PRAISE After a few repetitions, you’ll notice your puppy not only looking at you, but also coming over to you for the treat.

3. Make him come to you. While he’s on his way to you, back up a few paces and then reward when he gets to you. Continue the progression until your puppy, upon hearing the cue noise or command, comes to you and walks with you a few paces. Remember that puppies have short attention spans, so keep your sessions short, and end them when your puppy is still eager to do more, not when he’s mentally exhausted.

4. Practice inside. Now that your puppy understands how to come to you on command, practice walking a few steps in a room with little distraction. Feeling and seeing the leash around him will be enough of a challenge. Offer treats and praise as your puppy gets used to coming to you with a leash on.

5. Take it outside. Finally, you’re ready to test your puppy’s skills in the Great Outdoors. There will be new challenges with the step as all the sounds, smells, and sights your puppy encounters will be both intriguing and new to him. While you’re on a walk, if your puppy looks as if he’s about to lunge towards something or is about to get distracted (you’ll notice this because you will keep your eyes on him at all times!), make your cue sound or give your command “COME”, and move a few steps away and reward his following you with a treat.

6. If he pulls: If your dog starts pulling in the other direction, turn yourself into “a TREE.” Stand very still and refuse to move until your dog comes back to you. Do not yank or jerk the leash, and do not drag your dog along with you. Alternative harnesses, like a head halter or front-hook harness, are designed for dogs who tend to pull.

7. If he lunges: If your dog is going after something while on a walk—another dog, a car, or skateboarder, for example—try to redirect his attention with a treat before he has a chance to lunge and create space between you and the target. This type of behavior is more common in herding breeds who like to chase. It is your job to focused COMPLETELY on your dog and not be distracted.

8. If he barks: Some dogs have the habit of barking at other dogs while on a walk. Oftentimes, this behavior comes as a result of lack of exercise. Make sure your dog gets the proper amount of mental and physical stimulation before you go on a walk. This should help with this challenge.  If this is still a problem create distance and offer treats before he starts to bark.

Above all… PRACTICE , PRACTICE, PRACTICE everyday so your dog will get used to this training

Leash Training for a CAT… YES I SAID A CAT 🙂

1.Know thy feline. Most cats, and especially kittens, can be trained to walk on a harness and leash.

Most will appreciate the opportunity to safely explore a new, exciting outdoor environment. But that is most cats … not all. If you suspect your cat would never in a million years be agreeable to walking on a leash, you’re probably right. But it can’t hurt to try…. PLEASE DON’T BE A BULLY! If your cat really isn’t into it back off.

2. Purchase a harness for the leash, not a collar. If your cat runs up a tree, a standard collar could strangle him, and a breakaway collar will detach. In addition, kitties are extremely flexible and able to fit through tiny, awkward spaces. It isn’t uncommon for cats to make like Houdini and find a way out of their collars. You don’t want this worry while you’re outdoors with your cat.

There are harnesses designed for cats, as well as walking jackets and kitty holsters. The leash attachment is toward the middle on these harnesses rather than at the neck, which is much safer and less stressful for your kitty. (If you fear your cat will never take to walks outdoors but you want to give it a try, buy your gear from a retailer with a liberal return policy.)

3. Start slow, take baby steps forward, and expect setbacks. As anyone knows who is owned by a cat, they are not dogs and will do what they want, when they want, for however long they want. But what many cat lovers don’t realize is most kitties do actually respond to food treats, verbal praise, and praise in the form of head pats and ear scratches.

Do your training sessions when your cat is hungry. Break treats into very small pieces – your kitty’s level of cooperation will decrease in direct proportion to how quickly her tummy gets full. Cats don’t have a desire to please their humans like dogs do, so food treats are their primary incentive. To insure you don’t overfeed, limit treat-giving to training sessions.

4. Before you even think about stepping outside you must get your cat used to wearing the harness and leash. Put the harness on your cat, making sure it’s snug but not too tight. The second you’ve got the harness on, before you let go of her, give her a treat. If she takes a step in the harness, give her a treat, praise her and pat her on the head. Repeat the treating and praising if she continues to move about in her harness.

If instead kitty drops to the ground, wait to see if she moves and give a treat if she does. If she seems frozen in place, or if her way of freaking out is to run and hide under something, remove the harness and give a treat as a peace offering. Try leaving the harness near your cat’s food bowl at mealtime and near her favorite napping spot for a few days to get her used to seeing it in places she associates with good things.

You can also hold the harness and a few treats and when/if kitty sniffs the harness, give her a treat. Next hold the harness against her body and offer a treat. As she sniffs the treat, slowly pull the harness away and let her eat the treat.

Giving treats immediately is crucial because your cat has an attention span of mere seconds, and you want her to connect a desired action with getting a treat.

As your cat learns to tolerate the harness and leash for longer periods, give her a constant stream of verbal praise, head pats and food treats while she’s wearing it. When she’s obviously done with a training session, meaning she’s dropped to the ground, her tail is switching, ears flattened – whatever signs she normally gives that she’s no longer enjoying herself – remove the harness immediately. You want to end the session with kitty feeling confident and in control. No teasing is ever accepted here.

5. Once your cat is walking around in his harness and leash in a normal manner, you can step outside the door. Depending on your pet’s temperament, you could easily spend the next month just getting down the front walk or onto the grass. Or … you could be taking kitty on real nature walks in 30 days. It just depends on how easily your cat adjusts to being outdoors and tethered to you.

6. If your neighborhood has lots of traffic noise, dogs, or other distractions that your cat views as threatening, try taking her to a quieter area where she’s less exposed to frightening sights and sounds.

7. Coax your cat a little farther on each outing. When he’s eagerly exploring a new area with his tail up, take another baby step.

8. Make sure your kitty doesn’t pick up anything in her mouth or lick anything. And no tree climbing for leashed cats. It’s too dangerous.

9. Don’t tie your cat’s leash to something and leave her outside, even for a minute. If something spooks her, she could get tangled in the leash. If she’s threatened by another animal or even a person, she can’t get away. Your kitty should never be outside unattended for any reason EVER.

10. Expect setbacks. Your cat might be okay in a new area on Monday and when you take him there on Tuesday, something freaks him out. Step back to the last place he was comfortable, and start moving forward with baby steps again. And unless your kitty is in harm’s way, resist the urge to pick him up if something spooks him. It’s better for his confidence if you can leave him on the ground.

Above all here you must have PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE

As always we are here to equip you with the tools and know how so you can be the best pet parents in the universe! If you want more in-depth leash training with your pets schedule your in-home pet session today! (310) 743-9643

Remember Pets Rule!