You’ve already adopted your German Shepherd, either a puppy or an adult dog, and now you’re ready to take your new companion for a walk. If you’re one of the millions of pet owners who have problems walking their dog on a leash, due to pulling, tugging, barking, choking, etc., then you might want to look into leash training your new dog or puppy. The benefits to leash training your new friend are insurmountable – you will both benefit from it, and you will definitely get along better during walk time!
Choosing a Leash
Depending on how much your German Shepherd pulls or how much strength he or she is demonstrating while on the leash, you might want to invest in a harness, especially for larger dogs. Harnesses go around the dog’s legs and under his or her stomach, giving better control for the dog’s handler, and less of an ability for the dog to hurt itself if it starts to pull away from you while out walking. Harnesses vary in sizes and colors, so you have the option to choose one that fits your needs. You can easily clip a leash onto the harness’s hook around the dog’s shoulders, so that you can walk with a lot more ease as opposed to just clipping the leash to the dog’s collar.
For dogs with mild leash training issues, you might still be able to get away with using your retractable or standard leash around the collar, although many veterinarians recommend a harness.
Tips for Leash Training
The first thing you should try when leash training your pup is to avoid moving as much as possible when your dog pulls. If he or she is trying to run, don’t let them take control – if the dog keeps pulling on the leash, wait until he or she looks back at you, and then walk in the opposite direction from where your dog is trying to go. This shows them that you are in charge on the walk, and if they want the walk to continue, they will learn to stop pulling. Just be sure you don’t pull the leash too hard, or you can hurt your dog!
Have your German Shepherd walk next to you! Not only will it give the dog a sense that you’re bonding, but he or she will learn not to run ahead and pull. If the length of the leash is too long, try using a shorter leash to encourage your German Shepherd to walk next to you.
Use positive reinforcement! If your dog does well on a walk (or even presents remarkable behavior during the walk, be sure to reward him or her! If you tell your dog to come over to you, and he or she does, make sure to give a treat! Once your dog realizes that you’re offering treats for good behavior, he or she will remember to repeat that behavior in the future.
Keep treats with you during your walk, and if you go on long walks, be sure to provide your dog with water – a collapsible water bowl is handy!