Leash training your dog is very important. Ideally, it should be started in puppy hood. Walking your dog on a leash is important essential to his safety. Even if you live in the country and usually let your dog have free reign, you will need to leash him during visits to the vet, during outings, and if he is to be boarded. Having your dog calmly accept the leash as opposed to fighting against it is not only safer for the dog, but keeps you in control and helps your dog to recognize you as the head of the pack.
The very first step to having your dog accept the leash is to hook it to his collar while he is indoors under your watchful eye. At first he will probably be wary of it, and maybe even a little frightened. Simply praise him as you put it on and give him a treat and/or praise during the times he is calm and accepting of the leash. Never praise your dog or comfort him for being frightened of the leash, or any other misbehavior concerning it, as this will be rewarding the wrong actions. Ignore any negative behavior related to the leash at this point while rewarding positive behavior- i.e. calmness, and soon your dog will view the leash as neutral or as something positive.
The next step will be to hold the leash. You will want to do this in very short sessions at first, being careful not to let your dog lead you around. Have your dog sit and stay while you hold the leash, and give rewards such as treats and praise. Another option is to tether the leash to you and go about your normal routine with your dog leashed to you. This will teach your dog to follow you and pay close attention to your cues.
Once your dog is accustomed to the leash and is not bothered by you holding it, it is time to lead him. You will want to have some treats handy in doing this at first. Stand holding the leash, with your dog on your left side. Encourage your dog to walk with you, by your side, by enticing him with a treat as you walk. Lead him on for a bit, then have him sit and give him the treat. Anytime your dog goes ahead of you and pulls on the leash, stop and stand perfectly still. When he gives the leash some slack and comes back to your side, move forward. Soon he will learn that if he wishes to move forward, he must not pull on the leash. He will improve as time goes on and you can gradually decrease the amount of treats that you give him during a leash walk.
If, after leash training your dog, he persists in pulling, you may need to use a special halter to use as a training tool. One such halter is the head halter. The head halter fits around the dog’s muzzle and joins together behind the ears. The leash is attached to a ring underneath the muzzle so that if the dog moves forward he literally has to turn around and look at you. This halter makes it not only virtually impossible for your dog to pull on the leash, it also causes him to focus his attention on you.
When leash training your dog, stay positive. If it seems that your dog is not progressing or has regressed, take a step back in your training. It is more beneficial to train slowly and make sure the dog knows what is expected of it, than to try to correct seemingly bad behavior. Devote at least a week to each step respectively, and always end training on a positive note. Do not conduct long, drawn out sessions. Two to three five minute daily training sessions will be sufficient to effectively leash train your dog.