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How to Leash Train a Dog that Won’t Walk?

Large brown dog laying on leash laying down on sidewalk

Leash pulling is a common problem with dogs and many owners have to face this issue while training their pups. In contrast to that, some canines have the exact opposite problem. They simply go on lease strike and doesn’t move an inch, no matter how hard you try.

Why is My Dog Refusing to Walk?

The refusal to walk might give an impression that your dog is doing that out of stubbornness. However, that’s not true in most cases because several underlying causes can lead to this behavior. The following are some of the common reasons due to which a dog won’t walk on a leash.

Going Too Fast

Black Labrador Puppy on a red leash refusing to walk

Most breeders don’t introduce very young pups to a leash or even a collar. For this reason, it can lead to a serious problem if you try to go quickly with leash training. For instance, your super-active dog may refuse to walk completely (due to stress) when you push the issue early on.

In these cases, you need to keep patience and progress gradually to ensure a positive experience for both parties. Forcing the canine will do more harm than good because he/she will become more distressed.

Lack of Exposure

French bulldog on red leash laying on asphalt refusing to walk.

Just like puppies, it is possible (although rare) that some adult dogs may not be familiar with a leash. This type of behavior is generally observed in rescue dogs because they come from all kinds of backgrounds. The feeling of something wrapped around the neck is enough for these dogs to decide that they won’t walk.

Uncomfortable Leash or Collar

Brown and white dog biting on leash

It is important to ensure that the process of leash training is safe and comfortable for your dog. The leash you purchase must fit properly around the neck because oversized products can be frustrating. Similarly, buying a collar that is too tight can cause chafing or pinching.

Some people opt for traditional collars (electric, choke, etc.) that use pain to train. These products are highly NOT recommended because the dog can develop a negative attitude towards leash training.   

The Dog is in Pain

Black and white puppy laying in grass refusing to move

Sometimes, a dog may refuse to walk on a leash because he/she is in pain. Dogs are naturally quite good at hiding pain, and you can need professional help to diagnose the exact problem. Some of the reasons that can make leash walks uncomfortable include orthopedic issues, over-activity, and tick-borne diseases.

Fearfulness

Close up of head of brown dog laying on a pillow

If you own a canine that hasn’t be socialized properly at an early age, he/she will be reluctant to walk. The very thought of going into the outside world can make such pups fearful. Lack of socialization can also make your companion uncomfortable in the presence of unknown people. Therefore, it is quite a challenging task to leash train these canines.

Techniques to Leash Train a Dog

Husky puppy on a leash being trained

Once we have understood the hurdles for leash training, we need to figure out the ways to encourage positive behavior. The following are some of the methods that you can use to leash train your dog.  

Select a Suitable Gear

red dog leash on white background

It is extremely important to have the right product beginning the leash training. The collar should NEVER fit too tightly around the canines’ neck as it can lead to chafing and soreness. Similarly, it shouldn’t be too loose because it will affect the effectiveness of the corrections.

You should always keep in mind that the pulling power of a dog comes from his/her chest. For this reason, harnesses are NOT a good option to leash train your pup. However, a No-Pull Harness can prove quite handy for controlling negative behavior.

Make sure that both the collar and leash are in fine condition and won’t break under unexpected pressure. Likewise, the clip of the leash should be secure to prevent any unwanted incident.

Rule Out Medical Issues

Dog on exam table at vet with owner

If your dog is unwilling to walk on a leash, the first thing you need to worry about is an injury. Gently examine the paws of your canine to find any bruise, cut, thorn, nail, or swelling. If you succeed in finding any physical injury, let the dog heal before continuing the leash training.

On the other hand, if you can’t determine what’s wrong with your pooch, visit a veterinarian to discover the cause. It is very much possible that the dog is hesitating to walk because he/she is developing a pain point. In these circumstances, discuss different treatment and pain management options with the vet to find a suitable solution.

Familiarize Your Puppy to the Leash

Black labrador puppy with red leash and collar sitting on tiled patio

This step serves as the foundation of leash training, and you must plan it accordingly. Once you have hooked the leash to your dog’s collar, let him/her get used to it. For this purpose, allow the pup to run around the house without holding the leash. Having said that, do supervise your pet during this process so that he/she doesn’t get caught on anything.

Let the dog drag the leash around for a few minutes before rewarding him/her with a treat. Repeat this exercise daily (3-5 times). When the puppy seems comfortable with this activity, pick up the handle end of the leash without applying any pressure. Call him/her in a happy tone and offer a delicious treat when he/she obliges to the command.

Keep repeating this activity multiple times for a few days. This will teach the pup that the leash is not associated with anything negative (like restriction). When your dog starts walking close to you in anticipation of the next treat, step outside, and continue this exercise.  

Keep the Training Sessions Short and Positive

German Shepherd puppy on a leash in nature with head tilted

If the puppy is responding well to the leash training, it is crucial to keep the positivity going. For achieving this goal, it is important to provide your pet with an opportunity to enjoy the surroundings. You may drive your pooch to a completely new place to ensure that he/she is enjoying the training. It is always an advantage to carry some extra treats and your pup’s favorite toy to assist you.

In some cases, you may observe that the dog stops after walking for a while. This could be a sign that your canine is getting tired and/or hot. If you observe anything on these lines, it is highly recommended to end the training session. Always remember that it can take weeks or even months to leash train a dog into a confident walker.   

Recommended Dog Training Courses for Leash Training a Dog that Won’t Walk

There are two online video based training courses that I recommend.

  1. Doggy Dan – The Online Dog Trainer
  2. Brain Training for Dogs

These two courses serve two very different purposes. The Doggy Dan course is the best behavioral training course that I’ve ever used. It tackles problem behaviors like barking in ways that are innovative and kind and most of all WORK.

The Brain Training for Dogs course is a course that will help give curious and bored dogs something to do so that they don’t get destructive. Bored dogs often behave badly. The games in this course are fun to play with your dog and they go from easy to very advanced. If you think your dog is barking out of boredom this video course is a good choice.

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