Leash training a dog or puppy involves teaching the dog to walk calmly on a leash without pulling or tugging at the leash. A special training tool called a Gentle Leader Head Collar provides a good tool to assist in training a dog or puppy to walk on a leash.
The Gentle Leader Head Collar is a specialized head harness made for a dog or puppy which resembles a harness used for a horse. The Gentle Leader Head Collar has two separate straps, one which fits around the muzzle of the dog or puppy and another which extends behind the ears.
The purpose of the Gentle Leader Head Collar is to allow the dog owner to gain control over the head of the dog or puppy. By properly controlling the head of the dog, the dog can be trained to walk properly on a leash without pulling or otherwise misbehaving. When using the Gentle Leader Head Collar correctly, a dog does not have the ability to pull because the handler is able to guide the dog's nose.
The Gentle Leader Head Collar can be used to prevent dogs from jumping, pulling or lunging while on a leash. It can also be used to control excessive barking while on a leash because it gives the handler the ability to close the dog's mouth as necessary.
Many people mistake the Gentle Leader Head Collar for a muzzle because of the way the head collar fits around the mouth. However, there are important differences between a muzzle and the Gentle Leader Head Collar. The Gentle Leader Head Collar allows the dog to open the mouth freely in order to eat, drink, play, pant, bark or perform any other activity as long as the handler is not exerting pressure on the collar to close the mouth.
Positive reinforcement should be used in conjunction with the Gentle Leader Head Collar when attempting to leash train a dog or puppy. With the Gentle Leader Head Collar installed on the dog's head, start by walking a few steps with the dog. Use the Gentle Leader Head Collar to encourage the dog to walk calmly at your side without pulling or tugging at the leash. When the dog walks calmly with you as asked, reward him with a favorite treat.
Repeat this exercise several times a day, restricting training periods to 10-15 minutes at a time. Keep the training exercises fun for the dog and be generous in rewarding with treats when appropriate. Do not punish the dog if he does not perform up to expectation. Simply return to the exercise when the dog is in a more calm and relaxed state.
Soon, the dog or puppy will be walking on the leash at the handler's side whether wearing the Gentle Leader Head Collar or not. Once the dog is consistently walking beside the handler as asked, the Gentle Leader Head Collar can be removed. If the dog returns to the previous undesirable behavior of pulling or tugging at the leash, simply use the Gentle Leader Head Collar again for a time, until the dog is once again walking calmly and quietly beside the handler.
Choke chains and spiked choke collars are sometimes used to train dogs and puppies to walk on a leash. However, many dog handlers now feel that these types of devices are inhumane. Additionally, these devices work by placing pressure on the throat of the dog which may actually make the dog pull even harder in response.