Let’s be honest—the idea of wearing a leash isn’t a very pleasant one. Who wants to be directed where to go all the time? Some dogs have no problem being tethered to their owner on a leash, but other dogs hate it. If you’ve just rescued your dog, it’s possible he’s never even seen a leash. How do you entice your dog to use a leash when he has no interest in doing so? Our team at East Valley Animal Hospital in Gilbert, AZ understands the frustration. Here are a few tips on how to make your dog more comfortable walking on a leash.
Why Does My Dog Hate the Leash?
Your pup might dislike walking because of a negative association he has with the leash.
Dogs are emotional creatures who retain memories by attaching them to people, smells, and items. The sight of a leash may trigger negative emotions in your dog. If you can try to determine where this fear began, you may be able to move our dog past it. But because your poor doggo can’t tell us why he’s scared of the leash, there’s no knowing for sure. Instead, focus on this question: What emotions does your dog display when the leash comes out? Scared? Angry?
If your dog is a rescue, a leash may remind him of abuse he’s suffered at the hands of a former owner, which may be the source of his anxiety. Luckily, there are trained professionals who can help your dog work through past trauma.
Alternatively, your dog may have learned through experience that being put on a leash leads to a bath, or a visit to the home of your least favorite cousin and her mean cat. Put yourself in your pup’s shoes as best as you can.
Ease Your Dog Into It
Is your dog new to the leash world? The issue may not be that your dog hates the leash—maybe he’s just never seen one! Especially if you adopt an older dog, he may approach the idea of being tethered with some degree of defiance. Your job is to show him that he’s safe with you leading him and that there’s nothing to be afraid—or ashamed—of.
Introduce him to the leash as if it’s a toy. Letting your pup sniff, pick up, and even play with his leash will show him that it’s not so scary after all. Show it to him casually and see what he does. Then attach the leash to his collar and let him trot around with it dragging on the ground, to help him get used to the feeling. Soon, he’ll see the leash is just another object, not something sinister or alien. Be sure to give him healthy treats throughout this process so he learns to have a positive association with the leash.
Lead your dog to fun places. Focus on showing your pup that there are lots of fun places to go on a leash, like to the dog park or to go play fetch. Either spend a whole day taking him to fun-filled places via leash, or start including a trip to the park on all, or most, walks. This will also help your pup develop a positive relationship with his leash.
Walking is an essential part of maintaining your dog’s overall health and happiness. If your dog hates walking on a leash, please let us know at your next appointment with us at East Valley Animal Hospital in Gilbert, AZ. Your dog’s wellbeing is our number one priority.