Daily walks with your dog are a great way for you both to get some healthy exercise. Some dogs don’t mind wearing a leash, and may even bring it over to their owner when they want to get some fresh air together. But if your furry friend has a deep disdain for the leash or is scared of it, gearing up for a walk can be a frustrating challenge. In this blog, we’ll explore the reasons why your dog may hate the leash, and how you can make your dog more comfortable with it.

Why Does My Dog Hate the Leash?

Unfamiliar Sensations

Dogs, like humans, can be sensitive to new sensations. If your dog is a puppy or a rescue, they’ve likely never even seen a leash before. The feeling of a leash around their neck or body might be unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and scary to them. It’s crucial that you introduce wearing a leash to your dog gradually so they can acclimate to the sensation.

Negative Associations

Your pup might not like walking with a leash because of a negative association they have with it. 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 your dog past it.

But because your poor doggo can’t tell us why they’re 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 them of abuse they’ve suffered at the hands of a former owner, which may be the source of their 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 vet. Taking your dog on more walks and trips to the dog park can help your dog build more positive associations with the leash. It’s also important to get a leash and harness that fit comfortably to make walking more pleasant.

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 they’ve just never seen one! Especially if you adopt an older dog, they may approach the idea of being tethered with some degree of defiance. Your job is to show them that they’re safe with you leading them and that there’s nothing to be afraid—or ashamed—of.

Introduce your dog to the leash as if it’s a toy.

Letting your pup sniff, pick up, and even play with their leash will show them that it’s not so scary after all. Show it to them casually and see what they do. Then attach the leash to their collar or harness and let them trot around with it dragging on the ground, to help them get used to the feeling. Soon, they’ll see the leash is just another object, not something sinister or alien. Be sure to give them healthy treats throughout their process so they learn 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 them 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 the leash. 

Contact Us

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.

Photo by MabelAmber on Pixabay.