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Pet Talk

June 29, 2020

We need some tips on using a leash for a dog. What are the best practices? — Dog Lover

Dear Dog Lover: The most common issue owners have when walking a dog is dealing with a dog that pulls at the leash. It’s important to understand: It’s not “natural” for a dog to be on a leash. Learning how to behave when leashed will not happen overnight and requires patience and consistency on the part of the owner.

There are harnesses that will help a dog understand how to walk — these generally have a strap across the chest so a dog “feels” the connection more thoroughly.

When dealing with any leashed pet, understand there are two ends of the leash. A nervous owner will transmit anxiety right down the lead, and your dog will pick up on that uncertainty right away.

Our Be PAWSitive community responded with a variety of helpful tips.

Longtime dog owner Deb O’Hanlon explains that when you are using a leash, “You have to be the alpha dog. Don’t let your dog be alpha, even if their personality is dominant.”

Patricia Noonan has found that a dog’s personality makes a difference on leash length: “Our Boston terrier likes a longer leash to explore, while our smaller dog likes a shorter leash to be close to me when walking.”

Rules to keep in mind: Keep your dog on the left side or behind you, never be in front of you. Don’t use a retractable leash, which can cause injury to dog or humans.

Therapy-dog owner Vicki Hengen Little advises: “Practice a lot of ‘stop sits and waits at crosswalks.” And everyone agrees that using treats helps a lot!

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