Walking together on a leash is potentially the most beneficial activity a person can share with a dog. It can and should be a joy – a relaxing, calming, bonding activity. Make that your goal, and be willing to work at it.
Be confident. Channel someone who is completely confident, and walk with presence, determination, and purpose: chin up, shoulders back, chest out. One foot in front of the other, and remember – leaders lead.
Consider allowing the dog to walk on either side, as appropriate given traffic, pedestrians, other dogs, and the physical environment.
Start off on the left foot every time, and end on the right foot every time, regardless of which side the dog is walking on. They will adjust.
If the dog goes ahead, gently change direction, and speak to them so they know you are moving in a new direction.
Don’t get into a tugging contest with the dog –avoid Opposition Reflex!!! If the dog pulls, move laterally and then in the other direction, so the dog moves sideways and then around the way you want them to go.
Be gentle and calm, but firm and unrelenting. Allot a certain amount of time, and if you only get one block in that amount of time, so be it. It takes practice and time to get it right.
Remember, this is a cooperative effort between two different species. That is a remarkable thing! Don’t allow it to become a contest of will or strength. Think of it as a team sport.
Talk to your dog constantly at first. Use a steady, calm voice. What you say for this part is irrelevant. It is the tone that matters.
Stop and reward often. You can and should be more interesting than whatever is going on around the dog.
Walking a dog is a skill that is developed over time with practice, effort, and attention. Think about what you are doing, and make efforts toward improving.
Bring a cell phone for emergencies, but turn it off – keep your attention on your dog.
Avoid iPods, dark sunglasses, or anything else that makes it hard for your dog to communicate with you. If they don’t have your attention, why should they behave the way you want them to?