How to Leash Train a Puppy

Three Parts:Acclimating the Puppy to a Collar and LeashLeash Training the PuppyContinuing your Training into Doggie Adulthood

Learning how to walk on a leash is one of the most important skills you can teach your puppy. Not only does walking your dog provide much needed exercise for your growing puppy, but it will improve overall obedience and responsiveness. The keys to successful leash training are consistency and patience. Remember this in all parts of training your puppy, and you are likely to share many happy walks together.

Part 1
Acclimating the Puppy to a Collar and Leash

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    Be patient. This is the most important part of introducing a puppy to a leash and collar for the first time. No puppy has ever learn to be perfect on a leash in one day. Proper training involves confident, calm, and consistent practice with the dog.
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    Develop a reward system. The easiest method is rewarding the puppy with small, easily chewable treats. These are tasty rewards for the puppy that are also quick enough to avoid distracting the dog from his training.
    • Sometimes just playing a game of fetch or tug-of-war can be enough of a reward to reinforce positive behavior.[1]
    • Another good reward system, albeit more complex, is clicker training. The clicker allows you to more easily communicate what exactly your dog is doing right by making a clicking noise and delivering a treat when he does you like.[2]
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    Choose a collar and leash. A flat, light collar and light leash are great to begin with and allow your puppy to get accustomed to having something around his neck. There is no need to get any crazy choker collars, especially while the puppy is small and timid.[3]
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    Allow your puppy to get used to the collar. It is not uncommon for puppies to get nervous when attaching a collar for the first time. Some puppies will throw tantrums or try to chew on the collar. There are some general strategies you can try if your new pal doesn’t seem to like his collar.[4][5]
    • Distract the dog. Try putting the collar on while you are playing with him, or while you’re out in the yard.
    • Reward the puppy. Bring out his favorite treat or toy, and give one to him as soon as you put the collar on.
    • Loosen the collar. The collar should be snug around his neck, but not tight to the point which it causes discomfort.
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    Introduce the leash. This can also cause some dogs to go crazy, while other dogs simply shut down and won’t move. The first time you attach a leash, drop your end on the ground and let him run around. Play with the puppy, or introduce him to another dog and let them play while the leash is still dragging around. Make sure he doesn’t get tangled in this process. Pick up the leash occasionally and call the dog to you, offering treats when he comes.[6]

Part 2
Leash Training the Puppy

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    Create a calm environment. Many dogs get extremely excited upon seeing a leash, and will bark, whine, or spin. If this is the case, stand perfectly calm with the leash in hand until he calms down. Remember to stay calm during your walks, the dog will pick up on your energy and are more likely to remain calm if you lead by example.[7][8]
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    Carry treats with you. You should get in the habit of carrying small, easily chewable treats for your puppy during the training process. If the treats are too large and take too long to chew it can interrupt the training process. Some examples of good treats for training are small chunks of a hot dog or little pieces of cheese.[9]
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    Be supportive and patient. Let the puppy adjust to the idea of being on a leash. If the dog looks nervous, bend down in front of him and pet him. You can also offer the dog small treats as you walk. Be patient with your pup as he gets used to being on a leash. You don’t need to reward bad habits, but there are simple and effective ways to deal with bad behavior without getting upset.
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    Stop bad behavior. You can stop bad habits from developing by addressing them every time they occur. Remember, you do not need to get angry and yell or hit the dog. There are more constructive and positive ways to reinforce good behavior without losing your cool. Some common examples of bad behavior and how to address them are below.
    • The puppy pulls the leash. As soon as this happens, stop walking and stand still. Don’t yank on the leash, just let the dog know that, when it pulls, it gets nowhere. Call the dog back to you, and give him a treat when he comes. If you consistently and calmly do this every time he pulls, he will quickly learn not to.[10]
    • The puppy sits or lays down. When a puppy resists going for a walk, take a few steps away, call him, and offer a treat. Start walking until your puppy resists again, and repeat the process. Again, with calmness and consistency, the puppy will learn to enjoy walking and being on the leash.[11]
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    Be consistent. This is the most important part of any kind of dog training. The dog is eager and happy to learn, all he needs is for you to properly communicate your expectations. When you consistently reward positive behavior and stop bad behavior, the dog will develop good behavior. However, if you are inconsistent and let the puppy pull on leash frequently, he will have a hard time knowing what you want.[12]

Part 3
Continuing your Training into Doggie Adulthood

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    Walk your dog frequently. Continue to take your dog for walks, multiple times a day if possible. This will allow to continually reinforce good walking practice for your dog so he doesn’t forget his training. Remember to stay patient while not rewarding negative behavior.
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    Stay in front. This establishes that you are in control, and increases the dog’s obedience on the leash. You may need to shorten the leash, and stop moving if he tries to pull. Call him back, give him a treat, and repeat. Continue to shorten the leash over time until he’s used to walking right at your side or just behind you.[13]
    • Remember to stay calm and attentive. Don’t play on your phone, or get tense or angry.
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    Pay attention to other dog owners. If you are walking along a sidewalk or trail and notice a dog owner who seems to be nervous or weak, be prepared to deal with undesired behavior from their dog. Keep walking forward with your dog at your side, rewarding him with a treat if he does not pull on the leash in an effort to play with the other dog.[14]
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    Choose proper walking equipment. If your dog is prone to pulling, use a short leash (four to six feet). No-pull harnesses can decrease pulling, while regular body harnesses usually encourage the dog to pull. Avoid using retractable leashes, which make your job of training the dog significantly more difficult. Choker chains and prong collars often do not provide any advantage, unless training with a certified professional dog trainer.[15]

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Categories: Dog Obedience