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Going for a walk with your dog is part of what makes pet ownership so wonderful. Of course, those walks can become a chore if you fight Fido on the leash the whole time. Fortunately, fun, stress-free walks are only a few training tips away. Check out some ideas below to begin leash training a puppy so all your walks together are relaxing and fun.

Why Leash Train?

The world is an exciting place. Buses stop and go. Other dogs play in the park. Oh, and the smells, so many smells. These stimuli can catch your pooch’s attention and lead them astray on a walk. They pull one way to explore and you pull back to keep them on track.1

This is why leash training for puppies is so important. With some basic communication and positive reinforcement, you can build a set of desirable leash behaviors. These skills will make your dog confident and comfortable on the leash around all kinds of activity.2

The Importance Of Puppy Training

The first few months of your puppy’s life are a crucial time for basic training. This is when they are most receptive to new ideas and new surroundings. Teaching your dog good manners early on can pave the way for lifelong learning.3

puppy on leash | Ultimate Pet NutritionHow To Leash Train A Puppy

Some people think that walking on a leash is something that comes natural to dogs. But, it’s an activity that requires training. Much like other good habits and learning, it’s often best to start when a dog is young. You can begin leash training for puppies early with some of the guidance below.4

Essential Leash Training Equipment

If you wear shoes that are too tight, then your walk can become miserable. The same is true for a dog’s collar and leash. A collar that’s too tight or a leash that’s too short can make your dog feel constricted and uncomfortable. This can alter how your dog behaves on walks.5

Pick The Right Leash And Collar

The right leash and collar can make all the difference. Go for a flat collar that fits snugly around your dog’s neck, but not too tight. The right-sized leash will also give your pup space to explore without yanking on you. A leash should be about four to six feet, depending on the size of your dog.6

Try A Harness

Consider a harness if your dog pulls a lot on the leash or appears uncomfortable in a collar. They fit around the body rather than the neck. This can prevent an excited dog from putting too much strain on their throat.7

Step-By-Step Guide For Dog Leash Training

walking dog | Ultimate Pet Nutrition

A well-controlled walk doesn’t need to look like a military-style-march. But, structure and basic dog training can keep things civilized on the sidewalk. These are some of the most basic skills and tips to know.

Introduce The Collar And Leash Early

You don’t even need to go outside to begin basic training. Let your young puppy wear their collar in the house to get used to the feel of it. You can even put the leash on and go for some practice laps inside. This will get them familiar with leash walking by your side without any distractions.8

Use Rewards And Positive Reinforcement

Treats are the most effective tool in your training kit. That’s because dogs repeat behaviors that offer them rewards. So, when they sit at the stop sign and wait for your eye contact, offer them a tasty morsel. These rewards will encourage them to repeat any good dog walking behavior that brings a treat.9

Keep in mind, that a good sniff on the fire hydrant may offer more satisfaction than the kibble in your pocket. So, it’s up to you to offer up a greater reward than whatever else is grabbing your dog’s attention.10

leash training a puppy | Ultimate Pet NutritionThese are common good behaviors to reward while dog walking on the leash:

  • Walking along your side or with a loose leash
  • Making eye contact with you, especially if there are lots of distractions
  • Stopping when you stop
  • Resisting the urge to pull at the sight of other dogs11

Encourage A Calm Reaction To The Leash

Dogs can become overly-excited when it becomes clear they are going on a walk. Discourage this behavior by putting the leash down until they calm down. A relaxed dog at the beginning can make for a more focused walk outside.12

Dog Training Exercise – Red Light, Green Light

Red light, green light is a great game to play with your dog to teach leash walking fundamentals. Start by walking with your dog in a distraction-free area. When they pull, stop – red light. Wait until they look at you or stop pulling. When the leash is slack – green light – you can start walking again and offer your dog a treat and praise.13

Practice Good Dog Walking Etiquette

Your puppy is new to the world and excited to make friends with every wagging tail on the trail. But, you should regulate this impulse. Ask other dog parents if it is safe and okay with them if your puppy says hello. This will keep everyone happy and prevent any unwanted scuffles.14

Common Problems With Leash Training For Puppies

Watch for some of these common issues and do your best to address them with the training tips above. Keep in mind that walking calmly on a leash can be hard for a dog. Take your time and offer plenty of treats. With regular dog training, you can begin to overcome these issues.15

dog pulling leash | Ultimate Pet NutritionShort Attention Spans

Remember that a puppy is a lot like a little kid. They are eager to learn, but they can also lose concentration quickly. If you are leash training a puppy, don’t become discouraged by these bursts of attentiveness. Do your training for short periods of time to accommodate your puppy’s attention span.16

Pulling On The Leash

Here’s a common scenario. You are on a walk with your dog and pull them away from a distraction. Instead of stopping, the dog pulls even more against the leash. This strange reaction happens because dogs have an opposition reflex. When you pull on the leash to control them, they instinctively pull against the tension.17

The best thing to do is simply stop. Pulling more won’t help the situation. Plus, it can also be bad for your dog’s neck and health. Wait until that leash is slack to keep them safe and discourage future pulling.18

Barking

Barking on the leash is another issue that pet owners encounter. One common reason for this behavior is an excess of energy. You may be able to turn down the bark levels by increasing your pup’s exercise and activity levels.19

Leash Training For Puppies – Important For Everyone

Small amounts of basic training will have a big impact on your life and your dog’s. When your pet knows what you expect on a walk, then they are less likely to pull or misbehave on the leash.

Reinforce good behaviors like loose leash walking early on with positive reinforcement. When your dog behaves well and responds to your queues, offer praise and treats. This will keep those evening strolls peaceful and enjoyable for the whole family.

Learn More:
Puppy Training Classes And Obedience Training For Adult Dogs: Where To Start
Puppy Training And Behavior: How To House Train A Puppy Or Dog
Puppy Pad Training: How To Housetrain Your Dog To Use A Potty Pad Or Pee Pad

Sources
1 https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/controlling-pulling-on-walks
2 http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/how-can-i-get-my-distracted-dog-to-pay-attention-to-me
3 https://www.veterinarianedu.org/2017/03/dog-obedience-training-and-the-importance-of-puppy-training/
4 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/teach-puppy-walk-leash/#:~:text=Training%20Your%20Dog%20to%20Walk%20on%20a%20Leash&text=The%20puppy%20should%20love%20collar,some%20people%20cluck%20their%20tongue.
5 https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-choose-the-right-kind-of-dog-leash
6 https://www.petmd.com/dog/training/evr_dg_tips-for-how-to-leash-train-a-dog#:~:text=Walk%20backward%20with%20your%20dog,reward%20in%20the%20hot%20zone.
7 https://www.petmd.com/dog/training/why-your-dog-wont-walk-leash-dog-training-health-issues
8 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/teach-puppy-walk-leash/
9 https://www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/how-stop-your-dog-pulling-leash
10 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/training-dogs-to-ignore-distractions/
11 https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/behavior/teach-your-dog-walk-loose-leash / https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/whos-walking-who-tips-to-teach-loose-leash-walking/
12 https://www.petmd.com/dog/training/evr_dg_tips-for-how-to-leash-train-a-dog#:~:text=Walk%20backward%20with%20your%20dog,reward%20in%20the%20hot%20zone.
13 https://www.sfspca.org/sites/default/files/dog_commands_loose-leash-walking.pdf
14 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/five-quick-tips-for-better-leash-walking-manners/
15 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/ask-our-trainers-teach-dog-walk-nicely-leash/
16 https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/puppy-behavior-and-training-training-basics#:~:text=When%20training%20is%20started%20at,method%20called%20food%2Dlure%20training.
17 http://www.vetstreet.com/walking-on-a-loose-leash#1_xpowlje8
18 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/ways-you-might-be-ruining-your-dogs-walk/
19 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/five-quick-tips-for-better-leash-walking-manners/