While playing with your puppy is fun and provides some exercise, walking your puppy is the best way to help him expend pent up energy and calm his mind. Though some puppies are initially wary of wearing a collar and a leash, these leash training tips will have you proudly walking a well behaved, happy pup sooner than you ever thought possible.
Choosing a Collar
A collar is a functional accessory that your dog will wear around his neck. The collar can attach to a leash or a harness when it’s time to go for a walk and it can also be used to hold any dog tags or documentation that you received when you registered your puppy. There are collars on the market that can also be used to train your dog and instill good behaviors. Small dogs do well in a harness so they can’t slip out of their collars. Harnesses can work well for puppies of all breeds.
When you are gathering your supplies, buy items that can grow with your puppy. Collars should be adjustable and checked frequently for a proper fit. Your puppy will grow quickly and you do not want his collar to be too tight or uncomfortable. When fitting your puppy’s collar, be sure that you can fit two fingers between the collar and his neck. This measurement will ensure that the collar is snug enough to keep your puppy secure, but won’t be tight and uncomfortable. When you’re shopping for collars, make sure the collar you select has a sturdy metal ring to attach the leash to when you begin to leash train and walk your puppy.
Choosing a Leash
The leash accompanies the collar, especially if you don’t have an outdoor space where your puppy can run free. It might seem like walking on a leash should be second nature to your puppy, but it’s actually a learned behavior.
Look for a leash that is secure and fits well on the collar or the harness you’re using. When selecting the first leash to use for your puppy, pick one that is lightweight. A heavy leash may add pressure to the puppy’s neck and make leash training more difficult than it needs to be. Give the puppy enough leash space to roam around independently, but not so much leash that the dog can run into traffic or get into trouble. Retractable leashes are often a good option because you can decide how long the distance should stretch between you and your little buddy.
Introduce the Collar
When you first introduce the collar to your pup, be sure it fits properly. Make putting the collar on fun by using an upbeat, but calm voice and reward your pup with a treat once the collar is fastened. Some puppies will try to push the collar off or scratch at it, after all it is a new sensation! If your pup does this, distract him with a toy, a treat, or scratch him behind the ears. Anytime you see your pup messing with his collar, apply a positive distraction, and soon your puppy won’t even notice he?s wearing a collar.
Introduce the Leash
Once your puppy is used to the collar, it’s time to introduce him to the leash. Select a lightweight leash so there is no unnecessary pulling that may make your puppy leery of the leash. Clip the leash onto the collar and call your puppy to you. Some puppies will have a major reaction to the leash and thrash around wildly trying to get off the leash. This is normal, so simply drop the leash and allow your puppy to pull it behind him as he wriggles, squirms, and hops. Do not let your puppy out of your sight since the leash can become caught up on something and hurt your puppy. Continue to put the leash on for short periods of time, dropping down to one knee and calling your puppy to you and rewarding him when he comes. Once he reaches you, pick up the leash and walk him short distances around the house. Repeat this a couple of times a day until your puppy is accustomed to the leash. Make the process fun by verbally praising your puppy and offering treats.
Never pull or tug harshly on the leash, fight your puppy on the leash, or yell at your puppy, as those negative behaviors will only confuse the puppy and set your training back. Be patient with your pup and keep a consistent routine of attaching the leash and letting your pup get used to it slowly and at his own pace.
Learn to Walk on the Leash
By now, your puppy is used to walking short distances inside on a leash and it’s time to take the fun outside. The outside world offers lots of fun and distraction. All the sights, smells, and sounds will be new and a bit overwhelming. Even though your pup knows how to be led on the leash, he may act differently outside. If he pulls, stop and stand completely still, and do not move until he comes back to you. If he lunges at other dogs, squirrels, or other distractions, distract him with a treat or verbal command. Be patient, start with short walks at first and soon you and your pup can increase the time and distance of your walks.