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9 Tips for Leash Training a Puppy

Spotted puppy outdoors on a leash

Although leash training a puppy can be a difficult task, it is essential for enjoying walks with your dog. In the beginning, your puppy may outrightly refuse to wear a collar or show physical restraint. However, once the training is complete, your pup will be happy to accompany you on daily walks. Keep reading to know some important tips and guidelines about leash training a puppy.

Why Does My Puppy Refuse to Walk on Lead?

Several reasons can urge your puppy to refuse from walking on a lead. The puppies who have never been leashed are quite likely to struggle on a leash. Other than that, the smell and feel of a new leash can also be frightening for some dogs. Therefore, it is always a good idea to distract your puppy with treats or toys while putting a collar on. This helps your canine companion to get used to the collar (and the leash).

What Age to Start Leash Training a Puppy?

4 puppies in a dog bed

Leash training should be started early on in a puppy’s life to get the best results. It allows your pup to get accustomed to the leash quickly, and he/she will be happy to walk with it. Generally, you should start leash training a puppy when it’s around 4-6 weeks old. This is the perfect age for initiating any kind of training because young puppies tend to learn and absorb more.

Tips for Leash Training a Puppy

A leash restricts the freedom of movement of your dog and this can be scary for him/her. However, a calm and consistent practice is the best way to make your pup get used to a leash. If your puppy refuses to walk on the lead, the following tips can help you solve this problem.

Choose a Suitable Collar and Leash

2 leather Decorative dog collars

Choosing the proper collar for your puppy is very important. Normally, a flat and light collar with a light leash is the perfect combination to start the training. The collar should have enough space to let two fingers fit in it, comfortably. A collar tighter than that can become uncomfortable for your puppy. Some of the most common types of collars are listed below.

  • Standard flat collar
  • Front-clip harness
  • Back-clip harness
  • Martingale collar
  • Headcollar

NOTE: Harnesses are considered the best by most professional trainers because they have no risk of injuring your puppy’s neck.  

Allow Your Puppy to Get Accustomed to the Collar and Leash

Small white puppy chewing leash

Don’t worry if your dog is nervous to try his/her first collar. This is perfectly normal because no puppy learns to walk on a leash in a day. Your puppy will likely try to chew the collar, especially if the collar is too tight. If the collar is not tight and your puppy still tries to chew it, distract him/her with toys, or treats.

NOTE: NEVER be harsh with your puppy because it will do more harm than good.

Associate the Leash with Playtime

Your primary goal should be to associate positivity with the collar and leash. Your puppy should always associate the leash with fun and happiness. For this purpose, you can schedule leash training sessions when you’re playing with your puppy (in the yard). Over time, your puppy will associate the leash with playtime and will expect lots of fun. Although this type of behavior modification takes time, it’s quite useful in the long run.

Schedule Short Training Sessions at Home

Puppy on a leash outdoors sitting

The best place for leash training your puppy is the one that is familiar and free of distractions. PupBox recommends the dog owners to try short sessions at their homes because your puppy is comfortable there.

Put the collar and leash on your puppy and then show him/her some treats. Once your canine friend knows that you have treats, walk a few steps away and let him/her come to you. Repeat this a few times but not too much, because your puppy may get bored.

Develop a Reward System and Praise Good Behavior

Every time your puppy walks with the leash on, give him/her a treat as a reward. You should also shower your dog with a lot of praise for good behavior. Puppies respond really well to this kind of positive reinforcement and it will encourage quicker learning.

You can create a tiered reward system where every good behavior is rewarded differently. For example, 1 small treat for wearing the collar calmly, a treat and a hug for walking with a leash, and so on.

Teach Commands

Person outdoors with puppy teaching commands

According to Purina, teaching vocal commands to your puppy can be quite helpful for leash training him/her. Actions, such as sit, come, or walk, can make your life very easy in the long run. However, this may take some time and consistency is the key here.

Correct the Bad Behavior Calmly

Never punish and shout at your dog. This does nothing but scare him/her and slow the learning process. Instead, always have a calm and encouraging attitude while training your puppy. Be gentle when putting on a collar and never tug on the leash if your puppy doesn’t want to move.

Use a Short Leash  

Puppy standing in fall leaves attached to leash

It is highly recommended to start with a shorter leash. It reduces the area your dog can walk in and discourages him/her from pulling on the leash. This is because he/she will learn that tugging on the leash will do nothing. A shorter leash keeps your pup close and is also handy if your puppy loves pulling. Remember, the goal is to teach your puppy to walk with you.

Be Patient

Your puppy is always eager to learn new things. All you need to do is to be patient and communicate things effectively. Always make sure that your furry friend is comfortable when doing anything. NEVER speed through the training process and give your puppy ample time to adapt and learn. Likewise, consistent rewarding of good behavior is integral in teaching good manners.

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