Puppy Leash Training Tips

is an important part of your dog's obedience training. Learning how to walk properly on leash makes it safer for your pet and more enjoyable for both of you (ever seen someone fighting to keep their leashed dog under control, while it drags them relentlessly down the street? Doesn't look like much fun...). Remember that cute little balls of fluff are still very young and their attention span can be short, so patience is a must when it comes to leash training your puppy. Positive reinforcement is important - reward your puppy for every little thing he does right during your sessions.

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Of course, before you can get the leash onto your little puppy, you'll need to get a collar on him! Some puppies won't seem to mind the collar at all, while others will fight it. Try to distract your pup with food or toys so that he's not thinking about the collar. Give him time to get used to it - wearing something around his neck is bound to feel weird at first. Take off the collar once in a while, but only when he's not fighting it (otherwise you are rewarding him for fighting the collar; he'll think that scratching / biting / pawing at the collar will result in the collar being removed).

Once your puppy is accustomed to the collar, you can begin attaching the leash. Again, some puppies don't appear to notice the leash much, while others will initially fight it. Here are a few tips on helping your pup accept the leash:

  • Use a long leash initially. It will give you the freedom to drop the leash and not have to panic / chase your pup if he starts to run (you can just step on it if need be). Switch to a normal length leash once you begin the real training.

  • If possible, find a nice safe space where you can introduce him to the leash. A fenced area is preferable, but at least somewhere that there isn't a risk of your puppy running into traffic.

  • To get started, attach the leash but don't hold it. Let your puppy sniff at it and drag it around.

  • Don't engage in a game of 'tug' with your puppy. Some puppies will try to grab the leash and play tug-of-war with you. Simply drop the leash.

    If he likes to tug on something bring along an appropriate toy - allow him to romp with his toy instead of grabbing the leash.

    If your pup likes to carry the leash you might decide it's okay so long as he doesn't chew it... or instead, substitute something else like a stick or a toy that he can carry with him on walks.

  • Eventually you'll need to pick up the leash. Keep it slack (unless, of course, you need to pull your dog away from a dangerous situation). Bounce a couple of short feet away and use a high, happy voice to encourage your pup to come towards you. You can use a squeaky toy or treats too if it helps. Make it fun for your puppy to come to you. Keep repeating this, making it into a game.

  • Try to keep the leash slack unless need be. People instinctively tighten their grip on the leash if a puppy pulls, but this tends to tighten the leash and makes the puppy fight it more. So keep it loose.

  • Follow your pup around sometimes, and at other times, make it fun for him to follow you. Don't try to pull him in the direction you want him to go. Encourage your pup with body language, rewards, praise, and the tone of your voice.

  • If your puppy tries to pull you around, simply stop in your tracks. Don't move, don't do anything, just stand there. Your pup will learn that pulling gets him nowhere. Once he senses that he can't pull you, immediately bounce away and entice your pup to follow you again. Make it fun!

Above all, be patience and consistent. Your young dog will learn that it's fun to go out with you, and that the leash isn't anything to worry about. Make leash training a positive and fun experience for your puppy and he'll be eagerly awaiting your next outing!