Leash training is an essential aspect of preparing your puppy for a long and happy life. Starting early helps your dog succeed in becoming more active and friendly, but getting the hang of wearing a leash can take some effort. Here's how to ease your dog into this essential tool for dog ownership, from first hooking it up to the dog collar to hitting the open road.
Steps to Leash Train a Puppy
1. Introduce the Leash
The ultimate goal of leash training is to get your dog excited about seeing the leash in your hand. To start that training, you need to familiarize your puppy with their lead. In your house, hook the lead up to their dog collar and allow your puppy to drag it around as you play with them and give them treats.
If the leash proves to be annoying to your puppy, take it off and try again another day. Persistence and patience are vital to getting familiar with the leash, but you can continue successfully training them once they seem comfortable with it.
2. Play the Follow Game
For this step in training, make sure to find a spot free of distractions, like toys or new smells. Make it clear to your puppy that you have a handful of treats before you begin. When they notice the treats, move a few steps away. If they follow, reward them. Then, repeat the process, moving in various directions and inviting your puppy to follow you with verbal cues like, "Let's go!" or, "Come here!" Keep this part fun, and stop if your dog begins to get flustered or tired.
3. Practice Indoors
Bring the previous two activities together in a controlled setting by practicing on the leash indoors. Guide your puppy to different parts of your home, aiming to have them following beside you at all times. If your puppy pulls at the leash, stop moving. Repeat until your dog gets familiar with the cues.
4. Bring It Together on a Walk Outside
Now that your puppy is familiar with walk etiquette, you're ready to hit the road! Continue to practice step three's training while on outdoor walks, guiding them away from distractions with verbal and physical cues. If they get a little too distracted, use the stopping method to rein them in, and bring treats as rewards for good behavior. For dogs with a wayward streak, consider other types of dog collars, such as harnesses, to allow your leash to guide them more effectively until they settle into walks better.
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