Does this sound familiar? You wake up, eat a hearty breakfast and you plan on going for an early morning walk before work. But wait, this is a perfect opportunity for you to take your puppy on their first walk around the neighborhood and get them to observe and familiarize themselves with their environment beyond your house.
You grab their leash and after struggling for about 5-10 minutes to get it around your puppy’s neck you realize your puppy does not really understand how this leash thing is supposed to work. The leash is finally on and you figure that it took a lot of effort to get the leash on so you might as well just go.
You decide to go for a walk anyway in anticipation that they’ll get used to it when you guys leave the house. After about 10 steps out of your door, you realize it looks like your puppy is walking you as opposed to you walking your puppy. Your puppy is pulling on the leash or biting it and you just can’t seem to get them to stop.
You end up just taking the leash off and walking with the pup in your arms. You decide to try over again the next but to no prevail. Nothing changed. Is this sounding a bit familiar?
Leash training a puppy can be a very tiring experience especially if you have an extremely active pup or the process is not overseen by an expert. There are some dos and don’ts you should be considering before you even think about placing a collar or harness around your puppy’s neck.
With this post, I will present you with the ultimate guide to leash training a puppy in 5 simple steps in 2020. At the end of this process, you will become the Cesar Millan of leash training. (Hopefully)
For best results, I recommend a puppy that is at least 4 months old before beginning leash training.
What You Will Need
- An appropriately sized dog harness
- A Leash
- Dog Treats
- A Distraction Free Environment
The Reason Your Puppy Fusses
If this is your puppy’s very first time being introduced to using a leash or being walked, then you will find that they might be a bit apprehensive of being pulled by a rope or even having a device wrapped around their necks or bodies.
Your puppy is completely confused over what’s going on and they might appear to be a bit scared or nervous. Some may even notice that their puppy will refuse to walk if being pulled. This is completely normal. It’s your puppy’s first time being exposed to the practice of leash walking so you must learn that patience is a virtue and becoming frustrated with your puppy will only set you back further.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
The 5 Step Process
Step 1: The Introduction
You need to begin this process with the leash, harness, and some essential treats nearby. Though the treats are 100% your choice I recommend using Lamb Rice Jerky Treats (link to Amazon). These are guaranteed to become your puppy’s favorite treats, and this will become your mind control device to get your puppy to obey and follow your instructions.
Simply show the harness and leash to your dog and allow them to interact with it. Don’t worry if they begin chewing or biting on it this will get them to be even more comfortable with the items. Be sure to monitor your puppy just so that they do not destroy the leash before you can even begin the leash training process.
If your puppy wants nothing to do with the leash and harness then you can use the puppy treats (A.K.A your mind control device) to coerce your puppy to interact with the objects.
After you think that your puppy is beginning to become a lot more comfortable then it is appropriate to move onto step two.
Step 2: Placement
For most new dog owners this will be the trickiest step to teaching a puppy to walk on a leash. During this stage do not try to fight with your puppy or be rough with them in trying to get them into the harness.
Your aggression will only scare your pup or make them nervous and consequently reverse the process being made from step one. If you have a bit of a rambunctious pup that is way too active and just won’t sit still for you to get the harness around them then you can try to tire them out beforehand.
Play fetch or simply run around so that they can become a little more fatigued. Playing with them prior to leash training will make the process easier for more uppity dogs. A cool alternative for tiring your dog out is by using Hemp Dog Chews and Calming Treats (link to Amazon). These treats will help to balance your puppy’s physical energy.
A smart choice for both hyperactive dogs and dogs that need more pep, hemp oil chews (link to Amazon) can reduce fidgeting or restlessness (running and jumping) or restore more healthy, active energy in older pets. Once your puppy is more comfortable then consider sliding them into the harness one leg at a time.
Step 3: Getting Them Comfortable
Once both the leash and harness are on your puppy, congratulations. The hardest part is behind you. This step will involve more work from your puppy than you. At this step, you simply sit back while you watch your puppy run back and forth while being attached to the leash.
Let them watch as the leash drags across the floor and follow them around while they pull it everywhere. This is all a part of getting them to become more accustomed to having a leash on them.
Step 4: Slow Walking
Baby steps, baby steps. Keep your leash short but also a bit slack so that your puppy is not feeling controlled or restricted. Begin by walking in circles as your dog follows you around. Remember those treats? Reward your puppy with a treat as they follow you around and use it to keep your puppy’s attention.
Use the treats sparingly so that your dog knows that they are receiving the treats due to an action that was expected of them and that they are not just following you around for free treats. Puppies are known for having a very short attention span, so it is your job to keep them focused.
Being in a distraction-free zone is recommended and will save you a lot of time, energy, and puppy treats.
Step 5: Repetition
Repeating this process daily will allow you to have a fully leash-trained puppy within a matter of weeks. Your dog will eventually become familiar with the leash and harness and it will not even be a thing of concern. The second you reach for the leash your dog will become excited and eventually begging to be walked.
Training your dog to start walking while using a leash can take a few weeks and will require a bit of patience and consistency on your part. Walking with your puppy, for most dog owners will usually be some of the only time you will get to spend with your puppy. Your dog will greatly value this time spent together.
Quick Hints & Tips
At What Age to Start Leash Training a Puppy? It is recommended that you wait until your puppy is at least 4 months old until you begin the leash training process. At this age, your puppy’s brain is the most moldable and is like a sponge. They pick up on learning new things extremely quickly at this age and it is recommended that most training should begin during this time.
Is your puppy pulling on the leash? I have solved this problem by simply halting my moving. Show your dog who’s in charge. If your dog is pulling on the leash, then STOP WALKING. Do not allow your dog to pull you behind them. You are in charge here.
You should stand completely still until the dog stops pulling completely then after they stop, continue walking. Keep doing this until your dog gets the picture then eventually, they will learn that you are in charge and that they don’t move until you start moving.
Puppy won’t walk on a leash? If you’re experiencing this problem this can come down to several reasons your puppy won’t walk. They can be either scared, nervous, confused, etc. You should give your puppy some time to forget that the harness is around their neck. Once they become comfortable then eventually they will start to walk on their own.
Is a collar or harness better for a puppy?
You should begin leash training your puppy to walk using a harness. After your puppy is 1 year old then you can implement training with a collar. Though some owners will find that if they have a dog that will pull on the leash then the dog will develop a very harsh cough that can damage the dog’s throat and even lead to many serious problems down the road.
Interested to learn more about tips and tricks of taking care of your new puppy? Click Here.