Imagine yourself walking down a street on a normal day and you meet a pet owner in distress. They have their precious pup on a leash and rather than walking side by side like a happy family, the dog is frantically tugging and whining for dear life.
It looks funny for everyone else but for the pet owner, it is really embarrassing. Now imagine if this person holding the other end of the leash was actually you.
The last thing you want is a canine that does not cooperative during leash walks. But here is the thing, leash walking is not a natural gift that all canines are born with.
You have to train your dog on how to walk on a leash. If they have never been on a leash before, they won’t understand why they need to be in one now. This is why you should start training your furry friend on leash walking while he is still young.
How to train a puppy to walk on a leash is a step by step process that requires loads of patience. Do not get discouraged if your dog refuses to cooperate from day one. With positive reinforcement, he will eventually come around.
Before we get to the nitty-gritty, let us first look at the advantages of training your puppy to leash walk.
Advantages of training your puppy to walk on a leash
- You introduce your puppy to new sites and smells. This helps in their physical and mental stimulation. The more your puppy goes on walks, the better socialized they are.
- You are teaching him trust and obedience. Get your dog to wear a harness and you can get them to do anything you wish.
- You have total control of your dog. We all have seen dogs that bolt away once the leash comes off from them. A dog that obeys the leash is much easier to control.
- Zero behavioral issues. Your dog will not stop and back at everything that is moving. He also won’t embarrass you with a loud whine and relentless tags on the leash.
- It is a special way of bonding with your dog. Leash training a puppy takes time and patience. The period you spend together learning also establishes a strong bond between the two of you.
- It keeps your puppy healthy. Going out for walks every day helps your puppy stay in shape. Because you are not raising no couch potato.
- Keeps your puppy contented of the world they are in. A puppy that goes out a lot seldom has an interest for the outside world. The opposite of it is an unsocialized Beagle that burrows a tunnel out of your compound. You do not want that!
Without further ado, here are proven tips on how to train a puppy to walk on a leash.
Step 1: Peek a boo! I see you
Puppies have the attention span of a millennial. You can only keep them focused on you if you have something that interests them. Like a tasty chicken nugget or freshly made peanut butter dog biscuit.
At this point, you are just spending quality time with your pooch. Toss him a treat to start the training session. Now move away from him and let him come to you. If he successfully does this, reward him with a treat.
Continue rewarding them until they know that sticking around means continuous rewards from their favorite human.
Step 2: Surprise! It’s a Harness
Now we have your puppy’s attention. It is time to introduce the harness or collar. For puppies, a harness is the best choice because he wears it on his body as opposed to the neck alone. Should he decide to pull at the leash, a harness will not harm him like a collar.
Bring out the harness and place it next to your puppy. Of course, he will stare at it, he does not know what you want to do it. But that does not matter right now, keep him distracted by tossing another treat his way.
When he sees the harness still lying around, he will want to explore it. Let him sniff, scratch, or bite it if he wants. Some pups will equate the harness to another new toy from their beloved human. As he gets accustomed to the harness, we can now move to the next step.
You should be prepared when your puppy decides to fight the collar at first. It is understandable, we all did not like our first day of school either. But we slowly got sold into the idea of school because our folks had a candy bar in their hand whenever they picked us up from school.
Step 3: Sniff, sniff! What does it do?
Don’t jump into it right away. You might spook your pup.
Gently pick the harness up and put it down. When your puppy raises a brow, throw a treat his way. Repeat this process until he sees that action as harmless. Eventually, pick up the harness and hold it in your hand while rewarding your pooch with treats.
Step 4: How do I look?
Now it is time to wear the step-in harness. Lay the harness flat on the ground with the buckle and D-ring stretched out. The harness should form two triangles where the dog’s legs will step in.
Call your puppy to come to you. Reward them with a treat as you get them to step into the harness. Your pup might get startled and give you that ‘Wait a minute’ look. If he looks too spooked stop the training and toss him a treat.
Now try and get him to wear the harness again. This time he should be a bit more receptive. If he agrees, toss a treat his way. Repeat this until your puppy is comfortable with getting into the harness without resisting.
Step 5: I’m Walking Funny?
Let your puppy walk around showing off his new harness. He might get bored of wearing it the first few minutes and biting and pulling at it. If he does, get it off him immediately. Reward him with a treat as he got this far.
Try this step one more time and see how long your puppy holds out. If he does not fight the harness anymore, reward him with a treat. Let him wear the harness for the entire day. It will make him walk funny at first but soon he will get used to having a harness on him.
Step 6: Wait, there is more?
It is time to sneak in the leash. Bring out the leash and place it right next to you. Let him have another treat as he eyes the leash beside you. You have him interested, he is wondering why you keep bringing out new strange toys.
Lay the leash on the flow and let your pup sniff at it. Leave it to him just like you did with the harness. He will bite and toss the leash around which is okay. He is growing accustomed to it and even transferring his scent to it. Dogs tend to trust objects that smell like them or their owners.
Pick the harness up and drop it. Suspicious eye from Bingo? Assure him with another tasty treat. Pick the harness up and this time hold it in your hand. Not spooked yet? Good, now attach the leash to the harness.
Step 7: Let me pick this up really quick
Do not start walking your dog right away. Any sudden tug at the leash might send the poor pup into a yelping frenzy.
Let him continue playing with the leash attached to the harness. He might end up getting himself tangled in a ropy mess. It is allowed, he is having fun and growing to the trust the leash even more.
Now pick up the leash and move away from your pup. Call your puppy and let them come to you whilst still holding the leash. Reward the bold chap with a pick-me-up treat for making it this far.
Step 8: Care to walk with me?
Finally, it is time to walk the talk. Practice walking with your dog around the house. Repeat the process of walking before the puppy and calling them to you. It is better this way rather than let them lead the way.
Walk from one room to another still calling on your pup to follow you. Go up a few flights of stairs and encourage them to come to you. This trains the puppy on how to navigate through obstacles when you start doing outside leash walks.
Step 9: Sit this one out
You should also let your puppy lead sometimes. This prevents you from having to fight back at the leash if your puppy decides to go explore. Also, it is a great time to practice tagging on the leash without spooking your favorite furry friend.
So let the little fellow lead the way around the house through the nook and crannies. If you want him to change direction, tag at the leash gently while you call him. Once he turns to you, let him come over and enjoy the treat you have in hand. This technique will come in handy when you finally go out together.
Step 10: Time to see the world
‘Tis the day of reaping the rewards of your efforts. Your puppy has a harness on, leash attached, and ready to go out exploring. Start with moderate walks first and we will tell you why.
Remember your puppy has not explored the outside world much. The moment you step out the door, the furry fellow is bombarded by millions of stimuli coming from different directions. Begin with brisk walks first.
On day one of exploring, walk around the block as you call your puppy towards. You will also notice he is a bit shy of the outside world (unless he is a beagle). Reward him with treats as you encourage him to follow you.
Your dog will catch different kinds of scents he will want to explore. Allow him to lead as he explores the new sights and smells. If your dog’s scent escapades lead him towards a garbage bin, it is time to restrain him. Gently tag on the leash, call his name and cheer him on as he comes for a treat. You have successfully redirected his attention.
That same technique will work when your dog encounters another dog. Distract him with a treat as you move away from the other dog. Pick him up and carry him to the other side of the street if need be.
Always anticipate various encounters when you are out leash walking your puppy. The more you take your puppy out for walks, the more he grows accustomed to people and other animals.
Which dogs are great for leash-walking?
The breed of a dog can determine how great that dog is in leash-walking. By rule of thumb, the most intelligent of breeds should learn leash walking faster. While this is true, smart canines also tend to be know-it-alls. They can easily become destructive if they feel you are not authoritative enough.
Then there are dog breeds that tow the rope with no qualm. Though they are not as smart, their willingness to please their master makes them the best students for leash walking. Some of these dogs include;
- Beagles (obedient but can be a smartass)
- Labrador retrievers (most loyal)
- Border collie (super intelligent and obedient)
- German shorthair pointer
- Siberian husky (stubborn at times)
- American Staffords terrier (gentle giants)
If you were clueless on how to train a puppy to walk on a leash, you are not alone. A lot of pet lovers are scratching their heads too. Lucky for you, we have simplified the process of training your puppy to walk on a leash in 10 easy steps.
Do you still feel leash training your puppy is a lot of work? No problem, you can always hire a pet sitter to help leash walk your dog.
Away Home & Pet Care is Ogden, UT’s premiere dog walking service. They specialize in walking puppies and are eager to help ease this burden.