Taking your puppy out for a walk is in itself a therapy. Not only is it beneficial for you and your puppy, it is a necessity. Puppies need to exercise and go on daily walks for healthy growth. However, walking on a leash doesn’t come naturally to a puppy.
This is where puppy leash training comes into play. Teaching your puppy to walk on a leash with you in the proper way is one of the most important things to do as a pet parent. Why? Because it is going to be useful for the puppy’s entire lifetime.
Due to such importance, it’s crucial to get it right at a young age. So, let’s start with the basics.
Equipment required for leash training a puppy
Before starting the leash training of your puppy right away, first, make sure you have all the pieces of equipment you require. Here’s everything you’re going to need:
- A comfortable collar/harness
- A standard leash (6-foot)
- A bag of treats
- A clicker
- Walking shoes (for you)
Tip: Ensure that you’re including healthy treats during training so that your puppy does not gain extra weight from all the training treats. Refer to the puppy feeding guide for more information on this.
The right time to put a leash and collar on my puppy
There is no exact right time to put a leash and collar on your puppy. Puppies can start leash training right from 8 weeks of age. You can do it on the first day of getting your puppy home after it has adjusted to the new environment a little bit.
Starting the leash training on the first day would be a great start. Walks are great for the mental stimulation of puppies.
Yet, some puppies may be too scared or anxious on the first day. So be mindful of not forcing too much on your puppy the first day. Observe if your puppy is confident or anxious and decide accordingly.
When should we start to train puppies?
Training your puppy should begin from the first day it arrives home. Even if it’s a slow start. Typically, a puppy is at least 8 weeks old when brought home and can respond well to training. Basic training commands like sit, stay, and come can start right from the first hour.
Young age is the best time to start training as puppies grasp commands more quickly than adult dogs. Starting early ensures that your puppy grows into a confident adult and keeps away from harm.
What are the best ways to leash-train puppies? 6 Steps
Here are the best ways to start off your journey of puppy leash training:
1. Start Slow
Puppies have short attention spans, so keep training sessions brief, around 5-10 minutes at first. Gradually increase the duration as your puppy becomes more comfortable.
Begin by putting on the leash and collar for just a minute or two, rewarding your puppy with a treat for wearing them calmly. End each session on a positive note with a treat and praise. This helps your puppy associate training with fun.
2. Introduce Your Puppy to the Leash and Collar
Allow your puppy to investigate the leash and collar indoors. This reduces any fear or resistance when you use them during walks.
Lay the leash on the floor and let your puppy approach it at their own pace. When they sniff or touch it, offer a treat and praise. Use treats to create a positive association. Whenever your puppy touches or shows interest in the leash or collar, reward them.
3. Practice with a Cue/Click
Use a cue word like "walk" or a clicker to signal the beginning of a walk. This helps your puppy understand what's expected of them.
Say "walk" and then proceed to put on the leash. Over time, your puppy will associate "walk" with going for a walk. Be consistent with your cue. Say "walk" every time before putting on the leash.
4. Start Indoors at First
Begin training indoors in a quiet, familiar environment where your puppy feels comfortable. Directly taking them outside with the leash may cause anxiety and stress.
Take a few laps around your living room or a hallway while gently guiding your puppy with the leash. Walk around your home or a designated indoor area to get your puppy used to the sensation of being on a leash.
5. Go Outside
Once your puppy is comfortable indoors, venture outside for short walks. Choose a quiet, safe location to minimize distractions.
Start with a 5-minute walk around your quiet neighborhood, and reward your puppy for walking beside you without pulling. Keep the initial outdoor walks short and pleasant, gradually increasing the distance as your puppy gains confidence.
6. Experience Different Environments
Expose your puppy to various environments to build their confidence and adaptability.
Walk your puppy in a park, on a sidewalk, and on a gravel path to help them become comfortable with different terrains. Gradually introduce new elements like different surfaces (grass, pavement) and varying levels of noise.
Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are the keys to successful leash training. Celebrate your puppy's progress, and always make walks an enjoyable experience for them.
How to handle your puppy on a leash?
Your puppy may seem to walk fine on the leash after a few days of practice. Yet, there may be times of uncertainty when your puppy might pull on the leash or lunge or bark. The outside environment comes with a lot of distractions and puppies are easy victims.
Here are 8 such situations that could arise with attached solutions:
1. Pulling on the Leash
Your puppy constantly pulls on the leash, making walks uncomfortable and unenjoyable.
Solution: Teach your puppy to walk on a loose leash by stopping when they pull and resuming when the leash is slack. Reward them for walking nicely beside you.
2. Lunging at People or Other Dogs
Your puppy gets excited and lunges toward people or other dogs during walks.
Solution: Practice "heel" and "leave it" commands to redirect their attention. Reward them for staying calm and by your side.
3. Barking Excessively
Your puppy barks at people, dogs, or noises, causing a disturbance during walks.
Solution: Work on "quiet" and "focus" commands. When your puppy starts barking, ask for quiet and reward when they comply. Encourage them to focus on you instead of distractions.
4. Fear or Anxiety
Your puppy seems scared or anxious while on the leash, possibly due to unfamiliar sounds or environments.
Solution: Gradually expose your puppy to new environments and sounds. Use treats and soothing words to reassure them. Keep walks short and positive until they become more comfortable.
5. Chewing the Leash
Your puppy bites or chews on the leash during walks.
Solution: Distract them with a toy or treat, and reward them for dropping the leash. Consider using a bitter apple spray on the leash to deter chewing.
6. Getting Tangled
Your puppy often gets tangled in the leash or wraps it around your legs.
Solution: Use a shorter leash or practice walking in open spaces. Teach your puppy to walk beside you instead of circling around.
7. Stopping or refusing to walk
Your puppy suddenly stops and refuses to move during walks.
Solution: Be patient and avoid pulling or dragging them. Use treats or a favorite toy to entice them to continue walking. Investigate if something in the environment is causing fear or discomfort.
8. Getting overexcited
Your puppy becomes overly excited before or during walks, making it challenging to control them.
Solution: Establish a calm pre-walk routine and practice impulse control exercises. Gradually build their excitement threshold by exposing them to different situations.
Training is always a slow and steady process and continues for life. Especially when you are leash training with a young puppy, patience, and persistence is the key. If not done consistently and regularly, your puppy might get confused.
Leash training your puppy is like a safety net during walks, keeping them out of harm's way and giving you better control. It's their daily exercise routine, a chance to meet new furry friends, and quality bonding time with you. It also teaches them good manners and makes walks more pleasant for everyone.
Plus, it's like a passport to adventure, allowing them to explore the world safely. It equips your puppy with a valuable skill they'll use for enjoyable walks throughout their life.
If you would like to read more such blogs, download the sploot app here.