How to Leash Train Your Active Puppy

posted: 01/29/13
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How to leash train your active puppy
Peter Kirillov/Veer

By Jodi Westrick

If there's one thing you need to know about puppies, it's that they're unpredictable. Some may take to leash-walking well, others, not so much. So what are you to do if your puppy falls into the latter category? We've got some tips to help you out!

Choose the Right Leash and Collar for Your Puppy

This might seem obvious, but with so many collar and leash options out there, it may be confusing which to choose. Most professionals suggest getting a light weight collar and leash so the addition doesn't seem too imposing to your puppy. Once he or she gets used to the collar, you can move onto a different kind in the future once you understand your dog's needs better.

Help Your Puppy Become Accustomed to the Collar

Like most kinds of training, you want to make sure your puppy feels safe and secure while you're helping him get used to his collar and walking on a leash. Since simply adding a collar might result in a temper tantrum or cause your pup to become fearful or nervous, try slipping it on at a time when there are other distractions to occupy your puppy's mind. Try putting it on when you're interacting with him at home, or taking him out into the yard with you, or feeding him. Associating the collar and leash with food will give positive reinforcement to your pup, making it less stressful for both of you. If your puppy scratches at the collar, try to get his attention to distract him from the new addition around his neck. If that fails, bringing out a favorite toy should help.

Attach the Leash to the Collar

Seems pretty simple right? You'd be surprised. Often a dog will tend to run around like crazy once he feels some tension on the end of the leash. To avoid this, attach the leash and let him run around while it drags on the ground. Obviously only try this in an area where you can supervise your pup to make sure he doesn't run off and to avoid any entanglements. Ideally, you should try this when there is another dog around so your pup can play while wearing the leash. If this isn't possible, simply play with your dog or go through a fun training routine, rewarding him with a treat. While doing this, occasionally pick up leash and call him to you. The trick is to encourage him while gently picking up the leash, again rewarding him with small treats.

Learning to Walk With the Leash on

If your dog naturally walks at heel, that's great - but don't expect it - and don't try to get him to. Yanking on the leash won't help the situation, so think of getting him to walk as a gradual process. You may need to stand still or kneel down while he figures out what's going on - that way your pup realizes that he won't be able to go anywhere unless it is by your side. Some dogs may decide to sit down and not move. If this happens, call to your pup and offer him a reward when he comes over. Never yank him toward you. Once he comes over of his own will, offer him a treat and continue walking with him by your side.

Final Tips

Leash-training your puppy may be frustrating, but it's important to take your time and remain calm. Your puppy may not get leash-training on his first try, so it's important to take it slow and guage how quick your little one is able to learn. Small steps will soon lead to big gains - and soon enough your puppy will be walking nicely on his leash with you.

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