Leash training your puppy or adult dog is an important skill for them to learn, and with a little practice they’ll get it in no time!
Puppies and adult dogs that haven’t been exposed to a leash, or a collar for that matter, may be very nervous when you hook a leash to them. Some may bite at it, spin in circles or simply freeze and refuse to move. It can be a scary experience, and it’s your job to help your dog see that the leash and collar aren’t so bad. Try these tips below to get your dog of any age walking on the leash like a pro!
Leash Training Steps:
1. If your dog is fearful of the leash, put it on them while they are in a place where they feel most comfortable. Next, simply let the leash lie on the ground next to them and let them walk around with it dragging if they’d like. Be sure to praise them and give them a few treats; you want the leash to become a pleasant experience. You can also put the leash on them when you feed them their meals; this will help them associate the leash with good things, food!
2. After they seem pretty comfortable having the leash dragging with them when they walk, pick up the leash and walk with them, but still in a comfortable environment. Don’t try to pull them in any particular direction; let them lead. This will help them get used to you walking along with them while holding the leash. Be sure to praise and use treats!
3. Next, while still in a place that is comfortable for your dog, you can try leading your dog with the leash. Encourage them, happily say “Let’s Go!,” use treats or their favorite toy. Be sure to praise when they move in the direction you want them to, even if it’s just a step or two!
4. Keep practicing and when they have a good handle on walking on the leash where they’re most comfortable, try going outside. Walk down the street or around the block, but don’t overdo it. Remember praise and treats!
5. As you see your dog get more comfortable, you can increase the distances and time spent on the leash. Practice stopping and have them “Sit” when you stop. If they start pulling hard in one direction, turn around and go the opposite direction. Pretty soon your dog will be walking great on the leash!
Keep in Mind:
Keep in mind that all of these steps could go by extremely quickly or a little more slowly. Each dog will be different; some will get the hang of it right away, but others might need more time. Don’t get frustrated with your dog. They’ll know it if you do and it might make them not want to walk with you on the leash. So, always stay calm, positive and encourage your dog!
What Type of Leash and Collar Should You Use?
There are a lot of different types of leashes and collars out there. All of us at HCPAP recommend a regular buckle collar or harness and a 6 foot leash, either a no-slip or with a snap hook to connect to your dog's collar. A 6 foot leash will give your dog enough room to move, but you’re still able to keep them close. We highly discourage the use of retractable leashes; these leashes are dangerous to you, your dog and everyone else around you.*
You also want to make sure that the collar you have on your dog fits properly; you don’t want it too tight but you don’t want it too loose either. You should have the collar tight enough that they can’t slip out of it, but you can still get two fingers under it easily. If the collar is too loose, your dog could slip out of it in the blink of an eye and that’s a disaster waiting to happen!
Remember to have an ID tag on your dog at all times!
*See our article on the “Dangers of Retractable Leashes”