It’s important to start training your dog early to develop good habits. One of the first things you will need to teach them is how to walk on a leash. This can be a difficult task for some puppies, but with patience and consistency, it can be accomplished. The following seven tips can help you teach your puppy to walk on a leash:
1. Work with a Dog Trainer
Find a professional dog trainer to help you in training your pup. A dog trainer can give you specific tips and advice on how to train your puppy and help you troubleshoot any problems that may arise. The investment will be worth it in the long run!
When working with a trainer or reading training materials, make sure you are using positive reinforcement techniques. Positive reinforcement means rewarding your puppy for good behavior instead of punishing them for bad behavior. These are proven to be the most effective way to train dogs of all ages.
2. Stay Consistent
Remain consistent with your commands and the way you train your puppy. If more than one person is involved in the training process, ensure everyone uses the same commands and follows the same rules. This will avoid confusing your puppy and make their learning process much smoother.
You should also be consistent with walking times, routes, and anything related to the activity. Dogs thrive on routine, so the more predictable you can make their walks, the better. If you need to take a break from walking your puppy for any reason, resume training as soon as possible, so they don’t forget what they’ve learned.
3. Teach a Cue
A cue is a word or signal you give your puppy to indicate what you want them to do. For example, the cue “sit” should make your puppy sit down. It’s essential to choose a short and easy cue for your puppy to remember. Once you have chosen a cue, use it consistently whenever you ask your puppy to perform the behavior. When first teaching a cue, it’s often helpful to use a treat as a reward. Once your puppy has learned the cue, you can begin phasing out the treats and instead rewarding them with praise or petting.
4. Gradually Increase Demands
Start by teaching your puppy to walk calmly by your side for a short distance. Once they have mastered this, you can gradually increase the demands by asking them to walk for long periods or in different environments. If your puppy becomes overwhelmed or frustrated at any point, go back to an easier task that they can succeed at so they don’t get discouraged. Keep training sessions short and sweet, especially in the beginning. Puppies have short attention spans and will quickly become bored or frustrated if asked to do too much at once. Once your puppy can walk calmly on a leash for long periods, you can start working on more complicated tasks such as heelwork or loose leash walking.
5. Develop Positive Association
The puppy needs to be comfortable with the leash and collar before you start training. Put the collar on your puppy while they are eating their meals or playing with a toy. This will help them associate the collar with positive things and make them more likely to tolerate it.
6. Practice Inside and Outside
Practice walking your puppy on a leash in the house and backyard before taking them out on walks. This will get them used to the feeling of wearing a collar and being on a leash, as well as help them learn to follow your commands even when there are distractions around.
Once you feel confident that your puppy is ready to tackle the great outdoors, start by taking them on short walks around the block. Remember to go at your puppy’s pace and take plenty of breaks, so they don’t get too tired or overwhelmed. If all goes well, you can gradually increase the length and difficulty of your walks.
7. Be Patient
Training your puppy to walk on a leash takes time and patience. Don’t get discouraged if your puppy isn’t progressing as quickly as you would like. Every dog learns at their own pace. Be sure to praise your puppy for its successes, no matter how small, and remain patient through the setbacks. Your puppy will be a pro at leash walking with time and effort.