Getting Puppy used to a Leash

By admin Posted in Puppy, Updated posts /

The sooner a puppy is introduced to a collar and a leash, the easier its acceptance. Many responsible breeders have their puppies leash trained by the time they are adopted. Starting out with a paper or woollen collar to get used to and then a light line for a leash before they are guided with treats to start walking on leash at about eight or nine weeks of age.

However, most puppies leave for their new or forever homes without a collar and a leash and it is up to the new owners to decide when training should start and what form it should take.   Some owners allow their puppies to run free without a collar for a long period and only want to start leash training when they cannot control their puppy.

Occasionally, when discussing puppy training with a new client, I am asked how to introduce the leash to a 12 or 14 week old puppy. Some even arrive at puppy class without a leash or gets it attached as class starts. It is very natural then that the
puppy will resist when they experience a leash attached to the collar for the first time.

My advice is usually to attach a collar and later a leash at feeding time. When the puppy eagerly tries to gobble down its food it does not have time to worry about what is around the neck or attached to it. We are so used to wearing clothes that we forget that we are wearing them. Much the same happens to wearing a collar. In fact my dogs seem to feel naked without their collars because they are eager to have them put back each time it was removed.

For short periods let your puppy drag a light line while walking around the house or while playing. He must get used to the feeling of having something attached to his neck, but he is free to wander or play without being controlled by you.
Occasionally you can briefly step on the line. This helps to create pressure and the pup to get used to tugs on the leash.

When the pup shows signs of getting used to it you can start picking up the leash, hold it for a while and then drop it so that he can carry on again. Repeat this process for a few days. The next time you pick up the leash, call him to you and as gets to you offer a tasty treat. A tiny tug or “pop” on the leash can be introduced as you encourage him to follow another treat a short distance away. Walking backwards as you call and pop on the leash is the way to go.

Leash walking should be exciting for a puppy with great rewards. Puppies are easily distracted so have short sessions in a quiet area and keep turning to your right as the puppy is about to go ahead. The puppy must generally be encouraged to
follow behind you or next to you. A leash to a dog must mean to follow the handler not for the handler to follow the dog!

Get into a habit of always calling your puppy to come to you to have his leash attached. You never want to chase after a puppy to have him leashed. Let him smell and examine the leash before clipping it on. Make it an exciting, happy time which is either playing time or going for short “walkies.”

If your puppy bites the leash, try to discourage it by offering a treat instead or by putting white vinegar, perfume, Vaseline or citronella onto it. A light chain leash can also be an option but I am not keen on it. Never jerk the leash and cause damage to the mouth and teeth in an effort to break the habit.


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