The first step in leash training a puppy is to make sure you’re using the right equipment. For example, if you have a large dog that pulls hard, it’s not going to help if you use a lightweight retractable leash — you’ll just be fighting with your dog all the time.
Just like with any other discipline, it’s important to start with the right tools and equipment before you begin training your puppy. And this includes leashes!
The most common mistake people make with leashes is that they buy too short or too long. A leash should be long enough for your dog to comfortably walk beside you without getting tangled up in its own legs or those of another dog in the neighborhood. A good rule of thumb is that if your puppy can comfortably lie down on its back while still attached to its leash, then it’s probably too long (and vice versa). If you’re unsure whether your current leash is meeting these criteria, try walking around on different surfaces with your pup until you find one where they don’t get tangled up every few steps.
At What Age Should You Start Leash Training?
The answer to this question depends on the dog’s personality, breed and training experience. As a rule of thumb, you should start leash training when your dog is around 8 weeks old.
Why 8 weeks? This is a good age because by then he’ll have had his first set of puppy shots and he’ll be less likely to chew on the leash. Also, puppies at this age generally have better self-control than older dogs do.
If your dog has been around other dogs and people since birth, it’s fine to start leash training him at an even younger age (around 5 or 6 weeks). However, if your pup comes from a shelter or puppy mill situation, he may be more difficult to train in this regard because he will have spent most of his time isolated from other animals and people.
1. Get your puppy used to the leash
Get your puppy used to the leash when leash training a dog.
Your puppy is going to be excited and interested in everything around him. He’ll want to investigate and explore the new world he’s been thrust into. He might try to take off after something that catches his interest, but you need to keep him close by so that you can control his movements and give him some guidance. The leash will allow you to do this while still keeping him safely attached to you.
When leash training a dog, it’s important that your puppy gets used to wearing his collar and harness from an early age. This will prevent any difficulties later on when he’s older and more set in his ways. You should also start leash training as soon as possible, preferably at about 12 weeks old (the ideal time for starting obedience classes).
2. “Follow Me” Rule
This rule means that your dog should always be on the same side as you when walking on a leash.
If your dog isn’t following this rule, then he’s going to get tangled up in the leash and he’ll feel frustrated and stressed out by it.
This is why it’s so important for you to make sure that your dog follows this rule when you’re walking with him on a leash. The best way to do this is by teaching him how to walk beside you on a loose leash before you start walking him on a leash.
3. Mix It Up
It’s time to put everything together once your dog gets used to wearing a collar and leash and does a good job of following you and staying by your side.
Put your puppy’s leash and collar on first, then practice walking about the home without distractions. On the leash, gently guide your dog to follow and stay near you.
Stop moving if he starts yanking on the leash. The reason for this is that going to the location they wish to go is a reward. Stop and stand motionless when your dog pulls toward something he wants until he stops tugging and returns to your side. Then you can proceed once again. When your dog pulls, he will eventually realize that all the fun is over.
When your dog has mastered walking with you indoors, take him outside to practice. Finally, you and your companion can take to the sidewalk, where you will likely encounter numerous diversions.
It takes a lot of patience to teach leash training, but it’s well worth it! You may both have interesting and thrilling hikes together if you put in the effort now.
Repetition and positive rewards are the lifeblood of leash training as you transition to outside walks. When you’re outside, you might wish to incorporate vocal cues into your training. While “come” may not be the best verbal signal for walking because it has other uses, “Let’s go!” or “This way!” might be more helpful to train your dog to walk with you.
How Long Does It Take to Leash Train a Dog?
It depends on how much time you have, how much patience you have, how smart your dog is, and what degree of difficulty you want to put into it.
The easiest way to leash train your dog is to start when he’s young. If you are adopting an adult dog or bringing home a puppy at 6 months or older, this will take more time because the puppy needs to learn basic obedience commands first before he learns how to walk on a leash.
If you’ve already trained your dog in basic obedience commands like “sit,” “stay” and “come,” then it’s just a matter of practicing walking on a leash until it becomes natural for both of you. You can also try using treats and clickers when out walking so that he knows that going near his leash means he’ll get something good!
Common Issues When Leash Training a Dog
Almost every dog initially pulls on its leash. Continue your initial training method of stopping the walk as soon as your puppy starts to pull to tackle this typical problem. Continue walking when he stops pulling. To further prevent pulling, consider using a front harness or a head halter.
Another common problem with puppies learning to walk on a leash is this. If a squirrel rushes by, for example, your puppy is likely to chase it down.
With a treat, try to divert his attention. You’ll be able to predict what makes your puppy lunge over time and learn to intervene sooner.
While there’s nothing wrong with a little barking, especially when your dog is protecting you, barking at other dogs on walks can be difficult. Excessive barking is frequently caused by a dog’s lack of mental or physical stimulation (there are several other reasons, too).
In addition to walking, be sure to include plenty of activities in your puppy’s day.
Treat puzzles are a fun way to keep his mind occupied.
Teach him to “sit,” “stay,” and “come” to help him get tired.
Physical games like fetch or tug will help expend some of your puppy’s energy, allowing him to be more relaxed on your walks.
Helps Them Develop Analytical and Social Skills
Dogs learn to think things through while they are on leashes, which can make them more intelligent than they would be if they were not forced to problem solve while they were being walked.
Leash training also helps prevent accidents in the house. Dogs are less likely to urinate or defecate inside when they know they will be taken outside regularly by their owners. Being trained not to relieve themselves inside helps keep your house clean and smelling fresh, which is good for everyone involved!
Physical and Mental Health
Walking is a great exercise for both you and your dog. It can help them improve their cardiovascular fitness, which reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke in both humans and dogs. The mental benefits of exercise extend to our pups as well; it’s been shown to reduce stress levels in dogs, which is important because stress has been linked to illness.
Exercise isn’t just good for physical health; it also improves brain function by promoting neuron growth in areas related to learning, memory, and problem-solving!
Partnership and Trust
The leash helps create a partnership between you and your dog. When you’re walking, your attention is focused on the leash, not on the environment around you. This allows you to talk to one another and bond in a way that’s impossible when out of sight of each other.
Leash-trained dogs are much easier to take places with you than untrained dogs. You can take them shopping or to restaurants without worrying about them running away or causing problems for other patrons.
A trained dog doesn’t sit and wait for permission before coming inside after being outside all day. They know that this is not allowed!
In addition, a leash-trained dog doesn’t jump up on people when greeting them, which makes them more desirable as house guests!
Let’s take a look at how Cesar Millan leash training his puppies! Learn from the expert: