Aside from potty training, how to leash train a dog is one of the biggest challenges you’ll encounter during your puppy’s first year. A puppy is full of energy and eager to learn. With the right knowledge and methods, you can effectively train your pup to learn how to calmly walk on a leash in as little as a few months.
How to Leash Train a Dog: For the Beginner
There are a ton of collar and leash options out there and a big debate over which type of equipment is the best to use when leash training. Do you use a basic collar and leash combo, or should you try a harness? Are choke chains dangerous, or are they necessary for larger breeds? To start, try using a small collar and a basic length leash. Do not purchase a retractable leash because these don’t allow you to effectively control your dog during a walk. The goal here is to teach your dog to walk at your side, not encourage him or her to run ahead of you or drag you. A harness is a great device to use if you have a large dog that’s hard to control, but to start, all puppies should learn how to walk on a leash using a basic collar.
Before you take your dog on their first walk, attach the leash to the collar for twenty to thirty minutes a day for three days. This will allow your dog to become accustomed to the weight and feel of the leash.
Expect your dog’s first time out to be nothing short of chaotic. Your puppy will jump around, stop to smell everything and everyone and basically drag you around the neighborhood. Pulling on the leash and choking your dog won’t solve the problem and will most likely cause them to pull harder. Each time your dog begins to drag you, simply stop walking. Your dog may not get the hint immediately and will continue to try and pull you, but eventually, they’ll stand still or sit down. Once your dog is calm, begin walking again and repeat standing still when your dog begins to drag you again, and they definitely will.
If you believe in treat reinforcement, bring along some of their favorite snacks and reward your dog each time they sit down or slow down and walk at your side. Never let your dog walk in front of you, otherwise, they’ll think they’re in charge of where to go. Proper dog walking involves the dog walking at your side with a lax leash.
Never Give up Hope: Final Thoughts on Leash Training
Your dog won’t walk perfectly on their leash the first time. Or the second time. Probably not even the third. Learning how to walk on a leash correctly will take months and during this time, you must be both patient, positive and consistent. As your dog grows you may need to reassess the type of gear they use, switching to a harness if they’re still not able to walk on a leash correctly. A harness will give you more control over your dog, allowing you to easily handle even the most powerful breed and this is important, especially if you live in an area where dogs running around loose is a normal occurrence.