No matter how much most fully-grown dogs like going for walks—I mean, normally a dog will start jumping for the joy at the very mention of the word walkies—it’s not as easy as you think to get him leash walking in the beginning. More often than not, there will be many bumps along the way as your pup gets used to the concept of being on a leash—and he point-blank refuses to move in the middle of the sidewalk will most definitely be one of them! So, how does a pup that is insecure and fighting against the leash turn into a fully-grown dog that loves it? Here are some of our top tips for introducing a puppy to walk on a leash.
Getting used to the collar and the leash
Leash training a puppy can start before he even sees a leash. For me, I plopped my pup’s collar on him from day one (can a collar be plopped on young puppies?). Seeing as he was three months old already when I got him, I did not want him to go any longer without being used to having a collar on. It’s important to keep your pup’s collar on at all times, especially if there’s even the possibility that they could get loose. When it comes to the leash, be as patient with your pup as possible, and try to envision that end result (to help keep your sanity). Start getting your pup used to his leash indoors, before you even bother trying to make it work outdoors. If your pup doesn’t like the leash, you do not want him to associate going outside with something he doesn’t like, especially for potty training reasons.It is important to remember that, even with this first step, you need to be patient. Anything new is scary for a puppy, and he is likely still getting used to being outdoors, let alone walking with a leash attached to them!
When it comes to getting your pup used to the idea of “going for a walk,” it is important to keep a calm attitude about it right from the beginning. You don’t want to introduce the idea from a young age that going on a walk means being hyper, and you don’t want to stress your pup out by acting like something big is about to happen. Keep going for a walk as routine as you possibly can, to help your pup understand that you can have a good time, but also that they need to remain calm before, during, and after walks. If he does become hyper, act scared, or start barking at the idea of going for a walk, make him wait until he calms down before proceeding with the walk.
Reward good behavior
Who doesn’t like the odd reward? Let’s face it, when training a puppy, you are probably going to need to bribe your pup with quite a few treats to get him going, stop him pulling (dog pulls can be so powerful!), and keep him going. Go for small, natural training treats that your pup could eat quite a few of during the training process and not end up an icky tummy. We recommend single or limited ingredient treats. You can actually purchase a little reusable treat bag that can be conveniently closed with a drawstring and you can keep clipped to your belt for easy treat access. We like Good2Go’s Dog Treat Tote. You can find both of these items in Pup Box’s online shop. If your pup has managed to get his feet on the ground and is walking nicely beside you on the leash, offer constant verbal encouragement, as well as offering the occasional treat as a reward. If your dog seems to be getting the hang of things and is walking nicely and confidently beside you on his leash, let him know that he’s doing fine and give him a treat. Sometimes, having a bribe close to hand in the form of a tasty treat to move them along is one of the only ways it is going to happen!
Combat stubborn behavior
There is no doubt that you’ll come across some seriously stubborn behavior on your walk with your new pup. After all, no pup particularly likes being told what to do. However, there are definitely ways to combat stubborn behavior and, by the way, I mean treats. One of the most common stubborn behaviors with lead training a new pup is the “sit and lie down,” as I mentioned above. My pup would just sit and wouldn’t move if a tornado blew through the city! (Ever so slight exaggeration, there I think.) It may seem impossible to lure them out of this behavior and you end up just picking them up, moving a few feet, and trying again. This is a bad pattern of behavior to get into, as your pup will start associate you carrying them with stubborn behavior—and you’ll see it come up even more frequently. The best way you can combat this is by walking a few steps away, calling his name, and offering him a treat. If your pup sees that he will get a treat if he does not engage in this behavior, you are much more likely to have a mobile pup!
Stick with a routine
Try to develop a schedule and routine with your pup, where you take him out for a walk around the same time each day, and make sure you’re taking him out everyday. Obviously, our lives don’t always stay the same on a day-to-day basis, but the more consistent you are, the better. If your pup comes to expect that this will be part of his daily routine, then he is a lot more likely to accept it as such, and truly start to enjoy it—which is kind of the whole point of leash training your puppy!
To leash train a new pup is never easy. Some pups will pick up on new concepts more quickly than others and you can train your puppy easily. If you constantly try to teach your dog and he will think of the leash as a tug toy, leaving you contemplating the services or a professional dog trainer or just giving up…well, don’t! With a combination of persistence and positive reinforcement, as well as using a retractable leash so he doesn’t pull so much, you’ll be taking longer and (hopefully) relaxing strolls with your pup sooner than you think.
Bringing a new family addition into the home is extremely exciting! Becoming a new puppy parent comes with a ton of new joys, challenges and responsibilities. PupBox was created to help new puppy parents like yourself, by providing all of the toys, treats, accessories and training information you need, when you need it. CLICK HERE to learn more about PupBox.
And remember, puppyhood is fast and is gone before you know it. Make sure to savor the time when your pup is young, and take lots of pictures along the way!