Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to Leash Train Your Excited Puppy or Older Dog

Does your puppy sit down, back up or pull to shake loose of the leash?  Or worse yet does your older dog pull you down the street at breakneck speed when you put the leash on its collar?  A few simple training sessions can help you walk your dog safely on a leash.

First, choose the proper leash. This article may help: Choosing the Right Leash For Your Puppy

Putting a leash on your new puppy for the first time

Putting a leash on an excited new puppy usually starts a chewing frenzy including rolling on the ground. Everything just short of a temper tantrum, especially if you hold the leash taut with no slack for the puppy.

A young puppy (under 12 weeks old) will have no idea what this rope around the neck is all about, and will understandably freak out. Leash training a puppy this young is not required as they will usually not venture far by themselves.
It is certainly possible to get a good head start on leash training by simply attaching a leash to the puppy's collar while it roams around the house. <i><b>Supervise your puppy at all times when you are leash training (leashes may get caught on something).</b></i> Correct the puppy if it starts to chew on the leash by:

*Distract the puppy with a toy

*Click your fingertips on the ground in front of the puppy

*Get on the floor with the puppy and keep the leash away from it, the leash should always be behind the puppy.

*If your puppy cannot be distracted from chewing on its new leash, growl when it starts to chew. That's right, I said it, growl at your puppy. Or make any sound deep in your throat and look directly into your puppy's eyes (if you make the right sound, I guarantee your puppy will be looking right into your eyes).

The goal is to get the puppy to the point of not noticing the leash at all.

Preparing for the first leash walk

During the actual process of leashing your dog or puppy, you want to remain calm and in control. Prepare yourself to go outside first (shoes, coat, propeller hat... whatever) without exciting you puppy. Make no eye contact with your puppy and speak in low even tones.

Clip the leash to your dog's collar. If your puppy is young and does not have practice, pick it up and walk outside. If you have a big puppy or older dog, walk calmly out the door <i>in front of the dog (this shows your dog who is in charge of this walk).</i>

If this is your puppy's first walk, you will have to do some more training now.

Follow these steps for a reluctant puppy:

*Standing to the side of your puppy, bend down and take hold of the leash right where it connects to the collar.

*Take some small baby sized steps. Your puppy may drag behind at first, but keep trying. You are in charge. Say, "Let's go", or something in an upbeat even tone (do not get the puppy too excited).

Once your dog is comfortable with the leash and small steps, you are ready for your first walk.

Leash walking your puppy or dog for the first time

Walking your dog on a leash should be an enjoyable and relaxing experience for you and your dog. You should be in complete control of the walking direction and pace.

Start by standing to the side of the dog and grasping your dog's leash right where it meets the collar (bend down if you have a small dog or puppy), and begin taking slow steps forward keeping the dog close at your side. Whether your dog is raring to go or being reluctant, continue to take slow steps forward. As your dog comes up to speed with you (or slows to your pace), begin to slide the hand holding the collar slowly up the leash and pick up the pace slightly. Continue to slide your hand up until you come to your waist. If you have a longer leash, run the leash across the front of your body to your other hand and hold the slack there.

The goal is to have you walking about one pace <i>in front</i> of your dog.

Continue to hold the leash right at your waistline with very little slack, your dog should adjust to your pace and drop back into a relaxed walk <i>right behind you.</i>

Repeat this process until your dog understands that the person holding the leash is in charge of the walking direction and pace. Have all family members and friends practice this way so there is no confusion for the dog.

You will quickly become aware of how fast you need to go to keep your dog in exercise mode and interested in the walk. Do not give in and let your dog lead you, this makes every part of training more difficult. If your puppy knows that you are in charge of everything, it makes them want to please you and follow you.

Photo credit: By Chad Miller (originally posted to Flickr as [1]) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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