Puppy Chester is an 8 week old bulldog/mastiff mix and the newest furry addition to one of my dog walking client’s family. Talk about puppy breath! HA, I love it. If you haven’t experienced puppy breath yet, go hang out with a puppy or two..or three or four 😉
Whenever I get to care for a puppy in my capacity as a dog walker or pet sitter, I’m reminded of Missy’s & Buzz’s early days with us. Back in the day we lived on the 3rd floor of an apartment complex in the D.C. suburbs, and the pups moved in at 8 weeks of age, so getting them used to a collar and leash from day one was super high on my priority list. After all, there was no back yard they could romp around in.
Besides being the law in most urban places, the young age of a puppy is simply the easiest time to getting him used to the feeling of a collar and a leash in order to set him up for success in the leash walking department.
The video below shows puppy Chester on a leashed potty break with me. He’s still too young to go on real walks outside of his property and hasn’t received all of his core vaccines yet, but he’s at the perfect age to start acknowledging short leashed potty breaks as part of his daily life.
Keep It Positive
Leash training, just like any training for that matter, should always be fun to ensure that your puppy associates positive things with whatever he’s being taught.
You won’t need to invest in an expensive collar right away because he’ll outgrow it fairly quickly – unless you want to, of course. Just be prepared to be collar shopping for a while until he’s fully grown into his body, which takes longer for larger breeds than for smaller ones.
I found the following tip from Cesar Millan’s book How To Raise The Perfect Dog – Through Puppyhood And Beyond very helpful. I read that book forwards & backwards while preparing for the pups’ arrival and found MANY nuggets of wisdom in it. I highly recommend it if you’ve never owned a pup before (I hadn’t!):
I recommend letting a puppy drag around a very short leash for quick intervals while she’s playing – supervised at all times of course – just so she can get accustomed to the unnatural feeling of having something around her neck, while still experiencing the fun and freedom of play. How To Raise The Perfect Dog – Through Puppyhood And Beyond, Cesar Millan, Page 166.
Introduce The Collar And Leash Right Away
Since puppies are most impressionable within their first 5 months of age, the key is to start as early as possible to get your puppy used to the feeling of having a collar and a leash on his body.
He’s born naked, after all, and will need to be shown that it’s the most normal thing in the world to have something attached to him.
Side note: Reputable breeders will start their puppies off on the right paw by identifying them with different color paper bands around their necks, so they’ll be used to having something around their necks from day one.
Great Dane Puppies Wearing Different Color Collars
Don’t Make A Big Deal Out Of It
I strongly suggest leash training right away even if you have a yard that your puppy can explore without being leashed. Just put a lightweight leash on him and let him walk around with it for a few minutes. You don’t really have to make a big deal out of it or get overly excited. If you stay calm, your puppy will stay calm in return.
You’ll reap the benefits within a few months when your puppy won’t make a big deal out of having a leash dangling from his neck and go stir crazy whenever you grab the leash to take him on a walk.
Puppies Missy & Buzz On A Leashed Snow Walk
While puppies are a lot of work and require big chunks of your time, energy, and patience, the one huge PRO of raising a puppy is that you can take advantage of training him in those first 5 months of his life when he’s most impressionable.
Don’t put off leash training until he’s several months old if you get him at around 8-10 weeks of age. Now is the perfect time to getting him used to having a collar and a leash around his neck.
I followed Cesar Millan’s advice and let my puppies Missy & Buzz walk around the living room with their leashes clipped to their little collars a few times every day while playing with a toy and/or chewing on a bully stick (best puppy teething comfort EVER! Just FYI).
The beauty of it all was that they got used to their leashes and collars in absolutely no time at all. Granted, I also took them outside a lot during their first few weeks (their bladders were so tiny that they had to relieve themselves after every nap, play session, and meal), so that must have accelerated the process of getting used to the new sensation of being leashed.
Have you raised a young puppy? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!