Today I’m sharing my input on how to teach your puppy to walk on a leash!
Because here’s the thing – walking on a leash is a crucial skill for your puppy’s safety and your peace of mind.
With the right approach and patience, you can guide your furry friend to become a well-behaved little walker.
So in this blog post, I’ll provide step-by-step instructions and valuable tips to help you teach your puppy to walk on a leash like a pro.
But first, let me introduce myself real quick.
Hi, I’m Barbara, and I was a professional dog walker and pet sitter from 2012-2020.
How To Teach Your Puppy To Walk On A Leash
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One of my dog walking clients, puppy Chester, is an 8 week old Bulldog/Mastiff mix.
He’s the newest furry addition to one of my dog walking client’s family.
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 since he 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.
Also, can we 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!
It’s the sweetest thing, literally.
But either way, whenever I cared for puppies in my capacity as a professional dog walker or pet sitter, I was reminded of Missy’s and Buzz’s early days with me.
They’re my Boxer mix littermates.
Back in the day, we lived on the 3rd floor of an apartment complex in D.C. suburbia, and the pups moved in at 8 weeks of age.
So getting them used to a puppy 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.
And since we lived in Loudoun County, VA, which had solid leash laws in place, I had to take the puppies out on a leash right from the get go.
Plus, there’s just no better time to teach your puppy to walk on a leash than when they’re this young!
Now without further ado, below I’m sharing 7 tips for puppy leash training.
Don’t Make A Big Deal Out Of Puppy Leash Training
First things first, I strongly suggest you start your puppy leash training right away.
Even if you have a yard that your puppy can explore without a collar and a leash.
Just put a lightweight puppy 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 is more likely to stay calm in return.
It won’t take long for your puppy to pick up on everything and get used to wearing collar and a leash.
They’ll understand that it’s part of doggy life and won’t go stir crazy whenever you grab the leash to them on a walk.
Keep Puppy Leash Training Positive
Puppy leash training, just like any dog training for that matter, should always be fun.
That ensures that your puppy associates positive things with whatever he’s being taught.
You won’t need to invest in an expensive puppy collar right away because he’ll outgrow it fairly quickly.
The puppy collars I bought for Missy and Buzz were only about $10 each.
Unless you want to, of course! Just be prepared to be dog collar shopping for a while until your puppy has fully grown into his body.
Just FYI, this process takes longer for larger breeds than it does for smaller ones.
Basic Leash Introduction
Attach a leash to your puppy’s collar or harness and let them drag it around in a secure, supervised area. For example, your living room or backyard.
This helps them get used to the sensation and weight of the leash without feeling restrained.
To put it in Cesar Millan’s words:
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 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.
While Cesar Millan is a much debated dog trainer, I found this particular tip on puppy leash training really helpful.
I came across it when I read his book How To Raise The Perfect Dog – Through Puppyhood And Beyond.
As a matter of fact, I found several puppy training tips in it that resonated with me.
Introduce Your Puppy Collar & Leash Right Away
Since puppies are most impressionable within their first 5 months of age, the key is to start their dog leash training asap.
That way, they’re getting used to the feeling of having a collar and a leash on their body very early on in life.
After all, they’re born naked and will learn that it’s the most normal thing in the world to wear a collar and a leash.
Side note: Reputable breeders will start their puppies off on the right paw by identifying them with different puppy whelping collars.
That said, they’ll be used to having something around their necks from day one.
Loose Leash Walking
Teach your puppy to walk beside you with a loose leash.
Encourage them to stay close using yummy training treats or toys as rewards.
Missy being the little food-motivated puppy that she was, food rewards like dog training treats worked wonders for her.
Addressing Puppy Pulling On Leash and Distractions
If your puppy pulls on the leash or gets distracted, stop walking and redirect their attention back to you. Use commands like “heel” or “focus” to regain their focus and reward them for listening to you.
Only resume your walk when their leash is relaxed. You can also turn around and walk into the opposite direction.
This can require some patience on your part, and you may not get very far distance-wise at first, but I promise it’ll pay off!
Consistency and Patience
Speaking of patience, it really is key in puppy leash training, and so is consistency.
You’ll want to practice regularly, but remember that each puppy learns at their own pace.
So be patient, stay calm, and celebrate small victories along the way!
Yay, good job, puppies!
How To Teach Your Puppy To Walk On A Leash: Bottom Line
While puppies are a lot of work and require lots of your time, energy, and patience, there’s a huge PRO to raising a young puppy.
And that’s the fact that you can take advantage of training the puppy in those first 5 months of his life when he’s most impressionable.
So, don’t put off puppy 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 get your puppy used to the feeling of a collar and a leash, and to teach them polite leash walking skills.
Remember to introduce the leash gradually and associate it with possible experiences.
For example, dog training treats and verbal praise.
Allow your puppy to explore and become comfortable with the leash before proceeding.
I followed Cesar Millan’s advice and let my puppies Missy & Buzz walk around the living room with their leashes clipped to their puppy collars a few times every day.
They’d play with a toy and/or chew on a bully stick for puppies while wearing their collar/leash combo.
And what do you know, it worked out great!
By the way, bully sticks are one of the best puppy dog chews out there.
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.
After all, their bladders were so tiny that they had to relieve themselves after every nap, play session, crate time, and meal. So that must have sped up the process of getting used to wearing a leash.
Have you raised a puppy? How did you teach them to walk on a leash? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!
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