Training your puppy to walk on the lead is one of the most important aspects of your little dog’s training, and how you go about it and what your puppy learns from it will remain with your puppy throughout their whole life. However, it can prove challenging to know exactly how to go about lead training your puppy and how to manage when your puppy is full of exuberance and mischievous and doesn’t understand what is being asked of him! Here are some top tips to help get you started:
Choose the Right Equipment
You will need a comfortable and well-fitting collar for your pup, which your puppy should get used to wearing before you introduce the lead itself. You will of course also need a lead, which type will depend on how you want to walk your dog. Choose from a flat lead of suitable length for walking to heel or a retractable one. You can also purchase both to see which one is more successful and enjoyable for your puppy.
Where to Start
Your puppy should get used to wearing their collar as early as possible, and should be introduced to the lead for the first time at home before venturing out into the big wide world.
- Introduce your puppy to the lead for the first time when they are having their dinner or playing with a toy; attach the lead to the collar and leave it hanging loose while they are otherwise occupied. Remove the lead a little while after they have finished. Not only does this serve to introduce your dog to the lead when they have something else to occupy them, but it builds up a positive association in their mind with the lead equating something good, food or play in this case.
- After a couple of days, take a loose hold of the lead with your puppy, and follow them around holding the lead, without attempting to lead them in any direction. This will gradually get your puppy used to the sensation of feeling that someone is on the end of their lead.
- Begin to train your dog to heel both on the lead and off the lead; walk slowly next to your dog holding a medium length lead, and use the “heel” command to show your puppy where to walk in relation to you. Be ready and generous with the treats at this time for plenty of positive reinforcement. Be prepared to be patient!
- When your puppy can walk around with you in the home or garden safely and reliably, you are ready to take them in public to continue their training.
Top tips for Success
- Patience is key to any aspect of dog training; different dogs learn at different rates, so be prepared for training to take some time, and try not to get frustrated with your puppy. They all get there in the end, some just take longer.
- Try to choose a relatively calm location during training to ensure that there is not an excessive amount of stimulus going on during the training stage where your puppy will still need to concentrate and not get easily distracted. Once they have built up the basics of training, then you can expose them to some more stimuli.
- Don’t conduct your training sessions when your dog is excitable or brimming with excess energy; it can be helpful to tire them out a little first with play, then try training.
- Nip problems such as pulling at the lead or lunging off in the bud right away, while your puppy is still small and young; allowing your puppy to get away with these things will only result in them doing the same as an adult, and as they get older they will be harder habits to get out of.