STEP 1 OF 5: Introduce your puppy to their collar or harness and leash
When you’re first beginning to introduce your dog or puppy to walking or wearing a collar/harness and leash, it is important to allow them to get used to it before launching directly into leash training.
Testing it out: Start out by letting him/her get used to wearing a collar or harness and a leash. Let them wear the collar or harness with the leash attached for short periods of time in the house. During this time play with them and give treat rewards!
The key reason you are doing this is to establish a positive association between your puppy and their leash. This is critical to all aspects of training your puppy or dog, including leash training. Your puppy will learn to love “collar and leash time” as it represents treats, play, and fun!
STEP 2 OF 5: Teach them a cue
A key part of training is getting your puppies attention, which is where teaching them a “cue” is instrumental. Introduce your puppy to a sound cue meaning “food is coming” and you’ll capture their attention easily.
Some people like using clickers, others use a word like “Yes,” and some people cluck their tongue. It doesn’t matter the sound, the method is the same.
STEP 3 OF 5: Reinforce them coming to you
Once your pup associates your cue with food and is beginning to naturally come towards you when you use the cue, it’s time to establish a command which can be used for “come to me.”
Testing it out: While he/she on his way to you, still wearing the leash and collar, back up a few paces as they approach and then reward when he gets to you.
Continue this progression until your puppy, upon hearing the cue noise, comes to you and walks with you a few paces. Add a command, like “Come,” to begin building the association between coming to you, the command, and tasty treats!
Remember, puppies have short attention spans, so keep your sessions short, and end them when your puppy is still eager to do more, not when he’s mentally exhausted.
STEP 4 OF 5: Practice Inside
Now that your puppy understands how to come to you and associates their leash with fun and treats, practice walking a few steps in a room with no distractions (feeling and seeing the leash around her/him will be enough of a challenge!)
Testing it out: Pick up your puppy’s leash and practice walking a few steps in a room with them by your side. Maintain their focus on you (hold a treat if you need to) and take 5-10 steps forward. As they follow, with their collar and leash on, be encouraging so they continue to build the positive association.
Continue to offer your puppy treats and praise when they successfully complete the 5-10 steps with you as described above.
STEP 4 OF 5: Take it outside
Finally! You’re ready to test your puppy’s skills on the road and show the world their new found skills! There will be new challenges with this step as all the sounds, smells, and sights your puppy encounters will be both intriguing and new to her/him and they will want to explore (which they should!)
It is important to continue practicing the steps outline previously outside to continue building positive associations and to establish your puppy’s good leash behavior. This is most easily accomplished by having treats on you during walks outside so if your puppy is getting too distracted you can regain his/her attention.
Teaching your puppy the skills they need to thrive in the ‘human world’ is a rewarding experience. Performing the training establishes a lifelong bond with your pup! Dog Butlers University wants to promote these bonds between pets and pet owners everywhere.
Dog Butlers is on a mission to build local pet communities nationwide! We love the feeling of community and connectedness associated with being a local brand. We want to bring that personal, neighborhood service to every dog owner around the country!
Want us to write about a specific topic? Email us at [email protected]