It’s a common misconception that dogs are born knowing how to walk on a leash; however, owners must leash-train their dogs. It’s an essential skill to teach your dog, and you’ll appreciate it whenever you take him for a walk.
Introduce the collar and leash to your puppy. Allow your puppy to wear his collar and leash while you play with him and feed him treats inside. Because collar-leash time represents food and fun, your puppy should enjoy it.
Make a Cue
Introduce a sound cue that indicates “food is on its way” to your puppy. Some people like to click and treat, while others like to say “yes” or cluck their tongues. The method is the same regardless of which you use:
- In a quiet, distraction-free environment, make the noise with your puppy on a leash and collar.
- Reward your puppy with a treat when he turns toward you and looks at you. 3. After a few repetitions, your puppy will look at you and come to you for the treat.
Train Your Dog to Follow You
Back up a few paces while your dog is still wearing the leash and collar, and reward him when he walks toward you. Continue the progression until your puppy comes running to you after hearing the cue noise and walks with you for a few paces. Keep in mind that puppies have a short attention span, so keep your sessions brief and end them while your puppy is still eager to do more rather than when he is mentally exhausted.
Start with Indoor Practice
Now that your puppy understands how to approach you take a few steps in a room with little distraction. He will struggle to feel and see the leash around him. As your puppy becomes accustomed to approaching you while wearing a leash, reward him with treats and praise.
Take it Outside
Finally, you’re ready to test your puppy’s new skills. This step will present new challenges for your puppy because all of the sounds, smells, and sights he encounters will be intriguing and novel to him. Begin with short walks and be patient. Make your cue sound and move a few steps away if your puppy is about to lunge toward something or becomes distracted while on a walk (you’ll notice this because you’ll keep your eyes on him at all times). Then reward him for sticking with you.
Identifying and Resolving Common Leash Training Issues
Even if your puppy is learning to walk nicely on a leash, you may run into issues as he ages, visits new places, and encounters new distractions. You should teach him to walk on a loose leash so that both of you are more comfortable!
Here are solutions for common challenges when leash training your dog: If your dog starts pulling in the opposite direction:
Turn yourself into a “tree.” Hold your breath and remain motionless until your dog returns to you. Alternative training tools for pulling dogs include front-hook harnesses and head halters.
If your dog lunges, take the following steps:
Take the initiative if your dog is chasing something on a walk. You can increase the distance between your dog and the target by redirecting your dog’s attention with a treat. This behavior is typical of herding breeds, but any dog can be startled by something new.
If your dog is barking at other dogs while on a walk:
Some dogs, usually due to a lack of exercise, have a habit of barking at other dogs while walking. Ensure your dog gets enough mental and physical stimulation for his age and breed. If the problem persists, follow the same steps as outlined above for a lunging dog: Create space and offer treats before he starts barking so that he becomes accustomed to turning his attention to you whenever he sees another dog.
You’ll gradually reduce the number of treats and quickly troubleshoot your puppy’s needs during a walk, but it’s a good idea to keep some on hand at all times so you can reinforce good leash-walking behavior when necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should a dog learn to walk on a leash?
Leash training a puppy is best started at ten weeks, but you can start as early as four to six weeks. By this point, your puppy should be aware of the need to go outside to urinate or defecate.
How long does it take to train a dog to walk on a leash?
Puppies are easy to train and can be fully leash-trained in about a month, but dogs in the “teenage” stage or older usually require more time.
Which side should your dog walk on?
When it comes to which side the dog goes on, trainers teach show and hunting dogs to stay on their human’s left side, but for most dogs, it doesn’t matter. However, experts advise you to pick a side — left or right — and stick to it, so the dog doesn’t trip you up.
Is it acceptable to let your dog walk ahead of you?
If your dog requires extra management and supervision while out on walks, do your best to have your dog walk directly beside you at all times. Allow your dog time to explore before or after the walk, in this case.