How to Leash Train Your New Puppy

February 15, 2020
Border Collie Puppy on a Leash

​Teaching your new puppy proper leash behavior is an essential stepping stone to helping them become more socially active around other dogs. Not only does the leash act to maintain a safe distance between your dog and those that may be more timid, but it also helps to maintain a safe distance to other humans that may not be entirely comfortable around strange dogs.

A dog's natural inclination is one of curiosity and excitement, so teaching proper leash etiquette can also help keep them out of trouble and within view. The problem that so many new dog owners face is getting their new puppy to cooperate while on a leash.

Whether you're pup is just a couple months old, or over a year, it's never to early, or late, to teach them proper leash behavior. And while it can sometimes seem like a daunting task, with the proper care and a little patience, it can actually be quite easy. In this article, you'll learn exactly how to train your new dog in no time.

​Start with a Collar

​Most new dog owners don't realize that it can be considerably easier to leash train a new puppy if they're already used to wearing a collar. Depending on where you got new pup, many may already be used to wearing a collar, since it will typically hold ID tags with information about vaccinations. If you new puppy hasn't worn a collar before, you should go ahead and pick up one.

​Once you've brought it home, don't feel that you need to be in a hurry to put it on him. Let him sniff it, maybe even play with it a bit so that it feels like it's something that belongs to him. Once you do put it on, make sure it's a bit lose and not too tight. You should also let him get used to wearing it for a couple of weeks before moving on to the next steps.

Because the focus of this article is to train your dog proper behavior while on a leash, you should make sure to chose an appropriate dog collar. ​The best dog collars would be one that is either a flat collar made of either nylon or leather with a sturdy buckle. It should also be adjustable so that there's enough space for a couple of fingers to easily fit between the collar and your pup's neck.

​No-Pull Harnesses

​Once you've made it through the first stage - getting your puppy comfortable with his new collar - it's time to introduce the leash. If you happen to have a larger breed dog that's very excitable and will be able to pull you around pretty easily, you may want to opt for a no-pull harness. This type of harness will help prevent your dog from yanking you around and dragging you down the street like his play toy.

If you opt for a no-pull harness, you should be aware there are a few types to choose from. Each of these will enable you to train your dog good leash behavior and teach them not to be tempted to pull away while you're out for a walk.

The no-pull leashes are relatively simple in design. The leash connects to the front of the harness, directly on your dog's chest. Because of this design, when your dog tries to pull away, the harness causes them to turn back towards you. Because of this, over time your dog will become less tempted to continue pulling away.

​As with so many things dog related, you should let your dog sniff around the harness ​when you first bring ​it home. Once your pup becomes familiar with the new scent, putting on the harness will become a lot easier. And as always, you should use positive reinforcement, like some yummy dog treats during the training process as a reward for good behavior.

​Leashes

​Once your dog has become accustomed to wearing his new harness, it's time to move on to the next step - picking out the right leash. Not all leashes are the same and you need to make sure you choose one that's appropriate for your dog. If your new puppy is a large breed, you may want to go ahead and pick up a larger heavy leather leash. If you're new family member will be on the smaller size, a smaller, ​lightweight nylon leash will be more than adequate.

When first getting your new puppy leash trained, it's best to avoid a retractable leash as they can actually encourage him to pull away form you.

Another point to bear in mind when choosing a new leash is getting one of the proper length. When first leash training a new puppy, it's best to chose one that's about 6 feet long. This is just long enough to allow some room for your puppy to play, but short enough for you to maintain control.

​Getting Your Dog Used to a Leash

​Just as with a new collar and harness, you'll need an adjustment period for your dog to get used to their new leash. It's best not to dive right in and try taking them for long walks. You should give him time to get used to the scent. Just as with the harness, letting him smell it for a bit can work for some dogs, but you can also keep it near his food dish for a couple of days so that he's used to seeing it around.

You could also consider keeping it next to some treats. If your dog comes around the leash, give them a treat. This will help him associate the leash with something positive, allowing him to reduce any fear and anxiety over another new object.

Once your dog has gotten used to the leash, attach it to his collar or harness and let him walk around the house by himself for a few minutes at a time. The next day, you can try holding to the leash while he walks around and keep the leash on for a bit longer.

Be sure to keep some of his treats around to reward him often for his good behavior as you train him.

Practice Leash Walking

​Practice Your Leash Walking

​Before you begin to practice walking your dog on a leash, you should first consider teaching him a couple of basic commands. Teaching your dog to sit and stop would be good starters to ensure your dog doesn't wander too far. This is also important to help keep a puppy's excitable nature in check. After all, they're going to be experiencing a whole new world when you take them for their first walk.

A good method for teaching the basic commands would be to hold out a treat while signalling your dog to walk with you. Next, stop walking and command him to stop as well while holding out the treat so he can see it. Always make sure you ​reward him with the treat when he obeys your command.

You'll want repeat this process at home until you're confident that your dog is responding to your commands. If you have a stubborn puppy, or just having problems training him by yourself, consider finding a local professional dog trainer. Sometimes basic training can be frustrating and a professional can help you and your pup navigate this situation and make it much easier on both of you.

Once you've both got the basic down, now it's time to go for a proper walk - leash and all. Once your dog has learned to obey some simple commands, try getting your dog to walk around the house a a bit of a faster pace. As you do this, frequently provide him with commands to stop, sit, or walk. Make sure you have plenty of treats to reward his good behavior.

Once you feel comfortable that your dog has learn some good behaviors, move outside. Take you dog for a walk around the yard while providing the same commands as you provided while training inside your home. Since being outside may be a new environment, there will be new smells, sounds, and things to play with. If you're patient with your puppy and reward him for a good job, he'll adapt quickly to the new environment. Once he does you'll be ​ready to begin taking a well mannered dog for his first walks around your neighborhood.

Bull Terrier Sitting on a leash

​Troubleshoot Your Leash Training

​Even though you may have been successful in leash training your puppy, that's not a guarantee that he'll be able to maintain this discipline as he grows. As with most animals, even human toddlers, you're dog is going to act out of impulse when you take him outside for his walks. Fortunately, there's a few things you can do to help correct some of the more undesirable behaviors.

When You Dog Pulls Away

When you're outside, whether out of curiosity or sheer excitement, your dog may try to pull away from you. When this happens, the best way to correct the situation is to stop walking and refuse to move until your dog stops pulling away. You shouldn't yank on him, or try to drag him back to you. Simply remain in one spot until he returns. This method is a good alternative to a no-pull harness.

Traffic

Whether it's foot traffic or automobile traffic, dogs can get easily overwhelmed and confused with all of the motion around them. You should always shorten up their leash and keep you dog closer to you when you encounter moderate to heavy traffic.

Barking

When your dog is outside, there are lots of different elements that your dog may feel threatened by. This fear and heightened sense of anxiety will often cause him to bark. The first thing you should do is to stop and become the focal point for your dog's attention. Once your dog is looking at you, not the object that caused the barking, provide him with a treat and stroke his fur and talk to him for a moment. This will help to relieve any anxiety and fear he may be experiencing and provide reassurance that he's safe.

​In Summary

​While leash training your new puppy may seem like a daunting task as first, it's really not as difficult as it may seem. With a little patience, and a lot of treats, you'll be able to get your new puppy out and about in just a couple of weeks. To help make training easier for both you and your puppy, you should first establish that you're in charge. Getting him to learn some basic commands will make his leash training much easier. Just as important is to reward your puppy every time he performs a correct behavior. This provides reinforcement for the good behavior ​and will help his training go much smoother and quicker.

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