If you’re getting ready to bring home a puppy, you may have already bought the bed, the food, the toys, and the leash. But will you be prepared to teach your puppy to properly walk on that leash—so she won’t be pulling or behaving badly when she’s bigger?
Teaching a dog to walk politely on a leash can be a challenge, particularly when they’re already grown. So take advantage of the early days with your puppy and make leash training as simple as possible with tips from Majestic Paws’ professional dog-walking team.
The Basics of Dog Walking for Puppies
Puppies are like sponges, ready to learn when positive reinforcement is offered consistently. Leash training is no different, and you can make short work of it with some targeted tips.
Ensure Proper Vaccination
There are lots of things that can happen out there in the big world…especially to little pups. It’s always a good idea to avoid contact with strange dogs, but especially when all vaccinations haven’t been completed.
So stay as up-to-date as you can with your puppy’s inoculations and always keep them on a leash.
Avoid Dog Parks
Speaking of keeping your puppy on a leash, open-run dog parks are not recommended until your dog is finished growing. Her growth plates can be broken during rough play, which can lead to lifelong problems.
Additionally, you won’t be able to account for the vaccination status of the other dogs at the park. A bite delivered to a puppy that hasn’t yet received all her vaccinations can result in serious illness or social anxiety.
Start Away from Home
It won’t take long for your puppy to assimilate to your home; to know what it smells like and that it’s a safe place where resources are plentiful. For this reason, it might be difficult to get your puppy to leave the safety of her home and head out to the noise and activity of the street.
We suggest carrying her a few blocks away and walking her back home with the leash. Making her way toward her safe haven will keep her focused and help her to understand that forward movement is a good thing.
Keep Walks Short
Puppies tire easily and that will result in a loss of attention span. They’ll shut down and may refuse to walk.
Ending your pup’s walk before they get to this point is crucial—just as it is for all types of training. Leave them wanting more, and they’ll be eager for the next session. Usually this equals 15 minutes or less for young puppies.
Bring Treats with You
If you’re training your puppy with treats (as most dog owners do), be sure to bring them while on your walks. Ask your puppy to sit at the door before leaving, at intersections, following distractions…and reward her when she does. Teach her to “Leave It” when she wants to put foreign objects in her mouth…and reward her with a treat.
All the commands you will teach your puppy apply to dog walking. And treats will be just as necessary during walks as with all other training situations.
If your puppy pulls on the leash, it might not seem like a big deal because he’s small. But someday, he’ll be bigger, he’ll be more difficult to control, and it will be harder to correct the behavior.
The best method for stopping the tugging is to only move forward when there’s slack in the leash. In other words, if he’s pulling, you don’t move. When he stops pulling, you can then go forward. Do this for a few weeks, consistently, and your puppy will soon realize that if he wants to go, he’s got to stop pulling.
Avoid Retractable Leashes
Things can happen quickly when on a dog walk, so you always need to have full control over your puppy. Retractable leashes do not provide that control. Choose a strong leash with a solid connection and with a loop you can double-wrap around your hand.
Let Your Pup Set the Pace
Some dogs are go-getters and energetic explorers, while others are careful observers and thoughtful sniffers. As long as your dog isn’t pulling on the leash, allow him to determine the pace of his walk. This is his time, and as long as he’s well-behaved, he should be able to take in his environment and gather all the mental and physical stimulation he needs to be happy and healthy.
Correct Small Problems Now
Addressing little issues like pulling, eating foreign objects, chewing on the leash, and running into the street while your puppy is young will help you avoid bigger problems in the future. If you’re having difficulty with leash training—or any kind of training—we suggest consulting with a dog training professional.
Need Help with Puppy Leash Training?
The dog-walking professionals at Majestic Paws don’t only walk adult dogs, we work with puppies during regular walks to train them and acclimate them to the outside world.
When you book a meet-and-greet with our dog walkers, you can expect the same walker to arrive within the assigned timeframe, every time. Your puppy will come to know their walker and form a bond that will become an important part of their development.