Accustoming Your Pup To The Leash

Most puppies, at first, resist walking on leash. They buck, pull back, throw themselves on the ground and generally do not have a fun time. We have, over the years, used this gentle and easy method to teach  literally thousands to walk boldly and with confidence.

    What is required is a soft, buckle collar, a leash that is comfortable in your hands and a supply of tasty treats with which to reward his efforts.

Step One: Accustom the puppy to the collar.
   You can do this simply by putting the collar around his neck and letting him wear it for  several days. At first, he will scratch at it as though it causes him  to itch. That's fine. Most puppies react to the collar in this  manner. In a few short days, he will be used to having it around his neck.

Step Two: Accustom the puppy to the feel of the leash.
     Clip the leash to your puppy's collar and drop it on the floor. Let him drag it around with him until he is used to the feel of its dragging  behind him. Do not leave him unattended while he is dragging the leash because, if it becomes tangled on a furniture leg or the like, it can give him a fright that may set his training back by several days.

Step Three: Accustom the puppy to the feel of you holding the leash
     Reach down while your puppy is dragging the leash and gently pick up  the end of it. Try not to put pressure on the leash.  Follow the puppy  about the house or yard. When this does not unduly bother him, momentarily put just the slightest pressure on the leash and instantly  release the pressure. Continue this until the puppy is not bothered by  it. Gradually increase the time that you have pressure on the leash. Do not stop walking, but continue following the puppy. If he should  begin to struggle, release the pressure and start over with this step.

Step Four: Teaching the puppy to yield to leash pressure.
    When your puppy is walking forward with intermittent pressure on the leash, it is time to begin to teach him to move in the direction that the leash is pulling. In this phase of his training, we do not, under any circumstances, want to drag him.

    With the end of the leash in  your hand, stand in front of him and put just the slightest pressure on the leash.  This pressure should not be more than, maybe, one pound of pull. At first, he may back up. Do not give to him, but do not pull forward. Be patient. Give him time to figure out that he can remove the pressure by stepping forward. When he moves forward, even the tiniest amount, release the pressure on the leash and praise him  sincerely. Repeat this lesson a number of times until he is always moving forward when you apply pulling pressure to the leash.

     When he has mastered this lesson, practice stepping to the right and to  the left, applying about one pound of pull, waiting for him to yield to the pressure and then praising him generously.

Step Five: Teaching the puppy to not charge ahead.
    It is now time to take your puppy for his first real walk. Select a long straight area for  this first lesson. Put a goodly number of his favorite food treats in  your pocket. Attach the leash to the puppy's collar and put your hand  in the leash's handle. Do not fold the leash in your hand. One end is  attached to the puppy. You are holding the other end. Unfettered leash is between the two of you.

    Speak happily to your puppy and  start walking forward. If he comes with you, after a couple of steps give him a treat, praise him generously and sincerely and pet him. Move forward again. This time, your puppy must walk four or five steps to earn his reward. Gradually increase the distance he must walk in order to earn the treat, the praise and the petting.

    Should your puppy decide not to walk with you, but instead, pull back on the leash, pull forward on the leash with about a pound of pressure until he yields by moving forward. Praise him generously, give him a food treat and  continue your walk.

    Many puppies, excited about the prospect of  new things to discover, barrel ahead. Should yours do this, stop  walking. Let him hit the end of the leash at full tilt. Most, after just a few uncomfortable repetitions, quit rushing forward. Apply about one pound of pressure to the leash. Keep the pressure on until he steps back to you, yielding to your pressure.
    Under no circumstance should you move forward until your puppy has quit tugging. When he lets the leash become slack, praise and pet him and then continue your walk.

Step Six.: Teaching your puppy to turn  when you turn.
    When your puppy is no longer attempting to drag  you down the street, you can begin teaching him to turn when you want to  change direction. Do this by making a definite turn. As you turn, say his name to attract his attention and turn in the direction you want to go. Apply about one pound of pressure to the leash. As he yields  to the pressure, praise him. Walk in the direction you have chosen and  give him a food treat as he comes with you. In a short time, his name and your change of direction will be all that is required.

Step Seven: Give him practice.
    Daily walks are good exercise for  your puppy. If you will provide them, you will find that his general  behavior will be much improved. Exercised puppies do not chew, dash  about the house knocking your possessions over or make general pests of  themselves. Start out with moderate walks - a block or two - and increase their length as your puppy grows and gets stronger. The walks  are good for him, and come to think about it, they won't do you any harm, either.