Teaching Your Puppy to Walk on a Lead

Teaching your puppy to walk on a lead is essential. Although most dogs come to love going for a walk, they can find being attached to a collar and lead daunting at first. With a lot of patience and the right approach you will have your pup walking on the lead like a pro in no time.

Step 1

Start with a simple flat collar and light lead. Get your puppy used to wearing the collar by putting it on for short periods of time to begin with. If you notice him scratching at the collar try and redirect his attention with a game or short training session to take his mind off it. Once he is used to the collar, you can start to get him accustomed to the feeling of the lead dragging behind him. An easy way to do this is to attach the lead and let him run around or play in the backyard under your supervision.

Step 2

Now you can start to pick up the lead and train him to walk alongside you. Some dogs may just start trotting happily alongside you, but others can be more challenging. The two main problems that you are likely to encounter are:

Puppy Sits Down and Won't Move

This is a common response initially, especially if your puppy is in a new and potentially scary place. Overcome it by getting down on your his level and enticing him to move forwards with a treat or favourite toy. As he moves forwards give him lots of praise. Be patient with him and in time you will find that he becomes more confident about walking with you.

Puppy Pulls on Lead

Pulling on the lead means your puppy is excited and can't wait to get out and explore the world! If your puppy begins to pull, stop and call him back to you and praise him. Start walking again, this time with a handful of treats in the hand closest to the puppy. Lure your dog along with the treats in the desired direction, giving him plenty of praise and a treat every few moments to reward the behaviour. Once again, if your puppy begins to pull, stop and call him back and repeat the process. Over time you can increase the interval between the treats from a few seconds to a few minutes and then longer as he starts to get the idea. This method will take time and patience but is an effective and gentle way to train your puppy to walk at your side.

If you are still having trouble with a puppy that pulls, you could also try using a Gentle Leader or Halti headcollar. These are designed to distribute pressure across the bridge of the nose to discourage him from pulling.

It is important that you are patient with your puppy while you are training him. Walking on a lead can be a challenge for him at first, but with perseverance, kindness and some tasty treats as motivation, you can train your puppy to walk nicely on the lead beside you.

Posted by Dr Teagan Lever

When Teagan's not busy sharing her knowledge of all things pets as Pet Circle's resident vet, she is the human companion of two intense English staffies and a three-legged cat named Steve.

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