By: Asar Yousuf
Leash Training your Puppy may seem like a mountainous task on the first try. However, knowing what to do can make it another simple-to-perform task. See all you need to know about successfully making your new Puppy comfortable with the leash
Choose the suitable harness and leash
Before you consider leash training your Puppy, you need to settle for the appropriate collar, harness, or leash. Get a cozy-fitting harness for really young puppies, preferably something not too loose or tight. Afterward, go for a leash that is about four or six feet long and attach it to the Puppy. The harness must be light with a simple, non-cumbersome leash for the Puppy. Then allow the Puppy to play around with the leash. This move will help the Puppy become familiar with the leash. You should practice the leash walk – initially taking short steps within the house.
Implementing this step ensures a happy, friendly relationship between your Puppy and you. Your pup may not be willing to put on the harness, and this isn’t strange. While putting the saddle on the Puppy, you could play with it, and give it a toy or special treats to distract it.
Introduce your dog to the leash
Introduce your dog to the leash at a tender age. Puppies are easier to train at this age. Some dog owners, in error, think they could bypass leash training the Puppy. After all, the Puppy is all good. But as the Puppy grows older, they begin to slowly but surely exhibit bad behaviors. And gradually grow out of control. To avoid that, leash training the Puppy is important. You could teach a cue using a simple, easily understood word or sound like a cluck of the tongue. The purpose is for the Puppy, with the leash on, to walk with you and vice versa.
The Puppy already knows its name by this time and is responsive to simple commands such as Sit, Stand, Come, Wait, etc. You can go ahead with this and let the dog follow you for short distances within the house. Each time the Puppy does that, reward it with a treat. You might also discover that some puppies will rather bite on their leash. The solution is the same. Offer treats or toys to wade them off the leash. Leash training the Puppy will make their legs longer, their muscles stronger, and naturally increase their pace.
Apply the “heel” factor
Simply put, this is making your puppy walk at your heel or beside you. Training your Puppy to be at your heel can be challenging. But it’s a lot easier if the Puppy has been taught some simple commands prior. Start this training at home first with fewer distractions than outside. In getting a dog to be obedient and responsive, you need a lot of patience and consistency. To achieve making your dog walk closely beside your heel, you also need to be able to listen closely.
Now, you don’t want your puppy winding or snaking around as you walk. If it does this, stop walking and stand firm. Then you can call the pop with a cue you have already taught it and reward your pup with a tasty treat. Repeat this process until little Puppy gets used to walking beside you.
As a matter of fact, choose a side meant for the Puppy to walk and maintain. If it strays, trick the pup back to its own side of the walk for discipline purposes. Never hold the leash with your hand on the side of the dog. If the Puppy is on the right side, secure the leash with your left hand and use the other hand to give treats as you walk on.
Each time you take a walk with your Puppy, use the heel factor. You may want to increase the gap between treats to instill good behavior in your Puppy. This is because you don’t want to train your Puppy into believing that it can exhibit bad behavior in order to get treats from you.
Fend off Pulling and Lunging
Ordinarily, you would expect that after taking the Puppy through the “heel” factor routine, it shouldn’t pull, lounge, or even bark repeatedly at things or people anymore. But puppies being what they are, with a short attention span, get excited by the sight, smell, and sound around them. This calls for you to keep them focused on you. You can give them a tasty treat or their favorite toy or even play with them. And when they come back, get up and go in the opposite direction to ensure they follow you and stop pulling or lunging.
Also, you can achieve better control of your Puppy by using a short leash with some tiny bit of slack. Most times, puppies don’t pull or lunge without reason. They may see other dogs like them, strangers, a fascinating sight, or anything at all. Walking in the other direction and waiting until the excitement disappears whenever this happens. You don’t want to harm the dog by yanking off or even yelling. This will destroy the friendship you have built over time.
You also don’t want to risk allowing him to think that pulling or lunging is a good attitude, so you may not give him a treat; remind your Puppy of the cues taught previously.
If your Puppy pulls or lunges unchecked, and you try to keep pace with it, you’ll be erroneously teaching your pup that it’s OK to pull or lunge. Instead, you can improvise by doing some add-ons like direction, turning around, and giving commands like Sit down and stay, Stop, etc. This will keep the Puppy engaged and heighten the communication between you two.
Take it Outside
Yes, your Puppy has been schooled on walking on a leash, heeling, managing pulling, barking, lunging, etc. It’s time to explore varied environments other than your yard or court. You can take your dog to a new and more distracting environment. Teaching a dog all kinds of activities in an environment that it is familiar with doesn’t guarantee an absolute great behavior in a new environment.
It is typical of puppies to want to have an experience of their world. As a dog owner, It’s advisable to extend its leash and give your pup time to do its business. Your walk outside may not be a continuous forward movement. Here, you should brace up to manage the Puppy’s reactivity, especially when it encounters irresistible sights. Sights like a child playing with a ball, squirrels, or other dogs running around.
You have to offer extra support to help them keep their focus on you. Whenever the dog exhibits unrest, stop walking. You could offer a treat. Hold it close to its nose, wait until it calms down before you reward it, and then your walk continues. Find a pace workable for you and your dog as you do this. Now, you don’t want your pup pulling ahead or lingering behind in their favorite spots. So you have to arrive at a pace that is comfortable for the two of you.
The mainstay of training your pup on a leash is repeating actions and positive reinforcement. As you take it outside, give your dog more cues such as “This way!”, “Let’s go!” etc. These verbal cues will help you and your Puppy have a more enjoyable walk together.