How Do I Leash Train My Puppy?

Puppies aren’t born knowing how to respond to a leash. Teach them how with these tips.

Puppies like to explore their new world. So, from a practical standpoint, a leash gives you control and provides them with safety. But it can also mean good, quality time together as a family. Walking your puppy is one of the best family activities, and it helps with training as well.

Why Leash Train?

  • It keeps your puppy from taking off during a walk, which can help keep him safe.
  • It allows you to control your puppy when he becomes excited and/or agitated.
  • It’s a tool you can use in other training, like housetraining, learning to “Come” or other lessons.
  • In many urban areas, leashes are required in public spaces. (Click here to learn about preparing your puppy for the neighborhood.)
  • It allows you to bring your puppy with you, wherever you go.

How to Leash Train

First, get your puppy used to wearing a properly fitted collar. All puppies need to be comfortable wearing a collar, so put a non-tightening one on your puppy as soon as he comes home.

The collar should be tight enough so your puppy cannot remove it, but not so tight that it causes discomfort. Check regularly to ensure a proper collar fit by making sure you can fit two fingers between the collar and your puppy’s neck.

Once your puppy is okay with wearing his collar, follow these steps to begin leash training:

  • Attach the leash and let your puppy drag it around the house under your supervision.
  • Do not pull on the leash or try to force your puppy to go when he is resisting. Kneel down to the puppy’s level and call him in a “happy” voice to help entice him.
  • Guide your puppy to his designated potty spot with the leash during housetraining. If he resists, use a toy to lure him along.
  • Make sure to give him slack, and praise him warmly when he heads in the right direction. That, more than anything, will signal that he made a good choice.
  • It is customary to walk puppies on the left side. Get your puppy used to walking on your left side by simply guiding him there each and every time you go outside together. Praise and reward him any time he shows up in that position.
  • Encourage your puppy to focus on you when you go for walks by using plenty of encouragement. Give commands and communicate.
  • You may also want to start teaching the “Heel” command when you start taking walks. (Click here to learn about obedience commands.)  

Consider using a harness rather than a collar for brachycephalic breeds (breeds with pushed-in faces, like pugs).

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