Whether you have just adopted an older dog or brought a new puppy home, you might need to introduce your new pet to a leash. It’s not only good dog etiquette to have your dog on a leash when you’re outdoors, but you could face legal consequences in Australia for taking your mutt out to public places without one (with the exception of designated off-leash areas).
While some dogs will take to wearing a collar and leash without much fuss, most will require some training to get them on board. Fortunately, getting your dog on a leash is one of the easier skills you’ll teach them. As with any other type of dog training, patience is key.
Steps For Getting Your Dog To Walk On A Leash
The first thing you’ll need to do is to get a collar and a leash for your dog. It might seem obvious, but its important that you get a light-weight, flat collar that’s size-appropriate for your dog. If you have a puppy, get a collar that’s made for puppies.
- Start with the collar
If your dog has never worn a collar before, or anything resembling a collar, it will be easier to get them used to it first before introducing them to a leash. Put the collar on when you’re doing other things with the dog that will keep him distracted, like playing or giving them treats. The collar should be snug enough to just allow you to put two fingers beneath it.
Keep the collar on for short periods of time while you’re engaging in pleasant activities so that your dog or puppy can start associating the collar with fun and food. Keep increasing the time as your pup gets more comfortable with it.
- Introduce the leash
Once your dog is fine with having a collar on, now you can proceed and attach a leash to the collar. Keep it positive by playing with your dog or giving treats while the leash is on. Don’t hold the leash at first, just leave it on and go on about other fun, rewarding activities.
Let the dog run around while dragging the leash so that they get used to it. Don’t allow your dog to start chewing on the leash as this could become a (bad) habit. Distract them with play and treats to prevent this from happening.
- Hold the leash
After your dog is used to having a leash on, then you can go ahead and pick it up. It’s not time to move around yet, just hold it in a stationary position to let your dog get used to the idea of someone holding them by the leash.
Try getting the dog to come to you by calling them while you hold the leash. Give a treat when they do, then step back a few steps and repeat the process.
- Get walking
Now that your pooch knows how to come to you when they’re on a leash, start practicing taking several steps in a quiet room. Don’t yank on the leash, just be patient and call her to you if she’s being hesitant.
Similar to the previous step, keep giving rewards including praise and treats whenever your pup follows you along. Make the walks longer with each session. You can also take the sessions to the yard to introduce an outdoor-like feel.
- Take it outside
Now it’s time to go outside. Expect a few challenges at first as your dog gets accustomed to all the new and intriguing sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors. Be patient and keep your walks short at the beginning.
Keep a keen eye on your pooch to see when they’re getting distracted or are about to lunge at something. If you spot this, call them, move a couple of steps away and give a reward when they come to you. Practice often and reduce treats as your dog gets used to the activity.
If you’re training a pup, keep in mind that they have short attention spans, so keep your lessons short (between 5 to 10 minutes), and end them while your pooch is still willing to do more – not when they’re mentally exhausted.
More importantly, keep it positive and remain patient, and your dog will be walking on a leash in no time.