Let’s face it - leash training a puppy or dog can be an incredibly daunting task for many pet owners. The good news is, with a little patience, and perhaps more than a few treats, it is possible to train your furry friend to walk calmly on a leash. In this post, we’ll explore some of the best tips for leash training a puppy or dog that will help you and your furry friend make the experience a little less difficult.
Why Leash Training Is Important for Your Dog's Safety
Leash training is crucial for your dog's safety, especially when you're out in public places. Unleashed dogs can easily get injured and/or cause harm to other people and animals. Leash training your puppy is a great first step in properly training them to not get distracted by their surroundings. In fact, leash training in conjunction with basic obedience commands like "heel" and "leave it," you’ll have a lot less to worry about in the moments they are off leash.
So where do you begin in how to leash train a dog? We’ve got you covered!
How to Leash Train Your Dog
Leash training is an essential part of ensuring the safety of your furry friend while also providing them with the necessary exercise they need. Here are the steps you can follow to effectively leash train your dog:
1. Get Your Pup Used To The Collar or Harness and Leash
Before you start leash training, your dog must first get comfortable wearing a collar or harness and having a leash attached to it. Introduce these items to your pup gradually and make sure they associate it with positive experiences like treats and praise.
Which is better? Harnesses vs collars:
When it comes to choosing between a collar and a harness for a puppy, it's generally recommended to opt for a harness. Collars can be introduced as your puppy learns to walk properly or with the guidance of a professional trainer, but a harness is considered the safer option for a puppy. It provides better control, distributes pressure more evenly, and reduces the risk of neck or throat injuries.
One such harness that can assist with leash training is the Diggs Classic Harness. This premium harness is designed with features that support leash training, including a D-ring that works well for puppies or dogs who tend to pull during training. The Diggs Classic Harness is crafted for comfort and ease of use, and it is built to withstand the strength of tough pullers. With adjustable straps and both front and back leash attachment points, our harness accommodates a variety of dog sizes and shapes at different stages of life.
Need a harness or collar and leash? Check out our stylish selection of options!
2. Start Inside with Short Distances
Once your dog is comfortable with the collar or harness and leash, start practicing indoors where there are fewer distractions. Use treats to encourage your dog to walk beside you, rewarding them when they do so. Keep the distances short and gradually increase them over time.
3. Move The Training Outside
After your dog is comfortable with walking indoors, it's time to move the training outside. Start in a quiet area where there are fewer distractions and gradually introduce your dog to more stimulating environments.
Think low traffic spots such as your backyard or an uncrowded park or green space.
4. Gradually Introduce Longer Distances and New Environments
As your dog gets better at walking on the leash, gradually increase the distance you walk and introduce them to new environments. Keep in mind that dogs can get easily distracted, so be patient and encourage them with treats and positive reinforcement.
- Start with short walks around the neighborhood, and slowly increase the distance you walk. For example, if you walked 5 minutes yesterday, try adding a couple of minutes to your walk over the course of the next several days
- Only progress to additional time and distance if your dog is comfortable
- Use caution in new environments too. Only after they are used to quiet, low traffic areas should you consider higher trafficked areas such as dog parks and playgrounds where there may be more noise.
5. Give Your Dog Time to Decompress After Training Sessions
After each training session, give your dog some time to decompress and rest. This will help them associate the training with positive experiences and make them more receptive to it in the future.
Their crate is the perfect safe space for this. Check out our post on dog crate training.
Remember that each dog is unique and may require different amounts of time to learn leash training. Always be patient and use positive reinforcement to encourage your furry friend.
What to Do When Problems Show Up
It’s not uncommon to experience a few hiccups during the process of leash training a puppy or dog. With that in mind, below are a few of the most common potential problems, and how to address them.
Pulling is completely normal when you first start training your puppy or dog according to Puppy in Training. If your puppy/dog is pulling on the leash, stop walking and wait for them to stop. Once they stop pulling, reward them with treats and praise. Continue this process, rewarding them every time they walk without pulling.
If your puppy is lunging on the leash, stop walking and wait for them to calm down. Once they are calm, again reward them with treats and praise. You may also need to re-practice walking in areas with fewer distractions until your pup becomes more comfortable.
Using a harness offers additional help for both lunging and pulling
For more determined pullers, using a harness with a front D-ring can be highly beneficial in reducing this behavior and redirecting your dog's attention back to you. The Diggs Classic Harness features a front D-ring, which serves as a powerful tool to discourage pulling and lunging. With our harness’s unique design, you can confidently address the challenges posed by determined pullers, promoting a safer and more enjoyable walking experience for both you and your furry companion.
If your puppy is barking while on the leash, try to redirect their attention with treats or a toy. Alternatively, you can try to create a positive association with the leash by feeding them treats or giving them their favorite toy while they are wearing it.
If your puppy is distracted by other things (dogs off their leash, people, cars, etc…) while on the leash, you can work on redirecting their attention like you would with barking. Use treats and/or toys to grab their focus.
Remember to always use positive reinforcement to encourage your puppy during leash training. Avoid punishment or negative reinforcement, as this can make your puppy associate the leash with negative experiences. Be patient and consistent with your training, and your puppy will soon learn to enjoy their walks on the leash.
Leash Training FAQ’s
To close things out, we thought it might be helpful to address many of the frequently asked questions we see related to training a dog to walk on a leash.
What age should you start leash training a puppy?
You can start introducing your puppy to a collar and leash or harness as early as eight weeks old. That said, actual leash training should begin around 12-16 weeks of age when they have had time to adjust to their new home. This time will give them a better chance of focusing on learning. It's important to start training your puppy early, as it will help them develop good habits and reduce the likelihood of behavioral problems.
As an important side note: Before beginning any outdoor activities, including leash training, a puppy should not be taken outdoors until they are fully vaccinated and receive approval from their veterinarian. In the meantime, you can begin leash training indoors to help them adjust and develop positive habits. Remember, safety should always be the top priority for your puppy's health and happiness.
Is a harness or collar better for a puppy?
According to the American Kennel Club, both harnesses and collars have their advantages and disadvantages. A harness is recommended for dogs with neck or spine issues, and it also discourages pulling by distributing pressure more evenly throughout the body. A collar, on the other hand, is better for dogs who are already well-trained and do not pull on the leash. Ultimately, the choice between a harness or collar will depend on your dog's individual needs and behavior.
That said - for a puppy, especially one prone to pulling and lunging, we highly recommend the Diggs Classic Harness in lieu of a collar.
How do I get my puppy to stop pulling on the leash?
To get your puppy to stop pulling on the leash, use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats and praise to reward them when they walk beside you without pulling. You can also try using a front-clip harness or gently stopping and waiting for your puppy to calm down before continuing the walk. Consistency is key - make sure everyone who walks your dog is using the same techniques to avoid confusion.
How long does it take to leash train a dog?
The amount of time it takes to leash train a dog varies based on the dog's age, breed, and personality, as well as how consistent the training is. Some dogs may learn in just a few days, while others may take several weeks or even months.
It's important to be patient and consistent with your training, using positive reinforcement techniques to encourage good behavior and gradually increasing the length and difficulty of your walks. With time and effort, your dog will learn to enjoy - or at least better tolerate - walking on a leash.
Keep Your Pup Safe, Comfortable, and Stylish with Diggs
In conclusion, leash training your puppy is an essential part of their development and a great way to bond with your furry friend. By starting early, being patient, and using positive reinforcement techniques, you can help your puppy learn to walk calmly and comfortably on a leash. Remember to address any problems that arise during training with patience and consistency.
If you're looking for a safe, comfortable, and stylish harness or leash and collar set for your pup, consider Diggs harness walk set or our classic leash and collar set. Our products are designed with your pet's comfort and safety in mind and come in a range of fun colors. So keep your pup safe, comfortable, and stylish with Diggs!
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