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Leash Training Puppies: Part 2, Walking Your Puppy

By now your puppy is used to wearing his collar or harness. He may even be excited when you pull it out and before you ever put it on him because he knows he gets some treats! Now we'll introduce your puppy to walking on the leash outside.

Follow Me

Your puppy likely follows you everywhere, so why not transfer this to walking next to you on a leash? An easy way to start leash training is to hook him to your belt like an umbilical cord and have him follow you around the house.

Keep in mind that he might only follows you around now. As he develops and grows, the world is going to be much more interesting than you are! So don't count on his staying at your side forever.

puppy trainingStart with Leashless Indoor Walks

Begin to teach indoors to minimize distractions. If you don't have control of him inside, you'll have a hard time controlling him outside.

  • Without a leash on, call your puppy to come to you and walk with him next to you.
  • Walk in a straight line with your puppy between you and a wall indoors so he can't wander to the side. Give him a treat every second and say "good dog" at every step.
  • If your dog is tiny, put a treat in a ladle or use sticky treats such as peanut butter on a spoon with a long handle so you don't have to bend over so far and so his reward happens the instant he gives you the behavior you want.
  • Repeat this scenario for a couple days, and then hook the leash to your puppy.

Practice with the Leash

Your puppy likely follows you everywhere, so why not transfer this to walking next to you on a leash? An easy way to start leash training is to hook him to your belt like an umbilical cord and have him follow you around the house.

Keep in mind that he might only follows you around now. As he develops and grows, the world is going to be much more interesting than you are! So don't count on his staying at your side forever.

puppy leash trainingReward Good Heeling

  • Have him sit while you attach the leash to his collar or harness.
  • Hold the leash in the opposite hand that your puppy is walking on - if he walks on the right, hold the leash in your left hand and the treats in your right hand.
  • Reward for position. Give him the treat next to your knee and say "good dog" every time you give him a treat. Again, one treat per second until he's got it down.
  • Gradually lengthen the time between treats - instead of a treat every second, give him a treat every 2 seconds. Then every 3 seconds, etc. 5 seconds is the longest interval between treats.
  • Start giving the treats at random - at 1 second, at 3 seconds, at 4 seconds, etc.
  • Tell him "Heel" when he is walking next to you. Don't yank him into position!

Practice these steps several times a day in the house for at least a week, then practice outdoors. Your backyard is perfect to start because you can control some of the distractions.

puppy harness trainingLeash Training Tips

  • Keep the lessons short - aim for a minute of good heeling position when you first start.
  • Don't reward if the leash tightens. Stand still if he pulls and let him figure out you won't move unless the leash is slack. It takes some puppies longer than others, so be patient. The first few lessons may take longer than a minute while he figures this out. The one-minute lesson refers to walking with him by your side for one minute.
  • Train at mealtimes because your puppy is hungry and you feed him even though there are distractions. Add some delicious treats to his kibble. When you "treat" him, give him one piece at a time, sometimes feeding kibble, sometimes treats. Vary it so he never knows what he is going to get.

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