Teaching Your Puppy to Walk On A Leash
step 1: Remember your puppy does not realise he shouldn't Pull
Don’t forget your puppy was not born knowing how to walk on a leash so must learn the skill. The best way to teach this is to use patience and positive reinforcement.
Once your puppy has mastered this skill walking will be a more enjoyable experience for you and your dog.
Dogs pull for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they love to explore their environment. Discovering new things can create a lot of excitement. Combine this with a lack of self-control and you have a strong motivation to pull. The second reason is that they are easily trained to pull. Whenever there is tension on a leash while they are sniffing they are learning to pull and will do it more. So we can be teaching pulling behaviour without realising it.
step 2: dogs have an opposition reflex
This creates a vicious cycle where a dog is being taught that by pulling they meet there needs. They may even increase the pulling pressure.
Dogs have an opposition reflex. When they are pulled they tend to pull back.
Start to train your puppy in an environment where there are few or no distractions.
step 3. exert gentle pressure
The first step is to exert gentle pressure on the leash. When you puppy responds mark the behaviour with a work or click and then reward the puppy with a treat.
step 4. make the puppy want to keep the leash loose.
Instead of tension on the leash leading to a negative consequence we should focus on making the puppy want to keep the leash loose.
Practice this over and over until your puppy gets the idea of what is wanted.
Next, the puppy must stay with you for a few steps before he gets his reward. Remember to keep it fun for the puppy.
When you see behaviors you want to encourage such as sitting or eye contact reward this with praise and a treat.
step 5. increase the time before the reward
As time goes by increase the time before the reward.
step 6. Ignore the puppy when he becomes distracted
Occasionally your dog will become distracted. Just be patient and wait until they refocus. When they do, reward them.
step 7. the treat should not be used as a lure
Do not use the treat as a lure but rather as a reward for choosing to walk on a loose leash.
Do not use the leash to direst or control your dog. The purpose of the training at this stage is to make the puppy want to stay with you.
step 8. introduce distractions
The next stage is to introduce some distractions. Start with some minor distractions such as familiar toys.
STEP 9. Use more distracting things
Progress to more and more distracting things. You may know some items which are particularly distracting for your puppy. Introduce these as a further aid to training. You can add or remove distractions based on how your dog is doing. Set them up for success.
As your puppy’s skill increases, take the more and more distracting locations. If this doesn’t work go back to the previous stage and re-practice that before moving forwards again.
These steps will build the foundation for loose leash walking.