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Puppies and leash training

Puppies are adorable, but they can also be a handful when it comes to walks.

Leash training is an essential part of raising a happy dog. It might seem daunting, but with this guide, you can break down the process into simple steps that you and your puppy can master.

As your curious pup develops, it’s important you give them the time to experience wearing a harness and being on a leash, even if you are not going on a walk. Valerie Barry from Dog Partners says, “during the first few weeks of having a new puppy, the goal is not walking on leash but rather having experiences on a leash that are simply focused on keeping the leash loose while using treats and play to keep the exposure positive and fun.”

Barry also recommends keeping the training sessions short and with breaks in between.

The following exercise

The first lesson to loose leash training your puppy is “the following exercise.” Without a leash and in a safe area, perhaps a fenced backyard, verbally mark and give a food reward to your pup when they are on your side. With this exercise, you are rewarding your dog for hanging out by your side when walking. “It doesn’t take long for puppies to catch on, and we can add in the leash to the training before long, but the exercise remains the same: mark and treat the puppy for following you,” says Barry.

Photo by Julia Lomb

Three-step method for loose-leash training your pup

Another easy-to-follow training method to train your puppy to walk on a loose leash is the three-step method, as explained by Julia Lomb former trainer at Neighborhound Dog Training.

Step one: Backward follow
Walk backwards and reward your puppy for following you. Lomb says, “I really find that when I walk backwards, it often helps my puppy to focus on me and not get too distracted with other things that are in the environment.”

Step two: Forward follow
Now you can walk forward and, just like in the previous step, reward your puppy for following you. “In both cases,” Lomb explains, “I always put the treat on the ground so that I have some time to take a few steps as my puppy is eating the treat and can then reward my puppy for following me.”

Step three: Changing direction
Continue to put the treat on the ground, but this time take a step away in a different direction, marking and rewarding your dog for turning towards you.

Do you want to learn more about leash training?

Head over all about loose leash walking, where AnimalKind trainers shares knowledge about how to know if your dog is ready for loose leash walking, the equipment you need and how to get your dog ready for training.