There’s lots to learn when you take on a puppy and lots of challenges ahead. One of the most important and basic things you need to teach a new puppy (or older dog if they’re new to your family and untrained) is lead training. You can save yourself years of frustration by getting this right from the start.
Here is a simple method to help you lead train your puppy:
Puppies can be easily distracted by anything around them so it’s a good idea to start your leash training in a quiet area away from distractions. Indoors or outdoots is fine, as long as it’s away from noises and moving stimuli like children and other animals.
All you need to get started is: a lead, a collar and some sort of squeaky toy or other noise based training device (a whistle for example) which will be used to keep your puppy’s attention on you when needed.
Make sure your dog is interested in the squeaky toy and gives their attention when you squeak it or wave it around. If the dog is not interested (not likely!) spend a little time making a fuss with the toy until the dog understands how exciting the toy is 🙂
Now it’s time to start the training:
Make sure the puppy is wearing his/her new collar – the collar shouldn’t be too tight on your dogs neck, 2 fingers worth of space is a general rule of thumb, and make sure to buy one that you can extend as your puppy will grow rapidly.
Attach the lead to your dog’s collar and hold it so that there is not a lot of length in the lead by using a shortened extended lead, or by coiling a regular lead in your hand. (Don’t forget to keep the squeaky toy to hand too!)
When you’re ready to start walking, give the dog a voice command such as ‘let’s go!’, in a cheerful and positive tone. It’s important to keep voice commands consistent throughout a dogs life, so choose something that you’ll feel comfortable saying for years to come.
The dog will most likely begin to walk with you, but if not the shortened lead and the movement of the squeaky toy in your hand should give the dog a gentle nudge prompting him/her to start moving. If you feel the dog is not paying you enough attention at this stage, try squeaking the toy once as you set off (but try not to overuse the toy as this can lessen the effects).
Walk for just a few steps at a time in the beginning stages until your new puppy has gotten used to the lead and setting off when you do. If you try to do too much at this stage the dog could become bored and stop paying attention, which will mean the training won’t ‘stick’ as you need it to.
Keep up the training in 4 or 5 short sessions each day and work up to removing the squeaky toy so that the dog focuses his/her attention completely on you.
If you can master the basic training techniques such as lead walking, recall, the ‘leave it’ command etc. early in a dogs life you will definitely save yourself a lot of hassle in the long run and you, your family and your dog will be much happier.