Lead Training Your Puppy

Lead Training Your Puppy

Training your puppy to walk on a lead and stay by your side is a great way to ensure your walks are safe and enjoyable for you both. Many people think dogs naturally know how to walk on a lead but this isn’t the case, and it is a skill that needs to be trained. It’s important your puppy understands not to pull or try and run away from you when he’s on the lead, as he could potentially injure himself or another dog.

Dawn Greer, Professional Dog Trainer

Dawn has been working and training with dogs for over 15 years. She has a Certificate in Canine Studies and a Certificate in Canine Behaviour & Psychology.

She is an advocate for the use of positive reward-based training methods, and enjoys watching how each dog learns, what motivates them, and how they react to challenges. She participates in many online training courses with trainers across the globe about various aspects of play training, obedience, and agility.

She currently shares her life with her dogs ranging in age from 16 years to 12 weeks. She has represented Ireland at the World Agility Open and the European Open Championships and has also represented Ireland in the International Agility Event at Crufts. She is a spokesperson for the Petmania Puppy Club where she has demonstrated her knowledge and expertise in obedience training young puppies.

Getting Prepared

The best place to begin training your dog to stay on a lead is actually indoors. Get him used to wearing a collar first, and take him around the house on a short lead. This will help him get used to the feeling of the lead on the collar as well as being led around and following you.

Once your puppy has mastered following you around the house, you can take him outside into the garden. There’s lots of new distractions, sights, and smells in the garden, so it’s a good idea to start here so your puppy will be prepared and ready for when you venture out into the park and new areas.

For my puppy, Wow, I use a ‘long line’ when taking her around the garden and short walks. This is essentially a long lead that gives Wow a lot of freedom to explore and run around whilst also giving me some control so she doesn’t run off.

Always ensure however you use this long lead in a safe place, such as a park or your garden, and never near a busy road, as it takes a split second for your puppy to find themselves in a dangerous situation.

Good Recall is Essential 

A good recall is critical when training your puppy to walk on a lead. Your dog should not be off a leash in public without a good recall or knowing his name, so it is essential to teach them this as early as you can and when they are still in the puppy stage.

Not only is it bad manners to let your dog run around to other animals or strangers, but he could also go missing or seriously injure himself. Be respectful of other dog owners and keep him on a leash!

What Lead?

Fixed Lead:

Fixed leads are great for when you are starting out lead training. This lead won’t extend any farther and is useful for when you want to train your dog to stay by your side when out for walks.

Flexi Lead:

The Flexi Lead is great when you want to give your dog that little bit more freedom on his walks. It is important to note that redactable or flexi leads should only be used once your puppy has developed a good recall and gotten used to the lead. Only ever use it in a safe place and keep it short when near a busy road.

What Harness?

Harnesses are great option if you’d rather not pull on your dog’s neck when out for walks. To measure your dog’s harness, get a measuring tape, wrap it around the broadest part of your dog’s chest (this is usually right being the front legs.) Pull the take so that it is snug, but not tight.

If your dog measure’s between harness sizes, choose the larger size and adjust down to fit.

  1. Ribbon Designer Harness Navy Plaid

This is a popular harness that fits around your dog’s chest, wrapping the front legs, providing more control and making it more difficult for  your dog to become loose. Available in sizes small, X-Small, and XX Small.

  1. JULIUS K9 Powerharness

JULIUS K9 Powerharness is suitable for dogs and puppies of all breeds.  Its durability, comfort and security makes it popular with professional dog handlers and pet owners across Europe.

  1. K9 Explorer Reflective Adjustable Harness

The harness ensures improved visibility with its reflective stitching, giving you confidence that you can explore safely. Its simple step-in design allows you to put the harness on quickly so your four-legged friend can begin exploring sooner.

puppy on a lead with a young girl

Teaching Puppy to Walk on a Lead

  1. Before you go outside, make sure your pup has a well-fitted collar and harness and give him some time to get used to it.
  2. Next, attach the leash to your puppy’s harness and let him drag it around at home under your supervision until they get used to having the harness and leash attached to them while walking.
  3. Practice the ‘Heel’ command at home initially. This will urge your puppy to stay focused on you, since their home environment is what they are used compared to outside with lots of distractions. Pick a side for your puppy to sit next to you and stick with this side.
  4. With your pup beside you on your chosen side, and their favourite treat in hand, lower it to their nose, and with your leg closest to them, take a small step forward as you say “Heel”. As your pup follows your step, say “Good” and reward them with the treat.
  5. Once your puppy begins to get the hang of walking beside you at home, you can start to move the ‘Heel’ exercise outside in your garden, driveway, or right in front of your home.
  6. It is a good idea to pick a familiar location at first to limit the amount of distractions for your puppy. Continue the Heel training routine, and gradually start to increase the length of their “walk” until they are consistently staying on your side.

As always, the Petmania staff will be able to assist you in making the right choice for your puppy and if you have any questions at all, be sure to pop in store!


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