Lead Training Your PuppyDawn Greer
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, Agility Trainer
Dawn has been competing in agility for 15 years. She has competed with 8 dogs of different heights and breeds and has competed at Grade 7 Green star/Championship level at both IKC and KC.
She has represented Ireland in agility at Crufts, World Agility Championships and the European Open.
Dawn is an avid dog lover, living with 9 four legged companions, 5 of which are retired, 3 competing and her new puppy, Wow. She loves training dogs and giving the best advice on taking care of a new pup.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Teaching Puppy to Walk on a Lead
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.