One of the first obedience lessons your puppy should learn is how to walk on a leash without pulling or tugging.
Dogs that pull excessively on their leash are not only harder to handle, they can actually harm you. Many a dog owner has been pulled down by their pet who decided to take off after a squirrel. At the very least, their tugging on the leash is not good for your shoulder.
Beyond that, tugging on the leash can actually harm your dog’s throat. Granted, this is more common for dogs that are chained, but it can still problems, and there is no reason to make your dog suffer.
Finally, the sooner you train your puppy, the better. They are just going to get stronger, and it is going to be harder to break bad habits.
It Starts With The Collar
The collar is the anchor of everything, and you’ve got to get your puppy used to that.
Be careful not to leave the puppy unsupervised as they can hang themselves trying to rub the collar off. And don’t make them wear it in their crate.
But at any other time, leave the collar on and give them time to get used to it. They may scratch at it, but after a couple of days they should forget about it… especially if they have a lot of other fun stuff to do.
Add A Leash
Now it’s time to add a leash. Puppies are going to be inclined to chew on the leash, so you might try adding something like Grannick’s Bitter Apple to the leash to prevent that from becoming a bad habit.
Don’t leave them unsupervised with the leash. The risk of them catching on something and choking is just too high.
Pick Up The Leash
This is probably the most challenging step because you need to work with your puppy to help them understand that they need to move with you.
Each dog behaves differently when you pick up the leash. Some will pull and run away. Others will sit and refuse to move. If you are lucky, your dog will be a quick learner and love walking alongside you.
The first thing is just to pick up the leash. If your dog pulls against you, stand still. Don’t yank the leash as that can damage their throat. Try to distract them so they will stop pulling.
Over time, they will learn that pulling doesn’t get them what they want.
Teach Them To Come
As they cease pulling, start teaching your dog to come to you. Step a few steps back, and using treats, coax your puppy to follow. Make it a game, and get them to follow you different directions. The idea is to get them used to the idea of following you around while on the leash is fun.
Keep increasing the distance. Ideally your puppy will now enjoy following you wherever you may go when on the leash.
Daily Practice Is The Key
This last step is probably the hardest one of dog owners to follow through on. Make sure to take a few minutes every day to teach them how to follow. Even if it takes just 5 minutes a day, that consistent practice will help them pick up on the rules sooner.
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Here’s a video of how leash training should work: