Ever seen those people walking their dogs where everything looks so…. controlled? Serene? Pleasant? How do they do that? If your walks have always been more like a speed run with the added bonus of a serious upper arm workout, fear not. Anyone can teach their puppy to walk on a lead properly, but it does take some effort and persistence.
Here’s how to teach your puppy to walk on a lead
Alright, puppy school is in session! With these tips, your little floofball will be walking like a pro in no time at all.
If you have an adult dog, these tips are still helpful – but as usual, it’s easier to teach the youngsters.
Get them familiar with the lead first
Don’t just abruptly throw on a collar or harness and a lead and expect your puppy to be ready to walk straight away. Start off small and get him or her used to wearing a collar around the house. Attach the lead and let them drag it around the home first to get used to the feeling of it (watch they don’t injure themselves).
Dogs often won’t like the harness initially either, so if you want to walk with one instead of a collar get your puppy used to that too.
Remember to reward them when they’re in their “walking gear” so that they start forming positive associations with it from early on. Choosing the right lead can be like trying to pick what to go for first at a buffet (paralysing due to all the options!) so here’s our guide to dog leashes and leads to help.
Teach your puppy to walk on a lead
There are lots of different approaches to teaching your puppy to walk nicely. Generally, it’s recommended that you do this with the help of a puppy school or dog trainer to make sure you get it right. Just like with toilet training your puppy, us humans sometimes get frustrated and tell them off at inappropriate times, which is where the supervision of a dog trainer can be helpful.
However, plenty of happy dog walkers have tackled it alone and enjoy daily, well-mannered walks. If you do your research and know that you can tackle things calmly and consistently, you should be able to manage just fine.
Steps to walking well
Not everything that works for one dog will work for another. After all, they’re individuals just like children. However, here are some basic steps to follow for every doggo:
- Choose a good environment to start teaching your dog to walk. The world’s busiest dog park is not ideal. Look for somewhere safe, quiet, and distraction-free.
- Keep walks short. Puppies have short attention spans, and you don’t want them to be too mentally tired to absorb your teachings.
- A well-socialised dog will almost always be easier to walk. This doesn’t mean your puppy has to be extroverted, just relaxed and comfortable in various different social situations. Give them a good start by gradually increasing interactions with other dogs/people in controlled, safe environments. Puppy school, doggy daycare, and visits to family and friends are helpful.
- Use a phrase or word as your dog’s command to walk by your side without pulling. This could be ‘’here’’ or “heel” or even “walk nicely.” Say it when they’re by your side, and then start walking calmly.
- Bring treats. Bribery and puppies go hand in hand! To teach your puppy to walk on the lead nicely, you want them to realise walking calmly by your side is ideal. When they’re offering the behaviour you want, instantly reward with a biscuit, piece of meat, or their favourite treats.
- Teach your dog to walk with no pressure on the lead. They must learn when there’s lead pressure (from a shortening or pull from you) they don’t go anywhere, and when there’s none they can walk. If they pull or strain against the lead, stand still until they return to you. When they do, praise and walk on. Puppy will quickly learn if they want to walk, they must stay on a loose lead by your side.
Remember, go at their speed
Like people, puppies learn at different rates. Whether your puppy takes to long, peaceful walks like a duck to water or not, be sure to go at their pace. Don’t rush them along or skip the basics. The same goes for puppy training. Give them time, space, and consistency and you’ll always be ok in the end.
It might take a few months to teach your puppy to walk on a lead properly. You’ll be glad of it in the long run though. Patience is a virtue, as they say.
Protect that curious puppy!
Anyone who’s taken their puppy for a walk knows that they say hello to every living being, and that their noses are in everything. If their curiosity gets the better of them on a walk and they end up needing a trip to the vet, your pet insurance will be there for you.
Teach your puppy to walk on a lead – over to you
Share your best tips in the comments for relaxed walkies with your four-legged friend.