Walking Your Puppy
Training your puppy to walk on a leash can be a challenging task. It will be in the dog’s nature to wander off and inspect everything that crosses their path, but this instinctual behavior does not lead to a pleasant walk for you. As the “alpha” you must help the dog strike a balance between the dog’s natural instinct to explore and walking on leash in a controlled manner.
The first thing that must be done is to purchase a leash with an appropriate length for the size and weight of your dog along with a nice heavy duty collar. Some people opt to use a harness while the puppy is still small to better control the dog’s instinct. The use of the leash and collar or harness will allow you to best control your dog in a safe and effective way while remaining humane and loving. Choker collars, however, are NOT recommended as they are likely to harm the dog.
One important step to consider is making sure your dog does his ‘number two’ business before you leave home for your walk. If the dog learns that the walk is time to use the potty, you will always be stuck carrying bags to clean up after your dog. You should teach the puppy to potty in a certain area of the yard. To be safe, always carry a bag with you on the walk, but not having to use it makes for a more enjoyable walk for you.
Training your dog to walk on leash can be very time consuming and will require you to be patient. Don’t expect your first walk to be long in distance, as it is a training session that requires a lot of stopping and starting to show the dog how things must be done.
Training Your Dog to Walk On a Leash
- Select a side of your body you will want the puppy to walk on, and demand that the puppy always walk on this side. Keep in mind that this behavior will eventually stick with your puppy, so make sure you are comfortable with the position of the leash and your arms.
- Take a few steps, but stop them abruptly when they begin to pull on the leash. Make them sit and reward them with praise and restart.
- Every time the puppy pulls on the leash, repeat the above step. It is quite likely that you won’t get very far and will have to stop and start many times.
- You can allow your dog to veer off of the beaten path, but only if they do not pull the leash or attempt to smell things. Your puppy may wish to ‘mark’ with their urine along the walk. This behavior is normal and acceptable, so long as it does not become constant.
- When the puppy stays on pace with your walking speed and keeps to your side praise them with a treat.
- Along your walk you may come across other people or dogs and your puppy might become anxious, pull or bark. Reassure your puppy that he is okay with affection, but if they get too anxious or excited have them sit and wait for the people to pass by.
- Children are usually always interested in puppies and it is in your best interest, as well as your dog’s best interest to teach them how to properly interact with children. You must always be in control of this situation. When allowing others to pet your dog, make the dog sit and behave while they do it, as this will reduce the possibility of the interaction getting out of control.
- Walk your dog at least two times per day or more while the puppy is still young. This acclimates the dog to walking with you on the leash and helps them expel unused energy in a healthy way.
As the dog grows up you may consider allowing them to walk off leash. If you choose to do this, use a tremendous amount of caution, especially when there are cars present. Even the most well behaved and trained dogs can be unpredictable, and you never know when something may cross their path and derail their current behavior. Because of this, walking a dog off leash in an unsafe or unsecured area is generally not recommended.