How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash

Edit Article Walking a puppy should be a pleasant experience, without constant pulling and tugging. For your puppy to walk properly on a leash, it first needs to get used to the leash. This process, which involves introduction to a leash and collar, can take up to a few weeks, so be patient as your puppy adjusts to something being around its neck.[1] With patience, treats, and lots of encouragement, your puppy will get used to its leash.

Introducing the Collar

  • How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash
    Purchase a collar.Before your puppy can get used to a leash, it first needs to be comfortable with wearing a collar. Choose a wide, flat, and light collar so your puppy will forget it’s even wearing a collar. Also, choose a snap collar, which is easier to take on and off than a buckle collar.[2]
    • Select a collar that fits your puppy now, not one that your puppy can grow into. A collar that’s too big may feel heavy around your puppy’s neck.[3]
  • How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash
    Place the collar on your puppy.When your puppy is calm, gently put the collar around its neck. Check the collar’s fit by putting two fingers between the collar and your puppy’s neck. If your fingers don’t fit, the collar is too tight. If your fingers fit snugly, the collar is just right.[4]
    • Adjust the collar, if necessary. If your fingers still don't fit snugly, purchase another collar.
    • Your puppy will probably fuss and squirm when the collar is on. Ignore the fuss. Eventually, your puppy will forget that it’s on.[5]
  • How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash
    Distract your puppy with something fun.To keep your puppy from fussing a lot with the collar, distract your puppy with a fun activity, such as eating or playing. Put the collar on right before meal time so your puppy will be distracted with eating while the collar is on.[6]
    • Consider putting the collar on before playtime.[7]Your puppy will be so busy playing with you that it will forget about its collar.
    • Play an interactive game with your puppy, such as rolling a ball on the floor and having your puppy chase after it.
  • How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash
    Increase the amount of time your puppy wears the collar.The first day your puppy wears the collar, leave it on for 5 minutes. Practice this several times, with about 45 minutes between practice sessions. Over the next 2 weeks, gradually increase the amount of time your puppy wears the collar.[8]
    • Your puppy does not have wear the collar all day. Because puppies like to run and explore, the collar could be dangerous, since it could get caught on something and cause your puppy to panic.[9]Keep the collar on only during practice sessions.
    • If you’re unsure about how long to leave the collar on your puppy, ask your vet for guidance.
  • How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash
    Take the collar off.No matter how much your puppy squirms when the collar is on, wait until your puppy is calm before taking the collar off. If you take it off when your puppy is worked up, your puppy will think you’re rewarding the squirmy behavior.[10]
  • How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash
    Decide when to give treats.Treats are a great way to get your puppy used to its collar. If you want to give your puppy treats, give small morsels so your puppy can chew them quickly. Choose when to give the treats:
    • As soon as you put the collar on: this will let your puppy know that wearing the collar is a good thing.[12]
    • While the puppy is wearing the collar: this will distract your puppy.
    • Notwhen you take the collar off: your puppy will think that having the collar removed is the reward.[13]

Introducing the Leash

  • How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash
    Select a beginner leash for your puppy.After your puppy is comfortable with the collar, it will need to get used to a leash. The first leash you use with your puppy should be lightweight.[14]Cut the loop out of the leash so your puppy’s paws don’t get stuck in the loop.[15]
    • As your puppy grows, you may need to buy a bigger and sturdier leash.
  • How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash
    Attach the leash to the collar.As with the collar, the leash may seem strange to your puppy. After putting the collar on, attach the leash to the collar and let your puppy drag the leash around the house for about 15 minutes at a time. Supervise your puppy so the leash doesn’t get caught on something and cause your puppy to panic.[16]
    • The leash will put a little bit of pressure on your puppy’s neck.[17]Your puppy will need to get comfortable with this pressure before you start holding the leash.
    • Attach the leash, without holding it, a few times per day for at least a few days.
  • How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash
    Distract your puppy.If your puppy seems to get squirmy or fussy with the leash, distract your puppy with toys. You can also put the leash on right before a scheduled playtime, or before practicing basic commands (sit,stay).[18]
    • If you put the leash on before playtime, your puppy will start associating the leash with something fun.[19]
    • Small bits of treats can also distract your puppy.
  • How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash
    Take the leash off.As with the collar, take the leash off only when your puppy is calm. Do not reward your puppy after you take the leash off.

Walking Your Puppy in Your Home

  • How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash
    Pick up the leash.Once your puppy is used to the collar and leash, start walking with your puppy. Your puppy won’t be ready for an outdoor walk, so practice walking inside first. After you put the leash and collar on your puppy, gently pick up the leash and walk with your puppy.[20]
    • Keep the leash at the height of your waist and talk to your puppy in a bright, encouraging voice (Great job! Let’s go walking!).[21]
  • How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash
    Let your puppy lead you.The first time you pick up the leash, don’t expect your puppy to start walking beside you. Instead, follow your puppy and let it get used to the pressure of you holding the leash. If your puppy starts pulling, turn and walk in a different direction, without yanking the leash.[22]
    • To stop the pulling, you can also stop walking and entice your puppy back to you with a treat.[23]Continue walking after your puppy comes back to you and you give it the treat.
    • Do not pull on the leash yourself. If you start pulling, then your puppy may start pulling, too.[24]
    • Do not hold the leash too tightly as you follow your puppy. A tight leash can actually encourage a puppy to start pulling.[25]
  • How to Get a Puppy Used to a Leash
    Encourage your puppy to walk beside you.During your walks, your puppy should walk beside you, not in front of you. To encourage your puppy toheel, hold some treats in your hand as you walk.[26]Give your puppy treats as it walks beside you so it learns that walking beside you is a good thing.
    • Keep your hand low so your puppy does not have to jump to get the treats.[27]
    • Let your puppy get used to you holding the leash before you begin practicing the 'heel' command.

Tips

  • Start getting your puppy used to a leash when your puppy is about 8 weeks old.[28]
  • When your puppy is used to a leash, you will be able to keep your puppy safe and under control during walks.[29]

Warnings

  • A leash can be frightening for some puppies. If your puppy doesn’t want to be anywhere near its leash, put the leash in places where your puppy can see it but can’t reach it. Over time, your puppy will get used to seeing the leash and will not be so scared of it.[30]
  • Don't use a leash as a punishment; the puppy will learn that a leash is bad and it will be harder to train!
Tags: Dogs
What Others Are Reading