Training a Puppy to Walk on a Leash

by Melissa R. on June 21, 2013

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Teach your puppy to walk on a leash Who can relate to this….

Puppy leaping, spinning, jumping, pushing, biting, chewing leash, barking…. You, looking overwhelmed on the street, while your neighbors watch you try to walk your puppy.

I can! We hadn’t done too much loose leash walking up until about 18 weeks old – a bit here and there, mostly keeping it fun and not worrying about too much pulling as she wasn’t too big (only 23lbs right now) – yet. We also live on a lake, which was frozen over, and not many people around – so mostly we just walked around the lake with a 50ft line on and she runs around having fun and not a lot of worry about a leash.

But, once the lake is thawed, and we were walking on the leash more and learning. Boy what a challenge! I admit that it probably has been easier with her than it could be with other puppies, but still… About every 5 minutes, she’ll stop her sniffing/walking and start coming at me – jumping, biting me, grabbing her leash. It is VERY DIFFICULT to get her to stop. Ignore, discipline, treats… ugh. Not to mention the mud that arrived with spring…
Have lots of treats handy
But one day I took some time to watch YouTube Kikopup and Tab videos on leash walking and took those tips to heart. (Be sure to check them out)

So I was prepared now, and headed out for our walk with a baggie FULL of high value treats mixed in with some food. We started off, and every 30 seconds or so, if she was starting to pull, I’d call her name really happily, and bring her back to me with a treat. Then I had her sit in heel position (seated at my left side), and gave her a treat. And then we headed off again.

Also, whenever she looked over at me and made eye contact, I praised A LOT!! GOOD PUPPY!! GOOD PUPPY!! GOOD PUPPY! and brought her over for a treat.

Happy puppy enjoying her walkIt was amazing how well this worked! I was SO HAPPY walking with her! What a change from frustrating – ready to cry, puppy jumping and biting at me… WOW. She did SO WELL. And part of the time, she just was trotting next to me looking for treats.

Granted, I was exhausted from all the “GOOD GIRL!!!”-ing, and we went through all our treats, but it was worth it. She only had 2 small bouts of jumping/biting, which she quickly stopped when she realized if she sat, she’d get a treat and continue walking with treat in hand…

Hopefully this story will help you out as well.

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UPDATE: Emme is now 30 weeks old and walking is going REALLY GREAT! We no longer have the biting, spinning, jumping. I usually only bring a handful of treats with nowadays, if any. She still pulls a bit now and then, but some gentle tugs or calling her name usually works well. She’ll even walk a nice formal heel position for quite a ways! We still have issues when she sees other dogs or people, but overall things are SPECTACULAR! It takes time and patience but it pays off in the end.


About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the DrsFosterSmith.com and LiveAquaria.com websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

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