Getting Your Puppy Comfortable With The Leash
The first step to teaching your puppy to walk on a leash is getting them comfortable with the feeling of it around their neck. If you use a slip lead which is what I recommend, then you can put it on your puppy and just hold it for about ten minutes. While you’re holding the leash, just make sure your puppy doesn’t get rewarded for pulling away. So the only thing you need to do if your puppy pulls away is hold your hand still until your puppy stops resisting. This can be challenging because it may sound like you’re hurting your puppy, but it’s not hurting them and they will quickly stop resisting if you hold the leash still. Don’t pull back but also don’t give into to the pulling of your puppy. Just keep your hand in the same spot so that when your puppy stops resisting, there will be an instant release of the pressure. They will quickly realize that they are the ones putting the pressure on and they have the ability to take it off. This is the first step toward loose leash walking.
Getting Your Puppy to Start Walking With You
To get your puppy to start moving can be very challenging at first. Every dog is different. Some puppies will start moving very quickly and other puppies will just flop to the ground. The method we use to teach a puppy to walk is the same whether you have a dog that picks it up quickly or a dog that shuts down as soon as the leash goes around their neck.
Constant pressure will only make your puppy consistently resist it. The most effective and simple way to get your puppy moving is with pressure and release. Pressure and release is a method in which you consistently put pressure on and then release it. So you will put forward pressure on your leash for about a second and then release. By repeating this over and over in a sequence, you will eventually stop your puppy from resisting and give them some forward momentum. Once they realize that moving forward takes the pressure off, they’ll start to willingly come forward. The key to this is being patient and consistent. If you stop moving forward because your puppy is yelping and staying low to the ground, you will quickly teach them that doing this will make everything stop. Instead of stopping just continue putting light pressure forward, then release the pressure and repeat. You only need to use two fingers for the amount of pressure you are using. The pressure is not meant to drag them forward and that’s why it’s not continuous. Instead, the pressure followed by release and then pressure again is meant to just boost them into a momentum of walking forward. You will need to practice this yourself to get a good rhythm going. It’s not easy at first but once you do it for a few minutes it becomes much easier. The fundamental practice of this technique takes some rhythm and a light touch like shooting a free throw. This technique will work on a puppy of any age although I do not recommend trying it until your puppy is at least 6 weeks old. The video below will give you a visual idea of how this is done and hopefully answer any questions you may have.
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