In the beginning, puppies are so overwhelmed by their new, colourful, and smell-intensive world that they scamper from one distraction to the next if they don’t have any guidance. The leash initially seems like a foreign body to a dog but, in our society, you have to have one. How do puppies learn to be on a leash? And what can you do when your dog pulls on his leash? Read the following tips so you and your dog can have relaxed walks together.
Frolicking around is great, playing even better, but what is this person trying to achieve by attaching this long rope to my neck? Being on a leash is anything but self-explanatory to a dog. However, when a dog pulls on his leash his entire life, it’s usually not the dog that’s the problem.
What are the most important rules for training your puppy?
For many dogs, being on a leash is associated with negative feelings: they’re going to be restricted, the situation is suddenly serious, they can’t do nice things anymore. Therefore, the first trick in teaching your puppy to be on a leash is to keep him on a leash during positive activities. He can also wear a leash while playing or eating. When you put it on, make sure that your body language is open and give him affection in the form of cuddles. Then your puppy will associate the leash with lots of nice things in the future.
The first attempts at walking with a leash should be in a straight line. You walk side by side and the leash is slack. If it works, reward your dog immediately. As soon as your puppy pulls on the leash, stay standing. Talk to him and wait until you have his attention, then change direction. These changes in direction should only be made by you, don’t run after the puppy. The constant stopping, responding, slackening the leash… taking it gradually will bring about the desired learning effect.
Directional changes, which are unexpected but never abrupt, are one thing your dog has to be prepared for. The other is the reality of the leash itself. Be sure to switch between collar and chest harness to make it clear to your puppy that it’s not the aid that matters, but his behaviour.
Consistency and patience are the keys to training your puppy. Dogs sense when you’re unsure and take advantage of this. Remember that you are the decision maker: Where to go? Where is safe? You lead your dog and he’ll gain confidence in you if you consistently follow through with your decisions. So, it doesn’t make sense to chase after little explorers or to make “an exception” and leave the puppy on the dog run by himself.
Speaking of the dog run, this is obviously not the right environment to start training. It’s best to start within your own four walls or in the garden. You should enjoy the undivided attention of your puppy - strange smells, people and animals are pure distraction.
You need to go on varied walks with your dog:
Walking together can only work if you walk fast and your dog slows down his “normal” speed. If you’re too slow, you risk him pulling on the leash. However, you should not have to run beside your dog to keep up with him.
Every new beginning is difficult. For your first attempts, you should only train your dog with a leash for a maximum of ten minutes. If your puppy masters walking on a slack leash, you can slowly increase your demands: you can gradually introduce acoustic signals for this manner of walking, e.g. “leash” or “foot”. The directional changes become less frequent and you can increase the difficulty level for both of you by visiting places with more distractions. If the challenge turns out to be too big, take a step back and continue training slowly.
Usually dog owners reward their dogs with treats or toys. But there’s also the possibility of using the challenges in your surrounding area as rewards. Your puppy pulls on the leash and is eager to make the acquaintance of a particular dog. Allow the leash to slacken so your dog can sniff the strange dog as much as he likes. It’s important here that you identify this moment and don’t lie to yourself, because, in reality, your dog has taken control.
Fear is a bad mentor – for dogs, too. It’s hopefully self-evident to you that the training process will never work through fear and pain. Instead, make sure that the two of you are as relaxed as possible. Handling the leash well is also a question of the safety you provide to your dog. This is achieved through positive body language, praise, and rewards. A break in training that’s spent cuddling is well-invested time. Don’t force it – rather learn together and stay relaxed.
Why dogs pull on the leash
As annoying as it may be sometimes, there are reasons why your dog is pulling on the leash:
Your puppy is stronger than you thought and pulls you through a freshly planted flower bed? Or you let him off the leash prematurely and now he’s fighting with another dog? These situations are unpleasant and usually also have financial consequences. To insure yourself against possible claims in advance, you can take out dog liability insurance. Before buying a puppy, have an individual insurance package put together, such as Coya offers.
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Dog Liability is like Private Liability Insurance but for your dog. It covers you against physical or material damages your four-legged friend might cause to others. Sometimes these damages can get quite costly, so just to make sure you are safe, we cover you up to 30 million euros.