Leash Training a Puppy

Often, when I take my puppy (now 3 months) outside to potty she jumps and bites at my pant legs (or bare legs!) and gets in front of and between my legs making it impossible to get anywhere. I’ve been shortening her leash and holding it out to the side so she can’t do it but she strains and strains. Ugh!

Our Response

Thanks for the question – this is such a common problem and I will do my best to answer it and give you some useful tips too. The most important aspect of leash training is the understanding that your dog or puppy must behave whenever the leash is in your hand or on your puppy. You need to be consistent that over excitement is not to be tolerated. It is not productive for your puppy to be exhibiting this behavior as it gets in the way of your walk and training and will mean that he won’t be receptive to your commands. Yes it is great that your puppy is happy about going for a walk but over excitement is counter productive. Consequently it is important that negative behavior including jumping up, barking and whining needs to be corrected otherwise it will become apart of your everyday walks and will take away from the enjoyment. It’s also important to remember that each and every time your puppy misbehaves while on the leash the bad behavior will be further reinforced.

1. Ok start by not walking your puppy until he is calm.

2. So this means rewarding your puppy when he is quiet and stopping any progression until he is behaved and quiet. So this means rewarding any behavior that you would like to see repeated.

3. Start by asking your puppy to sit before you even attach the leash. If your puppy starts to whine, jump or wriggle stand up and walk away. You want your puppy to understand that any negative behavior will mean that the walk will stop. If it takes ages for your puppy to behave then it takes ages. Do not attach the leash until he is quiet and well behaved.

4. Ok once you have started the walk you need to keep your puppy on a short leash. Don’t use adjustable leashes it is way to early for this – a six foot leash is perfect – keep it short at about six inches is fine. If your puppy suddenly bolts off – you should stop. Your puppy needs to understand that naughty behavior will involve the walk stopping.

5. If your dog or puppy is pulling through dominance related issues then you need to make sure that he understands that you are the pack leader – so make sure the walk has few distractions – there is little point taking your puppy for a walk where you will bump into lots of people, smells and other dogs as it will make it more difficult to practice. If your puppy or dog starts to pull (remember that you are on a short leash) stop and suddenly go in a different direction and then go in another direction so you dog is kept guessing. Make the walk really interesting you want to really tire your dog or puppy out (mentally) so dart in one direction, take a few steps and then change direction then take a few more steps and go in another direction – keep doing this for a 10/15 minutes – weave in and out of trees – just keep your dog or puppy guessing – this will tire him out – and will put you in the dominant role.

Hope this helps!