Most dogs love their walks and it can be quite a surprise when you first attach a lead onto your new puppy’s collar that they refuse to walk anywhere! Walking on a lead needs to be practiced and your pup needs to learn that the experience is enjoyable.
Introducing your puppy to the lead
To start, let your puppy sniff the lead. Then attach the lead’s fastening to their collar, give them a treat, then quickly remove the lead. Repeat this several times, so your puppy associates the lead with good things.
Next attach the lead and walk around your home with your puppy. Do this in an area that your puppy is comfortable, then extend this to other rooms and to your garden. The lead should be kept loose. If your pup is a little unsure, get another person, whom your puppy knows and trusts, to hold the lead while you call your puppy from a few steps away. Give your pup a treat when they come to you.
When your puppy has got the hang of walking around your home and garden, take them a little further afield, perhaps in to the front yard or driveway (when no cars are likely to arrive). From here your pup will learn the scents and noises of your neighbourhood. Before long they will be curious about the world outside of home and will be keen to investigate. This is the time to begin your walks but keep them short at first.
Keep the walks as positive as possible and always finish before your puppy becomes too tired. And remember you should not be entering public parks and off leash areas until your pup is fully vaccinated.
Choosing a lead
There are many varieties of leads in the market place (check out the Purina PetLife range). Your puppy’s first lead should be comfortable to handle and relatively short. You want to be able to control your puppy at all times. Long leashes or retractable varieties should be introduced at a later stage when you and your dog are comfortable walking together.
Difficulties walking on the lead
Puppies who have difficulty walking on the lead usually fall into one of two categories:
(i) The leash puller
The puppy who pulls on the leash is normally a very enthusiastic, energetic individual who just can’t wait to explore their world. This pup will benefit from some lessons at home.
Walk your puppy up and down your backyard or hallway, keeping the leash short and instructing them to “Walk”. When they walk with a loose lead, reward them with a “Good Dog” and a treat. If they start to pull, then stop walking and wait until your puppy is calm.
When they have learned the Walk command you can then begin the same process in the street. It may be easier to work on training when your puppy has expended some energy, for example, on the way home from your walk.
If your dog is a particularly difficult to walk or is a strong breed, you may like to consider using a walking harness.
(ii) The puppy who refuses to walk
Some pups dig their heels in the ground and refuse to walk. No amount of persuading by owners gets this puppy to move. If this happens to you, you may be as well to pick your puppy up and return home. Be kind. Your pup is likely to be a little scared of the noisy and unknown outdoor world.
At home, go back to training your puppy to accept the lead and to “Walk” with you. Always ensure your puppy is rewarded for good behaviour. If your puppy is scared of the sights, sounds or scents of the outside world, you may need to gradually introduce them to these, prior to walking your dog.
Did you know?
You can put your puppy on a lead within your home. This is very useful when you need to supervise your puppy and helps prevent destructive or annoying behaviours such as chewing, toileting ‘accidents’ or jumping up on guests.
About Dr Joanne Righetti
Dr Jo Righetti is an animal behaviourist, educating people in all aspects of the human–animal relationship. Her background is in zoology, with a PhD in animal behaviour and a counselling diploma – qualifications which enable her to work with all sorts of animals – including the human variety! Joanne likes to help pet owners understand their pet's behaviour and solve any pet behaviour problems. She consults with vet clinics, organisations, companies, councils, universities and media and is a regular guest on radio, with pet behaviour Q&As. Jo has also written a number of pet behaviour books and loves chatting to people on social media channels. Jo lives with a dog and 4 cats, as well as 3 sons and a husband. Find out more about Joanne at www.petproblemsolved.com.au.