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Should A Puppy Be On The Leash All The Time?

I’ve raised multiple puppies over the years, but I strongly remember a time when I used to have those questions, like how long I should keep mine on a leash.

More specifically, I remember questioning whether I could keep them on a leash all the time!. It certainly would have been easier.

But is this recommended? Is it safe to do so? Did I in fact do this with my puppies?

Well, here is all you are going to need to know.

So, should a puppy be on the leash all the time? A puppy should not be on a leash all the time. Use a leash for safety in public areas, during training, and when meeting new people or animals. Allow off-leash time in secure, enclosed areas, during playtime with other dogs, and when practicing recall training to promote proper socialization and exercise.

But it does of course, get a little more nuanced. 

There are factors such as the puppy’s age, breed, temperament, and the environment you live in to consider here, which all affect the amount of time they can/should be kept on leash and when.

So with this in mind, let us continue to explore leash time for puppies, starting with when a puppy should even be introduced to a leash to begin with.

When To Introduce A Leash To A Puppy

Generally, puppies should be introduced to leashes as early as 8 weeks old. That being said, every puppy is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. 

Whether you introduce a leash a few weeks before, around the 8 week mark, or little after, it’s essential to make the experience positive and rewarding for them. 

Start with short sessions and gradually increase the duration as they become more comfortable.

As your puppy grows and learns basic obedience commands, you can give them more freedom. 

Some dog breeds, like Border Collies and Golden Retrievers, are known for their high trainability and may require less time on a leash. 

On the other hand, breeds like Beagles and Dachshunds can be more challenging to train and might need more time on a leash.

Regardless of breed, it’s essential to be patient, consistent, and observant of your puppy’s behavior and progress.

How Long Should You Keep A Puppy On A Leash At A Time?

Your puppy’s age, breed, and comfort level all dictate the amount of time a puppy should be kept on a leash.

Here’s a guideline on leash durations based on your puppy’s age and development:

8-12 weeks old

At this age, puppies are still getting used to their environment and learning the basics of leash training. 

Keep leash sessions short, no more than 10-15 minutes at a time. 

It’s important to monitor their body language and energy levels.

If they seem tired or overwhelmed, end the session early and try again later.

12-16 Weeks Old

As your puppy grows and becomes more comfortable with the leash, you can gradually increase the duration of leash time. 

Aim for 15-30 minutes per session, depending on your puppy’s breed and energy levels. 

Remember to always pay attention to your puppy’s signals and adjust the duration accordingly.

16 Weeks Old and Beyond

Once your puppy is around four months old and has developed a good foundation of leash manners, you can start to extend the leash time even further. 

However, it’s crucial to keep in mind your puppy’s breed, temperament, and individual needs. 

For instance, high-energy breeds may require longer sessions to burn off their energy, while smaller or less energetic breeds may be content with shorter sessions.

At this stage, the leash duration should align with your puppy’s exercise needs, which can range from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the breed and individual puppy. 

Remember that puppies have shorter attention spans and tire more quickly than adult dogs, so it’s essential to keep an eye on their energy levels and body language during leash sessions.

Additional Tips

  • Keep sessions fun and engaging: Make sure to include some playtime and exploration during leash sessions to keep your puppy interested and happy. This will help them associate the leash with positive experiences.
  • Don’t forget to factor in breaks: Puppies need regular breaks during leash sessions to rest, hydrate, and go potty. Make sure to pause and give your puppy a chance to catch their breath and relax.
  • Adjust based on your puppy’s progress: As your puppy becomes more accustomed to the leash and develops better leash manners, you can gradually increase the duration of leash sessions. Always be prepared to adjust the length based on your puppy’s comfort, energy levels, and progress.

When a Puppy Should Be Put On Their Leash

As a rule of thumb, there are specific situations where a leash is necessary for your puppy’s safety and well-being:

In Public Areas

Busy streets, parks, and other public places can be overwhelming for a young puppy.

They may get excited or scared, which can result in them running off or getting into trouble.

Having your puppy on a leash ensures you can keep them close and protect them from potential dangers.

During Training Sessions

Using a leash during training sessions helps you maintain control, provide guidance, and reinforce desired behaviors.

Need a leash? Learn more: Best Leash For Puppy Training

When Meeting New People Or Animals

Puppies can be unpredictable when meeting new individuals or animals.

A leash allows you to control the situation, preventing potential accidents or aggressive behavior.

In Unfamiliar Environments

Exploring new places is an essential part of your puppy’s socialization process.

However, unfamiliar environments can be disorienting and potentially dangerous. A leash gives you control and ensures your puppy stays safe.

When Puppies Should Not Be Kept on a Leash

There are times when it’s appropriate to let your puppy off the leash, such as:

In Secure, Enclosed Areas

If you have a fenced backyard or access to a secure dog park, allowing your puppy to run off-leash is a great way for them to burn off energy and explore their surroundings.

During Playtime With Other Dogs

If your puppy is well-socialized and comfortable around other dogs, supervised off-leash play can be an excellent opportunity for them to socialize, learn appropriate doggy behavior, and exercise.

When Practicing Recall Training

Teaching your puppy to come when called is a critical skill, and practicing off-leash in a secure area will help reinforce this command.

When You Can Start Leaving The Leash Off Your Puppy

While a leash is a valuable tool for raising a well-behaved and safe puppy, it’s essential to recognize when your puppy is ready for more freedom.

Here are some signs that it might be time to loosen the leash:

Your Puppy Has Mastered Basic Obedience Commands

If your puppy consistently follows commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come,” they are likely

Your Puppy Has Good Recall Skills

A strong recall is crucial for off-leash safety. If your puppy comes to you promptly when called, even with distractions, they’re showing they can be trusted off-leash.

Your Puppy Demonstrates Good Manners Around People And Other Animals

 If your puppy can calmly and politely interact with new people, children, and other dogs, it’s a good indication they can handle more off-leash freedom.

Your Puppy Has A Reliable “Leave It” Command

he ability to leave something alone, whether it’s food, a toy, or another animal, is essential for off-leash safety. If your puppy can reliably respond to the “leave it” command, they are more prepared for off-leash time.

Your Puppy Stays Close To You During Off-Leash Training

If your puppy remains near you and checks in frequently during off-leash training sessions, it’s a sign they are ready for more freedom.

Remember, just because your puppy displays these behaviors doesn’t mean you should let them off the leash in every situation.

Always consider the environment and potential risks before deciding to unleash your puppy.


Puppies should not be kept on a leash all the time.

But for how long, and when, does depend on several factors, such as the puppy’s age, breed, temperament, and training progress. 

Nonetheless, it’s essential to observe your puppy’s behavior and adjust the leash usage accordingly.

Leashes are valuable tools for keeping your puppy safe, teaching them manners, and maintaining control in certain situations.

However, it’s also essential to recognize when your puppy is ready for more freedom and allow them to experience the joys of off-leash exploration and play in a safe, controlled manner.

By striking the right balance between on-leash and off-leash time, you can ensure your puppy grows up to be a well-behaved, happy, and well-adjusted dog. 

And most importantly, always remember that patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are the keys to success in raising a well-mannered canine companion.

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