You’ve got a young pup but are unsure when you should start leash training, right?
I get it.
I was recently in your exact position with my poodle-cross, Bailey.
I didn’t know when we needed to start the process, when was too soon, or when was too late.
I liaised with several professionals and fellow puppy owners and never looked back.
So today, I’d like to share my story and guide you through the best practices of leash training your puppy, including when to start, how to introduce the leash, and things to consider during the process!
When Should I Start Training My Puppy on a Leash?
The ideal age to start leash training a puppy is between 8 and 16 weeks old. At this stage, puppies are most receptive to learning and will typically take to training much more successfully.
Take my experience with Bailey, for example.
I brought Bailey home when he was nine weeks old.
I knew that the sooner I began leash training, the easier it would be for both of us.
So, we started right away, and by the time Bailey was four months old, he was a pro on the leash.
I cannot emphasize enough how much of a difference it made in our daily walks and overall relationship.
In other words, you will likely want to start leash training as soon as you bring them home (assuming you get them from 8 weeks of age, which is typically the standard).
How Do You Introduce a Puppy to a Leash?
Introducing a puppy to a leash can be both fun and challenging.
Here are the steps I followed to introduce Bailey to his leash, which can help you make the process smooth and enjoyable:
Choose the Right Leash and Collar
Before introducing your puppy to the leash, you need to choose the right equipment.
I selected a lightweight, flat collar and this adjustable, high quality leash for Bailey.
These materials were perfect for a small, growing puppy like him.
It’s important to avoid retractable leashes during training, as they can make it difficult to maintain control and teach proper behavior.
Here is my recommendation: Best Leash For Puppy Training
Make the Leash and Collar Positive Associations
I would put them on Bailey for short periods inside our home to create a positive association with the leash and collar.
I would then reward him with treats and praise, so he would start associating the leash with good things.
This step is crucial, as it helps puppies feel comfortable wearing the leash and collar.
Start with Indoor Training
Before venturing outside, I began leash training Bailey indoors.
This allowed him to focus on the task at hand without being overwhelmed by outdoor distractions.
I started by walking with him on the leash, encouraging him to follow me, and rewarding him with treats and praise for good behavior.
Gradually Move to Outdoor Training
Once Bailey was comfortable walking on a leash indoors, we moved our training sessions outside.
This was a big step, as it introduced new distractions and challenges.
By practicing in a controlled environment like our backyard, Bailey gradually learned to focus on me and ignore distractions, making our walks more enjoyable and stress-free.
Things to Consider When Training a Puppy on a Leash
As you embark on your leash training journey, it’s important to keep the following factors in mind:
Patience and Consistency
Remember that puppies have short attention spans and can be easily distracted. It’s essential to be patient and consistent in your approach.
I found that short, frequent training sessions worked best for Bailey. We would practice for about 5-10 minutes at a time, several times a day.
Using positive reinforcement is key to successful leash training.
Whenever Bailey exhibited good behavior on the leash, I would reward him with treats, praise, or playtime.
This helped him understand what was expected of him and encouraged him to repeat the desired behavior.
Avoid Tugging and Pulling
It’s crucial to avoid tugging and pulling on the leash while training your puppy. Instead, gently guide them where you want them to go.
I would stop walking with Bailey and use a cue, like “this way,” when he pulled on the leash.
Once he relaxed and followed my lead, we would continue our walk. This taught him to pay attention to my cues and not pull on the leash.
Be Sure To Socialize
Leash training is an excellent opportunity to socialize your puppy with new people, animals, and environments.
As I walked Bailey on the leash, we would encounter different situations that helped him become more confident and well-adjusted.
Just remember to keep the experiences positive and don’t force your puppy into anything they’re not comfortable with.
Adapt Your Training to Your Puppy’s Needs
Every puppy is different, and you may need to adjust your training approach to suit your dog’s unique personality and breed traits.
For instance, Bailey is a poodle-cross, which means he’s intelligent and eager to please, making it relatively easy to train him.
However, other breeds may require more patience and a different approach.
Seek Professional Help if Needed
If you’re struggling with leash training, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.
They can provide valuable insights and techniques to help you and your puppy succeed.
To summarize, the ideal age to start leash training a puppy is between 8 and 16 weeks old.
By positively introducing the leash and collar, practicing indoors and outdoors, and considering factors like patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, you can successfully train your puppy to walk on a leash.
My experience with Bailey has been a rewarding and enjoyable journey, and I’m confident that by following these tips, you can have the same success with your puppy.
Related guides you may want to read:
- How To Train A Puppy To Walk On The Leash Without Pulling
- How To Get Puppy To Stop Biting On The Leash
- How Long Does It Takes To Leash Train A Puppy
- Should A Puppy Be On The Leash All The Time?
- Do Dogs Naturally Stop Pulling On The Leash?
- Why Does My Dog Pull On The Leash?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.