Leash training a puppy is a must-do before you try to take the puppy out for a walk. If your puppy is allowed to tug at the lead, he will start to develop bad habits that can lead to behavior problems. Proper leash training should begin at home in the back yard, away from the distractions of traffic, people and other dogs.
Collar Training Puppies
Let's face it - you're going to be taking your dog for a lot of walks, so training a puppy to be comfortable wearing a collar is important. You can't start leash training a puppy if he's constantly scratching at his collar trying to get it off.
Start the puppy off with a lightweight dog collar or even a cat collar. As he grows you can graduate him to a bigger collar. Put it on for a few minutes at a time at first, but take it off before the dog gets agitated. Slowly increase the amount of time you leave it on for. You shouldn't have to use rewards in this instance - the pup should just get used to the collar after a while. It may take a few days to get your puppy used to the feeling.
Leash Training Puppies
When your puppy is accustomed to the collar you can bring out the leash. Again, let the puppy get accustomed to the leash - let it trail behind him as he wanders around rather than trying to lead him straight away. Don't expect the puppy to follow you everywhere right from the beginning. More likely the pup will just sit and stare at you, or wander around exploring.
Use a short lead for leash training puppies, not a retractable lead. Retractable leashes give your puppy too much freedom for them to be useful in early training. Get your dog responding to your leadership and following you with a short, fixed-length lead first, then you can switch to a retractable lead.
When you first take up the lead, try to gently lead your puppy in one direction or another, but if he still doesn't comply after a few minutes of encouragement, leave it alone until the next training and try again. At this point you're just getting him used to the feeling of being led by you. This will develop the bond between you and your puppy as he starts to view you as the "pack leader." Dogs are pack animals, and any pack animal must either be a leader or a follower to be comfortable. If you are not a leader for your puppy, he will take up the role of leader himself. Then you'll have all sorts of difficulties and behavior problems on your hand. So start early and establish yourself as the leader by getting your puppy to follow you, using the leash as a gentle guide.
The Next Step
Once your puppy is comfortable with the lead, it's time to teach him to walk beside you at your own pace. A dog that constantly tugs at the lead can be frustrating and dangerous. So the next step in leash training a dog is to
teach your dog to Heel.
And don't forget - always make sure your puppy's identification info is attached to his collar before you take him for a walk. Don't ever let your puppy off the leash in a public place until he has learned to consistenly come to you when you call him.
Leash training a puppy is still just the beginning of training. As you train your puppy, you are bound to run into all sorts of problem behaviors and stressful challenges. My new ebook, The Jack Russell Lover's Ultimate Guide To Training, is the most complete guide to raising and training a Jack Russell that you will come across. It takes the stress out of training.