Whether you're bringing home a new puppy or have just adopted an adult dog, your new pet may need to be introduced to a leash. For some dogs, it may be as simple as snapping on the leash and heading out the door. Other dogs, however, may struggle and appear fearful when you first introduce the leash.
The following tips can help you to introduce a struggling puppy or dog to the leash:
Start in an Enclosed Area
Rather than clipping on the dog's leash and heading out the door, give your dog time to get used to his leash. Start off indoors or in a fenced -in yard. Clip the leash on your dog's collar and let him go. Allow him to drag the leash around behind him and get used to having it attached to his collar.
Don't Let Him Chew
Many dogs view the leash as just another toy. Don't let your dog get into the habit of chewing on the leash. Keep some of his favorite toys on hand to distract him. Try throwing a ball for a game of fetch. This will get him used to the feel of the leash, but keep him from treating it like one of his toys. If you just can't seem to distract him from chewing on the leash, you may want to try putting an aversive, such as Bitter Apple, on it.
Pick Up the Leash
Once your dog is comfortable having the leash attached to his collar, it's time for you to pick up the leash. Stay in the enclosed area, and simply hold the leash. You can call your dog to you, and give him some treats while you hold the leash. This isn't a lesson in walking on the leash, simply a way to get your dog used to having you hold the other end of the leash. If the dog or puppy is pulling or struggling on the end of the leash, let it go and try again in a few minutes.
Don't Give Leash Corrections
It's important to remember that these exercises are meant to make your dog or puppy comfortable with the leash. Never pull on the leash to correct your dog's behavior. If your dog is pulling on the leash, you can drop it or you can use toys or treats to try to distract him.
Since walking on a leash is an essential skill for a dog, it's important that your dog becomes comfortable on the leash as quickly as possible. Practice as often as possible for 5 to 10 minutes each time.
Work on Loose Leash Walking
As soon as your dog is comfortable with having you hold the other end of his leash, you're ready to teach him to walk on a loose leash. It's important that you start this as soon as your dog's comfort level allows, so he doesn't get into the habit of pulling on the end of his leash.
Edited by Jenna Stregowski, RVT