Help My Puppy Won’t Walk on Leash

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thanks dreams time for the photo

thanks dreams time for the photo

I get this problem or question, if you will, quite frequently.

I take for granted the knowledge that I have accumulated from over 20 years of dog training.

And, I forget that something that seems so simple and usually don’t last for long can really devastate the owner of a new puppy or a small dog (big dogs don’t seem to suffer from this particular problem very often).

The new owner straps on a collar and clicks on a leash only to witness a puppy/dog who bucks, kicks, squeals, screams, or just remains motionless waiting for the horror to pass…

Does That Sound About Right?

The puppy, who has lived his whole life being able to basically go wherever he wants do whatever he desires then suddenly restraint.

Imagine if someone put shackles on you… you’d probably fight it for a bit, until you realized you weren’t about to die.

I can’t imagine all of my freedoms suddenly taken away.

What would you do?

Sure, some puppies never break stride with it, but others are truly horrified.

The Problem

Thanks Pet MD

Thanks Pet MD

We as humans think puppies are born with collars and leashes on, and come from the womb knowing how to act and behave on one.

The truth is THEY ARE NOT!!

And, most breeders don’t put the puppies on leashes (although a few put collars on them).

Do you have children?

You know how most kids go through a stage when they like to run naked, when they can figure out how to get all of their clothes off?

Puppies don’t have the mental facilities to know WHAT and WHY you would put such things on them!

So How Do You Help?

You approach this SLOWLY!

For most people, the puppy is pretty new and fairly small… so there is not any time constraint for getting this done.

Did you Know:

That until your puppy is fully vaccinated (about 16 weeks) it isn’t safe to walk him around your neighborhood or really anywhere that you can’t control sanitation?   Puppies have weaker immune systems and can pick up disease easily.

Parvo virus (which is a disease that can kill puppies and non-vaccinated adults for more click here can live in the soil for 7 months.  SEVEN MONTHS!!

So don’t be in a rush to get him out in public or take him for a walk in the neighborhood!

Go Slow

First, start by putting his collar on for short periods.

I get started clicker training my puppies right away for more on that click here   and why I use a clicker click here.   Seriously you should consider using a tool that will help you train your new dog!

So I would click and treat as I put the collar on and then click and jackpot as my puppy acclimated to it with no scratching or fit throwing!

This makes the collar fun and you reaching for his neck to grab or put a collar on fun (this will come in handy later if you need to reach down and grab your dog!)

Once your puppy can enjoy his collar get him used to his leash!

MYTH:  You Must Take Your Puppy Outside to Leash Train

Thanks Love to Know for the Photo

Thanks Love to Know for the Photo

Leash training but acclimating to the leash and the beginning of eye contact and focus  and heel  should start INSIDE where distractions are less and the environment is most familiar.

So click that leash on your puppy and let him drag it around.

I recommend starting in a safe environment (not near stairs or sharp objects) in case he bucks or tries to run from the leash.

Now click and reward with a treat.

Let him drag it around for a few days, which means click it on and then watch him as he drags it for several minutes, and do this at least 5 times a day.

Next, pick up the handle end and apply the slightest of pressure against your dog and his collar.

Think “barely notice” not “decapitate” as you pick up the leash.

Now click and jackpot.

Do this at least a dozen time a day.

After this, your pup/dog should be ready to go outside on his leash.

Let him wander (basically) wherever he wants provided it is not dangerous and let him know that the leash is nothing to fear.

Do this a half dozen or more times per day until he is excitedly awaiting his leash and wandering around normally outside.

Before You Know It

Before you know it, your puppy will be pulling you like wildfire around your yard, and you’ll be back here looking up articles on leash manners  and heel!

Want to learn more about “Leash Manners” Training your Dog?

Check out our class, where we show you how you can teach your dog to have impeccable leash manners, even if right now, he’s out of control, always jumping on you during walks, or biting and tugging on the leash..

Click here to learn this “Leash Manners” training process

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There are 17 Comments

  1. Lee says:

    Hi Minette, I never had a problem with my puppy he took to the lead straight away day I got him. I followed the directions and did not take him onto the streets until he was 16 weeks old, after his last vaccination. Yes had a few leash pulling problems and have worked on them every since. He needs to be corrected for the first 1/2 block before he gets it.

    However he started to lunge after other dogs to play with them. Over the last 12 months he has now got to the stage he becomes aggressive as he can not get to the other dog. this will start up to 1/2 block away, once he sees the other dog. I have tried to turn him away, get his focus, distract him – but his focus is so strong even a fluffy toy (his bestest bribe)will not turn his head. I try to walk him away, however usually down the next corner or block is another dog. I now make excuses not to go out.
    he goes to day care once a week and dog classes once a week and loves being off leash to play, however in recent weeks he is getting very vocal and starting to nail other dogs to the ground.
    frustrated owner of a just 2 yo Spoodle, Lee

    [Reply]

    Gloria Reply:

    I have a big German Sheppard that would do the same thing. All training goes out the window when he sees another dog. He has knocked me down and dragged me to reach them. I am using a holt harness and can now take home out. He hates it and tries to pull/rub it off but at least now I can control him.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    why not teach him eye contact and focus?

    [Reply]

    Gloria Reply:

    Mack knows all the basic commands and will watch me at home. When he sees another dog, all focus is gone and he is uncontrollable. I might be able to work with him on the harness. He is close to 100lbs so until I feel confident he will listen I can’t take the chance he will run to other dog. People do not take kindly when he comes charging up to them.

    Minette Reply:

    Use a gentle leader and until you have proofed the behavior around distractions you don’t have a real reliable behavior. Go back to square one with your eye contact and extend the time then add distractions and slowly dogs….

    It’s not easy but eye contact and focus is the best way to solve a number of problems

  2. Jeannie says:

    I have both small and large dogs and haven’t had much difficulty with this – or maybe I just never acknowledged there was a difficulty. I put harnesses on small dogs because of the risk of tracheal collapse, collars on big dogs, give treats and pets and all kinds of enthusiasm and everyone seems fine. Sometimes it does take a minute. I start with the collars and harnesses, add in the leashes, leash train inside the house (attached to my belt, with lots of treats) and it all seems to work out. I’ve had dogs who really benefited from using a face harness but I don’t quite like them. Seems to subdue a bit too much, although one vet said Vizslas should be born with a gentle leader on…

    [Reply]

  3. Tammy stidham says:

    What do you do when a puppy has been walking fine on a leash for several months and all of a sudden they don’t want to walk where you want them to go

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Motivate and teach http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/finding-dogs-motivator/

    [Reply]

  4. Betty Huntington says:

    I ordered a book from you last year. I was billed but I received nothing. I had no phone number to speak with anyone. It’s been so very long now I don’t remember what it was for now. I would like a response please. Thank you, B. J.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I’m guessing it was my trick training book and I know a lot of those were downloadable. Anyway, I am not in charge of accounts or technical issues, I just do the training.

    email info@thedogtrainingsecret.com and Dana will help you figure it out 😀

    [Reply]

  5. Kristen Ramsey says:

    I have a bulldog, who I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to harness-train for several months now. Whenever we put the harness on her, she freezes or lies down like she’s been shot. And doesn’t move. At all. Ever. We’ve tried waiting her out, coaxing her with treats and enthusiastic encouragement. Nothing. Any ideas?

    [Reply]

  6. Dharni says:

    Hi,

    We just got our first pet; a 6-week old labrador. The day we got him, he played with us happily, however, the next day all he wanted to do was lay down on his bed and maybe chew a few of his toys. When we put a collar on him, he scratches at it and then just lay down again. We let him smell the leash (which he didn’t bother to) before putting it on him. He wouldn’t budge. Thoughts? Please help! Is it because he’s very young and missing his family, or because he hasn’t adjusted? Should we be giving him more time to get accustomed to his new house before attempting to walk him on a leash?

    [Reply]

  7. Lucy says:

    Hi,

    I have a 4 month old Shi-Tzu and she refuses to walk on the lead. We have tried what we feel seems like everything but she just won’t budge. Even treats don’t work.

    She will walk by our sides around our estate if we do go out on the walk, but I don’t want to risk going on the main roads or to the park just in case something happens.

    What can you suggest?

    Thank you..

    Lucy xo

    [Reply]

  8. Jill says:

    I have 2 dasxhunds who are 2 and have never been leash trained. They get scared when I put a collar on them. They just sit and refuse to walk on leash. Is it too late to train them?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    never too late

    [Reply]

  9. My daughter just returned home after living on her own for a few years. She has brought with her a one year old red heeler. We have a six year old bull mastiff that is very laid back. The two dogs seem to get a long pretty well. The major problem I am having is trying to walk her. She pulls hard and my arms are so sore afterwards that I hate walking her. We have tried a harness (that she wriggles out of), a traditional collar and a choke collar. I have never had a dog that has given me so much trouble with their walking manners. Maybe it’s partly because she is a little older than I have had to train in the past? Help, where do I start? I don’t want to have to ask my daughter to re-home her.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would get a gentle leader

    [Reply]

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