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Barks & Mewsings

The Trupanion blog

How to Leash Train a Puppy

By: Kelli Rascoe

Puppies need guidance, patience, love when they first get to their new home. As your puppy settles in their home, they may find ways to entertain themselves. Puppy training is a beneficial way to curb everything from an unwanted behavior to crate training, potty training, and even walking on a leash. Naturally, learning how to leash train a puppy may help ensure a safer walk with your new puppy. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde to learn more about how to leash train a puppy and tips for successful leash training.

A rust-colored Retriever puppy holds a red leash in his mouth

A pet owner guide on how to leash train a puppy

Steps on how to leash train a puppy

  1. Start by letting the puppy get used to the feel of the collar. Put the collar on the puppy while at rest, or distracted with a toy or treats. Use positive reinforcement and reward the pup with pats and treats for wearing the collar.
  2. Practice walking with the puppy on the leash inside. If the puppy is reluctant to walk with you, use treats to help coax them to walk with you. Try taking a few steps at a time. Call the puppy and once the pup is walking, try taking a couple of extra steps to encourage the puppy to walk with you. Don't drag them or yank them on the leash.
  3. When the puppy is used to walking on the leash inside, take them outside. Have treats with you to encourage them to walk with you and pay attention to you. Keep initial walks short and remember to use positive reinforcement.
  4. When your puppy gets distracted, use treats or toys to get to focus on you.
  5. Reward your puppy with treats and praise for walking next to you.
  6. Gradually increase the length of your walks.

Every puppy is different, some are stubborn, while others take to walking on a leash with no problem. Consider keeping treats with you at all times and if you’re having difficulty opt to head home and enjoy pet enrichment or playtime indoors.

The benefits of leash training a puppy

There is nothing like the bond between you and your dog. And having the ability to take a nice walk with your furry friend is an important daily activity for both of you. For example, a dog walk provides mental, physical, and emotional stimulation, as well as enrichment. For your pup to get the most out of the walk, it must be a safe experience for everyone.

“Successful leash training can make walking safer, as the dog will pay attention to you and be more likely to listen,” says Wilde.

A well-behaved dog on a leash may help if you need to leave an unsafe environment. You want your puppy to be able to focus.

A tan and brown tag stands on the sidewalk wearing a pink leash

Tips for successful leash training

So you have your new leash and collar and you’re ready to start training. Wilde breaks down some essential tips for successful leash training below:

  • Be patient. Leash training can take time.
  • Keep sessions short.
  • Don’t ever yank or jerk the leash.
  • Different dogs have different needs. There are lots of options to make walking more pleasurable for both you and your pup. Consider a harness or a gentle leader to help guide your pet outside.
  • Use positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is more effective than negative reinforcement and can help build the bond between you and your new pup.
  • Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a trainer. Reputable trainers can make the process much easier if you are encountering any difficulties, or if you just aren’t certain you are doing the right things. Ask your veterinarian what trainers in the area they recommend.
  • Stay away from retractable leashes, as they can be quite dangerous.

Training your puppy to walk on a leash can take time. Just as it’s a new skill for them, it may be for the entire family. For more tips on leash walking, click here.

Learning how to leash train a puppy may help the entire family

Leash training a puppy takes time, effort, and patience. But with that effort, you’re solidifying your bond with your new furry family member and that is priceless. The family dynamic is becoming stronger as you all work together and walk together.

To discover more on socializing your puppy, read The Ultimate Puppy Socialization Checklist for New Puppy Owners.

A dog and cat snuggle

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We’re the official blog of Trupanion—chosen by veterinarians as the #1 pet insurance in America. Here you’ll find useful dog and cat care tips, interesting veterinary insights, and fun pet topics galore.

While you’re browsing our pet blog, please note that the views expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Trupanion. Our articles are reviewed by veterinarians for accuracy, but they are not a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Always consult with your own pet’s veterinarian for advice.

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