While an attention walk with your dog looking responsibly up at you is a great ideal, it takes time and a lot of practice. Many of us get a new puppy and think we need to start walking around the block right away. This may sound crazy to you, but wait. Walks are NOT necessary at such a young age. Play is more useful for exercise until leash skills are acquired.
First we need to teach our puppy what a leash is, let alone how to navigate with one on. We choose a square area then start taking a few steps, getting our puppy to follow us and rewarding them for doing so. Walking backwards in the beginning can help your puppy stay focused on you. Stay in this area and refrain from choosing a sidewalk, pathway or other clear path for your puppy. We want them to follow you, not the path.
The next step is to pick up the leash and start moving together. We proceed to work as a team, moving from point A to B with no care about where we end up. We only start destination walks (around the block, to the park and back) when our puppy has the skills needed to be successful. This often works out well though, because our puppy is not yet vaccinated - so we use that time to teach basic leash skills, then when they are fully immunized, we can start more formal leash training.
A leash, basic flat collar and yummy food rewards is all you need to get started. Begin in your home in a quiet room. Progress to walking in different rooms of your house. Next take it outside on a patio or driveway - free from smelly grass, tempting bark and blowing leaves if possible! You know what I’m talking about don’t you? We teach our dogs to give into the slightest amount of leash tension and review this concept often at the start of every leash training session.
I know it seems like a while before you’ll be out and about going on a walk together but trust me on this one. Put in the time in the beginning doing the small and simple things over and over again, teaching your puppy to follow you. This time pays off big time and soon enough you’ll have a dog who walks beautifully on leash.
Need help? I am teaching a LIVE Loose Leash Walking class today at 12pm Pacific/ 3 pm Eastern. Sign up for our membership today to get the link - classes are ALL included.
Amy & Team