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Leash Training for your Labrador Retriever Puppy

One of the most rewarding experiences a dog owner can have is walking with their dog.† All too often, a lack of proper leash training makes walking your dog a stressful or even dangerous proposition.† The goal of this article is to explain how to properly train your Labrador puppy to be safe and obedient on leash.


Labrador Walking and Heeling on a LeashBefore you can teach your puppy to walk on a leash, you must all him to get used to wearing a collar.† I suggest putting a collar on him two or three days before your first walk.†† Expect your puppy to scratch at the collar or even whine in protest when you first put it on him. †It is important to keep the collar on him until he stops protesting.† If you remove the collar because he is whining or scratching at it then you are just reinforcing the idea that the collar is a bad thing.† Once the puppy seems comfortable with the collar or acts like he forgotten it is even on, you can remove it.† If you are crating your puppy it is important to remove always the collar before placing the puppy in the crate.† This will protect him against getting choked if the collar becomes snagged on the crate.

 

 


After getting your puppy used to the collar for a few days, the next step is to desensitize him to the leash.† One of the best ways to do this is to attach the leash to the collar inside the house and let the puppy drag it around while supervising him.† Once the puppy seems familiar with the leash you can pick up the leash and begin to walk with him inside the house.† I know it may seem odd to walk your dog in a house with a leash on, but walking him indoors will reduce distractions and increase the likelihood of his success.† Whether walking indoors or outdoors, it is important to reinforce the behavior you want and discourage the behavior you donít want.† Here are some possible behaviors you can experience while training your puppy to walk on a leash:


If your puppy tries to pull ahead:† This is probably the most common problem with improperly leash trained dogs.† Correcting this behavior in puppies is much easier than correcting it in older dogs.† It is important to never keep walking if your dog begins to pull on the leash.† There are two techniques you can use to correct this behavior.†


The first is to ďbecome a treeĒ.† If your puppy starts to pull on the leash immediately stop and donít move until he relaxes on the leash.† Donít call him back to you or bribe him with a treat.† Just stand still and be patient until he gives up and relaxes.† It may take a while but he will eventually relax.† As soon as he relaxes begin walking again.


The second method is to quickly turn around and walk the other way.† This makes you unpredictable and causes the puppy to focus on you more.† By turning around 180 degrees and walking in the opposite direction the puppy who was just pulling 2 feet ahead of you is now 2 feet behind you.† You may only get 4-5 steps before he is pulling again, but just repeat the turn around.† Eventually your puppy will learn that pulling on the leash gets him nowhere Ė quite literally.


If your puppy decides he wants to become a tree:† Really young puppies are more prone to this than older puppies.† Often they will just splay out and refuse to move.† This is one time treats can come in handy.† If your puppy doesnít want to walk on the leash nothing will incentivize him like a bit of cheese or hot dog.† If your puppy knows you have treats he will be far more likely to follow you.† Donít call your puppy to you and then give him a treat.† Simply face the way you want him to go and set the treat right next to your foot.† He will walk right up to your side and take the treat.† This is the location you want the dog to be in while walking.† Providing treats at the walking position will teach him that good things happen to puppies that walk right next to their owners. †Stop periodically and set a treat right next to you to keep him interested.† This of course also rewards him for staying in the right spot.


If your puppy bites the leash:† This is fairly common as well.† If the puppy is biting the leash you can take some of the slack out and hold the leash straight up.† Don't yank the leash or hold it taut - just take enough slack out so the leash is pointing up from his collar. Never pull back on the leash to keep it out of his mouth Ė always straight up.†


When your puppy is walking next to you with the leash slack:† This is our goal.† Some puppies will get it the first day, others will take longer.† The important thing to remember is to reward your puppy when he is doing what you want him to do.† This can be in the form of verbal praise or a small treat set next to your foot periodically.† Donít worry too much about having to give your puppy treats to keep him walking well in the future.† Once your puppy gets a little older, the walk itself will be enough of a reward.


Once your puppy seems to understand the proper behavior on the leash it is important to continue to give him a lot of practice.† Take him out several times a day for short sessions.† Remember to always reward him for good walking and never let him get away with bad behavior.