You will soon be approaching the time after their 2nd vaccinations where you can take them out on walks for the first time. This is very exciting and something we all look forward to and your puppy will be equally excited to take in all the sights and smells of the neighbourhood.
There is no fast fix to teaching your puppy to walk nicely on a lead, it takes time and patience and consistency but is SO worth it so you can enjoy many years of happy relaxed walks together.
Progressing Out and About
- don’t set your aim too high of where you want to go.
- to begin with it is helpful to separate “lead training” from off lead runs so do lots of practice around your local area on the lead several times a day and drive to some handy local fields so the excitement of coming off lead doesn’t spoil all the “lead practice” you are doing.
- Begin by practicing going in and out of your front door, up and down the drive and getting used to traffic passing, sights and smells.
- Progress to going up and down the street changing directions lots so you are not just trying to get from A to B.
Tips for Walking on a Lead
- the higher distraction the higher the value of the treats needs to be i.e. chicken, cheese, ham, hotdogs are a MUST as going out and about for the first time is full of distractions and new smells.
- don’t try and go too far (a few hundred meters or a block of houses is quite enough for one session in the first few weeks).
- don’t meander along following your dog, be confident when you set off and lead like you want your puppy to follow.
- lots of praise in your voice when he looks at you, comes in towards you and stays with you.
- don’t bribe with the treats but be generous in your rewards when he is getting the hang of it.
- discourage them from stoping to sniff at everything.
- if there is a nice grassy bit, give a longer length of lead and a cue such as “go on then” if you want to let them have a sniff and be clear when you are setting off walking again.
Be Aware of the Surroundings
- notice anything new that passes such as a car or bike, pedestrians passing, any new noises and take time to stop and give lots of positive reinforcement with treats to encourage calm behaviour.
- When other people pass by with or without dogs it is helpful to ask your puppy to sit and keep him focused on you with the treats whilst they pass by. This teaches them early on not to lunge or pull towards any one walking past.
- If anyone wants to fuss the puppy that’s great but keep your puppy focused on the treat throughout and remember to not encourage any jumping up in the same way you would at home by turning away with no interaction.
Progress at the speed of your dog and gradually increase the distance of your walk as they can stay focused for longer.
What if my Puppy is too distracted to Walk to Heel?
- aslong as you have put the ground work in at home you will get there with it but it takes time and practice. make sure your treats are high value enough (cheese is a favourite of Alberts).
- take a step back into quieter less distracting areas and build up more gradually.
- remember to keep practicing at home too walking to heel on and off the lead to help cement the heel command.
- it takes lots of practice so don’t give up.
- there are some instances your puppy will find impossible to walk to heel in the early stages i.e. perhaps arriving at the field or when in the company of other dogs or doing the school run surrounded but families and noisy children.
- a training aid such as a headcollar can come in very useful for high distraction occasions when your puppy finds it hard to focus or you are in a hurry to get somewhere and not fully focused on “lead training”. See the following lessons on how you can introduce the headcollar. This prevents all your hard work being undone.