If you’ve ever had a dog, you know there are some that adapt a little more quickly to things like potty training and playing fetch, and others that need a little extra love and attention before they get it right. Introducing new things—whether it be food, toys, a new pet friend—can be intimidating for your pup. One new thing many dogs have trouble adapting to is walking on a leash. Let’s go over some tips and tricks for introducing the leash into your puppy’s life.
A Harness is Better Than a Collar
The verdict is in, and most professional trainers say that you should absolutely teach your dog to wear a harness for walking or running together. Collars are great for identity purposes, but your dog should have a proper harness when they leave the house on a leash. It may be forgein to them at first but over time, your dog should adapt to the harness just fine. Start early, and get them in the harness as often as possible.
Take A Test Run
When starting out, your dogs may have an aversion to the site of the harness. If they simply don’t like the sight of it, try putting a treat on or near the harness and allow them to sniff the new object. Once you have the dog more comfortable with the sight of their new dog harness, you can attempt to put it on them for short periods of time around the house. Get your pup comfortable walking around your home with the harness and the leash and make sure the fit is comfortable—no pulling or tugging under the arm, around the neck, or into the chest.
Leash Time = Adventure Time
An easy way to teach your dog to enjoy the harness is by getting excited about putting it on. Once the dog begins to associate going outside or for a car ride with the harness and leash, they’ll be even more excited to get it on and get out into the world. If they don’t automatically make the association, teach them cues, the same way you’d teach that the word “treat” means a treat is coming, or “paw” means to give you a little handshake. Many people use the word “outside” and once the dog realizes the leash and harness are part of that experience, you’ll have a much easier time.
Find the Right Fit
Look for harnesses that offer a front and back clip. Your dog’s natural center of gravity is much lower, so this will help balance him out if they are trying to pull. It will make it a lot harder for your dog to “walk you” as well. Some dogs are quite happy just walking right along with their owner, but some dogs may have a harder time reacting to other animals or people along your walk, so be prepared with a well-fitting harness and a strong leash in case they see a squirrel and decide to go running.
Don’t Force It
One of the worst things to do is to traumatize your dog by forcing the harness over their head and tugging them out the door. Patience is key when training a dog to do anything, and tugging them and pulling them during leash time will only make them adverse to the experience. A little time and care will go a long way, and before you know it, your dog will be excited to go on daily walks with you!