Leashes are a lot like training shoes for children. In the beginning, when your children are first born, shoes serve the purpose of keeping little baby feet warm. Made out of soft, pliable material, baby shoes aren’t made for walking. More for outfit coordination and tootsie warming. Same thing for puppies. At first, a puppy doesn’t really get the whole ‘leash thing.’ A leash is more of a chew toy that is connected to you! Here’s how to select the right leash to train your puppy.
The point of a leash, or should I say, the points for having a leash is to help keep your puppy safe, and to help teach your puppy how to interact with the things s/he sees out on a walk. A leash is an extension of a puppy’s world, and should never be used to get attention by jerking or scolding a puppy. Remember when you were a teen and taking student driver’s education courses. Can you imagine if your instructor jerked you by the collar? Your response would be less than ideal.
Before we dive into the right leash for puppy training, let’s discuss how to introduce this foreign object to your puppy. Many people think that dogs are born knowing how to walk on a leash. But, using our student driver analogy, a puppy doesn’t understand the concept of a leash or how to interact with one. So, it’s our job to teach them that by putting on this strange and foreign object, good things will happen.
The first thing you want to do is allow your puppy to wear a harness and a leash. Why a harness versus a collar? Collars are great for identification, and some dogs do fine with them; however, our experience is that many dogs will pull against the gentle tug of a collar during training. A harness is more like a hug and provides a coaxing reassurance due to its snug fit. Secure your pup in the harness and a leash and give a training reward click, or special word, and some treats. Continue the harness/leash treat sessions, both inside and outside of your home, until your puppy learns to love his harness and leash at all times.
Typically, this type of harness/leash adjustment takes a week or two for your pup to understand the lesson. That will turn out to be some of the best moments you invest in your pup. As we stated earlier, a leash provides safety - and if your pup loves his leash, that means you love your pup being safe. Now, let’s chat about the right leash to train your puppy.
Long Lead Training Leash for Your Puppy
You won’t be using a long lead leash to walk your puppy, only during training sessions. These types of leashes, commonly called long-lines, come in a variety of lengths and do not automatically shorten. Also, these leashes come in very handy when training ‘recall’ with your puppy. For this type of training, you’ll most likely want a 30+ long lead leash that connects to your pup’s harness.
The usefulness of this type of leash is to give your puppy the feeling of free choice. A’ha, but you have the leash end, you say! Not really. You don’t want your puppy to feel your weight or pulling on the leash. The goal of recall training is to allow your puppy sufficient rewards to come to you when called. Now, puppies can get distracted… So, that’s why you keep an eye one the end of the long lead leash. If needed, a redirect with a call and some treats should help get your pup’s wandering attention.
To begin with, you may need to gently hold the end of your puppy’s long leash - but without tension. As you allow your pup to roam, little-by-little, eventually up to the end of his 30+ line, call his name (or a reward word) before he experiences the tug of the reaching the end of the leash. This helps to teach your dog to come back to you when called. Start off with small distances, call his name, and provide a treat reward upon his return. Take your time. Allow your pup to inquisitively learn how to come back to you without tugs at the long leash. Your puppy will learn that your calls are rewarding and come back to you when called.
Eventually, you and your pup will get to the point where you don’t have to hold on to the long lead leash and you’re just practicing recall. This is one of the safest things you can teach your dog. Recall training helps keep your pup out of trouble, and has him returning to you for kisses and even a special snack or two!
Have a question about training our puppy? Let us know - we’re here to help. Feel free to leave a comment and we’ll do our best to get you an answer.