Tuesday, March 19, 2019

How to Train Your Dog to Walk on a Leash

San Francisco, Golden Gate Park

Whether you're bringing home a new puppy or you have just adopted an adult dog, your new pet may need to be introduced to a leash. For some dogs, it may be as simple as snapping on the leash and heading out the door. Other dogs may struggle and appear fearful when you first show them the leash. For these pups, you'll want to introduce them to the leash slowly and do it in a positive way so they get used to this object that will be a big part of their lives.

Start in an Enclosed Area

Rather than clipping on the dog's leash and heading out the door, give your dog time to get used to its leash. Start off indoors or in a fenced-in yard. Let your dog smell the leash then clip it on your dog's collar and let it go. Allow the dog to drag the leash around behind it and get used to having it attached to its collar.

Don't Allow Chewing

In the beginning, many dogs view the leash as just another toy. Don't let your dog get into the habit of chewing on the leash. Keep some of its favorite toys on hand to distract the pup instead. For instance, you can try throwing a ball for a game of fetch. This will get the dog used to the feel of the leash, but keep them from treating it like a chew toy.
If you just can't seem to distract your dog from chewing on the leash, you may want to try putting an aversive on it. Grannick's Bitter Apple is a popular spray that many people use to deter unwanted chewing.

Pick up the Leash

Once your dog is comfortable having the leash attached to its collar, it's time for you to pick up the leash. Stay in the enclosed area, and simply hold the leash. You can call your dog to you, and give it some treats while you hold the leash.
This isn't a lesson in walking on the leash, it is simply a way to get your dog used to you holding the other end of the leash. If the dog is pulling or struggling on the end of the leash, let it go and try again in a few minutes.

Don't Give Leash Corrections

It's important to remember that these exercises are meant to make your dog or puppy comfortable with the leash. Never pull on the leash to correct your dog's behavior. If your dog is pulling on the leash, you can drop it or you can try to use toys or treats as distractions.

Practice Often

Since walking on a leash is an essential skill for a dog, it's important that your dog becomes comfortable on ​the leash as quickly as possible. Practice as often as possible for about 10 minutes each time.

Work on Loose Leash Walking

As soon as your dog is comfortable with having you hold the other end of its leash, you're ready to teach it to walk on a loose leash. It's important that you start this as soon as your dog's comfort level allows. You don't want it to get into the habit of pulling on the end of the leash.

Problems and Proofing Behavior

If you haven't introduced your puppy to its collar yet, make sure it's comfortable with that before moving onto the leash. The same rules apply to the collar when it comes to preventing it from becoming a chew toy. Correct your puppy with a simple "no" and offer a distraction whenever you notice it start to chew on the collar. They will quickly become used to it.
During your training, be sure to maintain a positive attitude around your dog. Ideally, you want them to get excited whenever they see the leash. Over time, it will become associated with fun adventures like going for a walk or car ride, so establishing this happy connection early is important.
Positive reinforcement is going to help your puppy accept the leash far faster than punishment. Be sure to have plenty of treats on hand and reward any good behaviors with lots of praise.

How to Train a Labrador Retriever

A young woman holding her yellow Labrador in her arms.

Labrador retrievers regularly top the list of most popular dog breeds. These smart, social dogs are known for their amiable temperaments and their patience. Traditionally bred as hunting dogs, Labs also are among the most popular service dogs, acting as guide dogs for blind people and as therapy dogs.
By socializing these dogs early, you can tap into their natural instincts as protectors and companions.

Puppy Socialization

Labs are natural born people pleasers. Introduce your Lab puppy to as many new people and places as possible during the early months of its life. Keep each new meeting and experience positive and upbeat. Doing this will reinforce your Lab's natural tendency to be friendly and accepting of everyone.
If you have young children in the home, be sure to socialize them to the animal as well as the reverse. Although Labs are patient and tolerant, they may still nip at a child who teases or hurts them during play. Make sure everyone knows the boundaries and rules.

Exercise Every Day

Labrador retrievers are high energy dogs, which is part of the reason they are such great pets for active families. But if Labs aren't given sufficient exercise, they can quickly become bored. This often leads to destructive behavior and other common behavior problems, such as barking, chewing, and digging. It's also why Labs are not well-suited for apartment living; they're too big and too active.
Plan on giving your Lab an hour or more of exercise each day. Most Labs love long walks or a game of fetch. These are the perfect way to burn off your Lab's energy.

Start a Basic Obedience Program

Most Labs really love to learn. Take advantage of their innate trainability by starting an obedience program as soon as you bring your Labrador retriever home. You can work on basic obedience commands on your own, or sign up for a dog obedience class with a local dog trainer. Classes are a great way to train your Lab while socializing at the same time.
Since Labs get to be fairly large and have a tendency to pull on the leash, make walking on a loose leash your first priority. You should also teach your Lab to "come," "drop it," and "fetch," so you can take advantage of its natural tendency for retrieving.

Use Positive Reinforcement Training

Their eagerness to learn, playfulness, affectionate natures and their love of treats make Labrador retrievers fantastic candidates for positive reinforcement dog training. Reward their good behaviors with a small treat, a game, or some cuddle time with you. You'll find your Lab is soon offering you the behaviors you like with little prompting.
If you decide to use treats in your training, remember that Labs have a tendency to become overweight. Use the smallest treats possible to reward behavior, and be sure to reduce the amount of food you're giving at meal times or increase exercise to compensate for the treats.

Plan on a Long Adolescence

One of the most endearing qualities of Labrador retrievers is that they remain very puppy-like long after they've reached adulthood. The downside is that their energy level and tendency to get into mischief continues well into adulthood as well. Therefore, it pays to have behavior management tools handy. Some management tools to keep in mind:
  • Crate train your Labrador so it doesn't have the run of the house when you're not there to supervise
  • Provide your Lab with a variety of interesting toys and chews to keep it from getting bored.
  • Continue practicing basic obedience commands; it reinforces your Lab's training and provides mental stimulation.

Consider Advanced Training

Many Labrador retrievers are happiest and the most well-behaved when they have a job to do. Consider getting involved with a dog sport or training your Lab as a service animal or pet therapy dog.
The training to become a service animal will vary depending on what the dog will be doing; some are trained to be animal companions to sick children and adults in the hospital, others are trained to serve as seeing-eye dogs. Others may provide assistance to people with mental illnesses, or behavioral problems.
Check the requirements for licensing and training where you live; some places have more strict rules and requirements for service dogs than others.
No matter what its job is, keeping your Lab busy and active is sure to keep one of those famous Lab smiles on its face.

10 Tips to Help You Train Your Puppy

  • 01of 10


    Puppies Playing In The Park, Outdoors
    BLOOM image/Getty Images
    Socializing is just what it sounds like. It's about getting your puppy out and about to experience new people, places, and situations. Puppies that are well socialized tend to become more well-adjusted adults. Many of the most common behavior problems we see in dogs, such as aggression, fear, and excessive barking, can stem from a lack of proper early socialization.
    It's important to get your puppy used to a variety of people, animals, and places. In addition, is essential that your puppy is accustomed to being handled in different ways.
  • 02of 10

    House Training

    Most new puppy owners put housebreaking high on their list of priorities. After all, it's frustrating when your dog pees in the house. Get your puppy off to a good start by putting him on a schedule. If he is eating at regular times and being taken outside frequently, you will be well on your way to house training the new puppy.
    Keep in mind that punishment, such as scolding or rubbing a pup's nose in his mess, does not usually have the desired effect. A better method of housebreaking a puppy is to reward him with praise, treats, and playtime when he relieves himself in the right spot. A crate can also be a helpful housebreaking tool.
  • 03of 10

    Crate Training

    A crate is used to confine a puppy when you are unable to supervise him. If your puppy is given enough time to become comfortable in his crate, it may become one of his favorite spots. Crates allow you to prevent your puppy from developing bad habits, like inappropriate chewing or soiling.
    Crates are also good tools for housebreaking. Most dogs will not relieve themselves in the same place that they sleep. If your dog is crated when he isn't outside with you or under your supervision in your house, chances are he will never develop the habit of going potty indoors.
  • 04of 10


    A puppy shouldn't be kept in his crate for more than a few hours at a time. Even when you are home to supervise him, however, he shouldn't have the run of the house right away. There are too many things in a house for a puppy to chew on, hide under, or get harmed by. Confining him to a kitchen or another small room with a door or baby gate can go a long way in preventing your puppy from developing bad habits.
    Remember, a puppy who gets the opportunity to do something he finds enjoyable, such as gnawing on your furniture, is more likely to repeat the behavior. Confinement keeps him from getting these opportunities.
  • 05of 10

    Prevent Destructive Chewing

    Puppies like to chew. This probably isn't news to many people, especially those with a new puppy at home. Rather than trying to prevent a puppy from chewing, it's important you teach him which things are appropriate chew toys.
    Confinement is one of the tools in your arsenal when it comes to chew-training. It allows you to prevent your puppy from having the opportunity to chew on furniture, shoes, toys, or anything else you don't want him to have.
    Redirecting him to appropriate toys is another part of chew training. It's not enough to tell your dog no when he picks up something you don't want him to have. Instead, you need to redirect him to something he can have, such as a dog chew or a Kong.
  • 06of 10

    Bite Inhibition

    Bite inhibition is an important part of puppy training. It involves teaching your puppy to use his teeth gently. Begin teaching him bite inhibition by allowing him to use his mouth when you are playing with him, but end play if he uses his teeth too hard. Once your puppy learns that the fun stops when he bites too hard, you should begin to see him using his mouth much more gently.
    Bite inhibition is important because it keeps you safe from those needle-like puppy teeth. It also helps prevent a serious bite from occurring when your puppy grows into adulthood. Should he ever feel the need to use his teeth to defend himself, teaching your puppy bite inhibition can mean the difference between a harmless nip and a serious bite.
  • 07of 10

    Positive Reinforcement

    Puppies respond well to positive reinforcement methods of training, rather than punishment. It's easy to get your puppy to repeat the behaviors you like by rewarding him with praise, treats, and games. By ignoring or redirecting your puppy when he misbehaves and rewarding the good behaviors, your puppy will soon be offering good behavior.
  • 08of 10

    Basic Obedience

    Puppies are able to start working on basic obedience as soon as you bring them home. Use positive reinforcement to start working on basic dog training commands, and soon your puppy will be able to sitlie down, and come on command. These basic commands will go a long way in helping your puppy grow into a well-behaved adult dog.
  • 09of 10

    Prevent Behavior Problems

    When you are training puppies, you have the ability to teach them good behavior before they begin to develop some of the more common behavior problems. Start off on the right foot by providing your puppy with lots of interesting toys, exercise, and training. A puppy left to find his own source of entertainment is more likely to engage in inappropriate behaviors.
    You can also use basic obedience commands to prevent common dog behavior problems. For instance, you can ask your puppy to sit rather than allowing him to jump up when you walk through the door. By teaching your puppy appropriate behaviors, you can prevent many of the most common behavior problems.
  • 10of 10

    Puppy Kindergarten

    Puppy kindergarten is the name given to dog training classes designed specifically for puppies. One of the best ways to work on all aspects of puppy training is in a puppy training class. These classes usually offer a little of everything discussed here: socialization, housebreaking, basic obedience, preventing problem behavior, and more. Best of all, it's done under the supervision of an experienced dog trainerso you have less worry about your puppy having a negative experience during training.