Leash Training Made Easy

 Wednesday May 09,2018
By  Lancaster Puppies

Leash training your puppy is important for a dog’s safety as well as those around it. Dogs dart across highways, roam around unfenced properties, and chase animals. 

Many states have laws stating you’re liable for the damage that occurs when your dog is out of your control. Several states have laws that prohibit dogs from roaming, wandering around at sunset, or allowing a female dog in heat to be off a leash. In these instances, a dog may be seized, impounded, or restrained by law enforcement officers or ordinary citizens. Owners can be fined. Review Michigan State University’s “Table of State Dog Leash Laws” to see how these laws apply to your state.  

As a dog owner, you must curb these bad habits before they get out of control.

The best way to do this is to begin introducing your puppy to a collar or harness and leash as early as 8 weeks old. Then work on leash training.

Pick the Most Appropriate Collar for Your Puppy

Be sure to pick a safe and appropriate collar for your puppy. Martingales, pinch collars, and rolled or flat collars are common options. Each needs properly fitted. When you put it on the dog, make sure to reward him. He’ll learn to view the collar as a good thing.

Brown puppy on walk

Flat Collars

Flat collars have a buckle or quick-release plastic clip that holds the collar around the dog’s neck. They’re made of various materials like nylon webbing or leather. 

Many owners affix their rabies tags, license tags, and the dog’s ID to the D ring. It is placed over the dog’s head and clipped at the neck. You should be able to fit at least two fingers in between the collar and the puppy’s neck.

Pinch and Prong Collars

Pinch collars or prong collars are an aversive training tool made of chains with metal prongs inside. It is designed to distribute even pressure and give a quick pinch. These collars are used to correct a dog’s behavior by causing pain or discomfort when the dog’s neck pushes against the prongs. Advocates say it mimics a mother dog’s teeth on a pup’s neck; critics say it’s inhumane and causes unnecessary harm.


Martingales offer more control over your dog than a flat collar but are less aversive than pinch collars. A Martingale fits loosely on a dog’s neck. It has two loops that come together when the dog pulls. Once the dog stops pulling, the Martingale releases. They’re great for dogs that slip other collars and work well on dolichocephalic dogs like Airedale Terriers and Doberman Pinschers

Choke Chains

Choke chains are metal-linked collars with two loops at the end. The collar is placed over the dog’s head to make a shape that looks like the letter P if the dog is walking on the left side. The chain will resemble the number 9 if the dog walks on the right side. The leash is attached to the live ring. When the dog tugs, the chain becomes tighter. 

When a choke chain is placed on the dog correctly, the chain will drop loosely again. If it is placed incorrectly, the chain will not release.

These collars put pressure on a dog’s spinal column, jugular vein, thyroid, esophagus, trachea, and lymph nodes as well as increase the dog’s eye pressure. 

Aversive trainers use this tool to correct the dog’s behavior by giving a quick choke to the dog. It is ill-advised to use choke chains on dogs with small tracheas such as English Bulldogs, Pugs, and Chihuahuas. They may do better with a harness.

Collar Alternatives

Body harnesses are useful tools that can reduce pulling. They come in various styles including back-clip harnesses, front-clip harnesses, and tightening harnesses.

Tan curly-coat puppy wearing a red harness and leash

Back Clip Harnesses

Back clip harnesses aren’t designed to address behavior issues. They’re not useful in curbing pulling, jumping, or aggression. Rather they’re designed for the dog’s comfort and wrap around the dog’s neck, chest, and under the belly. 

Front Clip Harnesses

Front clip harnesses attach at the center of the dog’s chest. These are designed to make a dog not pull on a leash as hard. It gives the handler more control. It’s a good choice if getting a dog to walk on a leash is challenging. 

Tightening Harnesses

Tightening harnesses become more snug and press against a dog’s body when it pulls. These harnesses are easy to put on a dog. 

Leash Options

You’ll find leashes with various lengths, widths, and styles like standard dog leashes, retractable ones, adjustable leashes, and chains:

  • Chain leashes. Chain leashes are a great option for dogs that tend to chew. Many of these leashes are industrial welded and are durable. 
  • Adjustable leashes. Adjustable leashes allow you to release or shorten straps so that you determine the leash’s length. 
  • Retractable leashes. Retractable leashes allow your dog to walk anywhere from about 4 feet to 30 feet. They automatically extend and retract based on where the dog is walking and will have tension on it all the time.  
  • Standard leashes. Standard dog leashes usually come in Nylon or leather. They’re both durable but dogs have been known to chew through them. Leather leashes will wear down over time and feel comfortable on your hand.  Consider attaching the leash to the dog’s collar and allowing the puppy to walk around the house supervised so he gets used to the weight of the tools.

Use Positive Reinforcement for Leash Training

Puppies can begin working on leash training between three months and six months. Some people are tempted not to leash train their dogs because the puppy often stays close to the owner. The puppy still needs to be trained and will need to be vaccinated.

Black and gray fluffy puppy on a walk wearing a leash and red bandana

When you first clip your puppy on the leash, don’t be surprised if the puppy bites it and continues to do so for the first few weeks. To get the puppy to stop nipping, lure it with a treat. The puppy will likely drop the leash to go for the cookie.

Start by walking around an open space in your house. Walk a few steps ahead of the dog. When the puppy follows, reward him liberally to motivate him. The goal is to reinforce the behavior you want.

If the puppy ignores you, increase your enthusiasm and reward him liberally when he follows you. 

Once you are comfortable training inside, take the same idea outside. Start with a training walk. Reward the puppy for paying attention to you while he’s on the leash. Ignore all other behaviors. Walk in different directions; when the dog follows and pays attention, reward him. Lightly tug the leash if the dog ignores you and then reward when the puppy follows. 

As your puppy grows, you may notice your puppy is walking ahead of you. Pick up the pace when you’re walking alongside your dog or you can stop when the dog pulls and give a gentle tug and go the other way. 

Leash Training Tips

Please note that if you have a herding or retrieving dog like a German Shepherd, Border Collie, or Labrador Retriever you may be tempted to think the walk will calm your puppy down. These dogs are often high-energy pets. Consider playing a game of fetch or let your puppy run around before training. They need to burn off energy to focus.

Show Me the Puppies!