Train Your Puppy to Walk on a Leash

One of the first challenges faced by most dog owners is how to potty train our new puppy. The second big challenge is how to leash train our hyper young dog, without incurring any bodily injury whenever a squirrel decides to dash up a tree.

Even though walking a dog is often portrayed as a Zen moment that is both peaceful and enjoyable, the reality of the situation is often not quite so perfect. In fact, leash training a puppy is probably one of the more challenging aspects of dog training.

When our puppy is out on a walk, he is exposed to a lot of new stimuli, including new sights, sounds, and smells. Everything will be very exciting, even leaves flying in the wind and he will want to chase, smell, and see all of it at top speed. That is part of the joy of spending time with a puppy; sharing the excitement, joy, and wonder of youth.

However, all that excited energy can also cause crazy pulling, barking, jumping on people, and sometimes aggression. Here, we consider some of the key leash training ingredients that will help make dog walking into a fun, relaxing, and enjoyable experience.

Putting on a Collar

In the beginning, a puppy will be unfamiliar with collars and leashes. He may get apprehensive about having something new around his neck, and the weight of the leash may feel strange. My Shiba Inu was very sensitive to wearing collars during puppyhood. When we tried to put one on him on the first day, he tried to bite us, as well as the breeder’s husband.

From the puppy’s point of view, having some unknown person put a strange object on a vulnerable part of his body must seem extremely dangerous.

One of the best ways to start the leash training experience right, is to slowly desensitize our puppy to the collar. Help him learn that the collar is a positive thing that gets put on before a fun outing. Here is how I desensitized my dog to wearing a collar –

  • First, I get some food that my dog really likes. Then I ask him for a Sit, show him the collar and reward.
  • I keep repeating this until he gets comfortable and is looking forward to seeing the collar.
  • Next, I briefly touch my puppy with the collar and treat him for staying calm. I repeat until he is comfortable with this new step.
  • Then, I drape the collar on his neck and reward. I repeat until he is relaxed and comfortable.
  • I continue doing a little more each time so that the collar becomes more and more familiar, in a positive way.
  • If I observe any kind of stress from my dog, I back off, and go back to the previous step. This ensures that collar training sessions are always fun and rewarding.

Note that the snap sound made when fastening a collar can sometimes startle a dog. A useful added step, is to have some snap sessions. First I snap the collar without it being on my dog’s neck, treat, and so on. Later, when I snap the collar around his neck, he will already be comfortable with the sound.

In the collar desensitization process, make sure to always go slowly and not overtax our puppy. Remember that the main idea is to get our dog comfortable with the collar and help him associate it with something positive. Do not force the collar on because he will start to associate it with a negative experience, and will likely fight us every time he sees the collar.

Putting on a Leash

Some dogs may also be uncomfortable with the feel and weight of a leash. When I first got my puppy, I would fasten a light leash onto his collar, let him move around, and play with the leash on. While using a drag-lead –

  • I make sure I am around to supervise.
  • I use a flat collar and *not* an aversive collar. An aversive collar such as a choke chain or a prong collar can cause physical harm to a dog when not properly used. They should not be used with a drag lead or when a dog is off-leash.
  • I ensure that the leash does not get caught on any furniture or fixtures.

When my puppy is comfortable with the light leash, I may play with him and occasionally pick up the lead during play. This will help him to associate being linked to me through the leash, as something fun and positive. Next, I use a heavier leash and so on.

In general, I start small, pair the leash and collar with positive experiences, and very slowly increase the challenge one step at a time.

Dog Walking Speed

Most dogs, especially larger dogs, will naturally walk faster than we do. In leash training, we want to get our dogs to reduce their natural walking speed so that their much slower two-legged companions can keep up.

An effective way to get a dog to slow down is to teach him the following –

The fastest way to get to where he wants to go, is by slowing down and walking with us.

When my dog starts to pull, and the leash gets taut, I non-mark (Ack, Ack) and stop walking. Initially, my puppy continued to pull and even tried to pull harder to get forward. However, I just calmly ignored him and stood still.

As soon as he stops pulling, I start moving forward. In this way, he learns the following lesson –

  • Pull = We stop moving,
  • Don’t Pull = Get to go where he wants to go.

For this method to work, it is important to be very consistent with our starts and stops. I do not let my dog pull sometimes, but not at other times. This will encourage our dog to pull even more because the next pull may cause us to give in and to move forward. I always make sure to stop as soon as the leash gets taut, and start again once the leash is loose.

In the beginning, I had to stop very often and did not get very far from my front door. But I kept at it and made sure that I consistently stopped every time there was any pulling. My puppy quickly learned that it is in his best interest to slow down and walk with me because if he does, he gets more freedom, he gets to choose his favorite smell spots, and he also gets to stop to smell the roses.

As with everything else, I set my dog up for success by starting small and taking things one step at a time. Initially, I would practice leash training inside the house. The house environment is more familiar to a puppy, it is safe, and low stimulus. In this way, we can both focus on walking together at a measured pace, without pulling.

Once he is comfortable with walking on-leash inside the house, then we move to the backyard and practice there. Each successful session will help to build his confidence, as well as teach him to associate leash training with being calm and having a fun outing.

Here is a list of other leash training methods, together with their pros and cons.

I do not walk my puppy in the neighborhood until after he has had all of his vaccination shots.

Young puppies are especially vulnerable when out on walks because they want to explore everything and still have developing immune systems. Therefore, they can easily pick up germs and parasites from contaminated water or poop from other dogs and wild animals.

I do early dog socialization by going to puppy class or puppy play sessions in daycare centers. I make sure that both places check for health and vaccination records, and are clean, well-run, and well supervised.

Leash Training – Greeting People & Dogs

Another challenging part of leash training is what to do when our puppy gets over-excited because he sees new people, new dogs, or a squirrel running up a tree. How excited a dog gets and how much he pulls will depend on the dog’s temperament and prey drive.

Dogs with high prey drive will frequently go rear-brain when they spot any nearby prey, especially if the prey is moving. Once this occurs, the dog starts reacting based on instinct, and is no longer able to listen to commands, or redirect onto food or toys. At this point, I can only move my dog away to a more quiet area, where he can calm down.

Therefore, the key is to be vigilant and take action *before* our dog switches to instinct mode. If we catch things early enough, we can teach our dog to stay calm and to use the right behaviors while greeting people and other dogs.

Remember that distance is our friend. 

My Siberian Husky gets very excited when people give her any kind of attention, including just eye contact. Usually I just cross the street and move on. When this is not possible, I move into a driveway and engage her in doing simple commands. This creates space between my Sibe and the passing people and ensures that she does not invade other people’s space unless invited to.

Some other steps I take to deal with meeting people and other dogs –

  1. Slowly desensitize my puppy to people and other dogs.
  2. Be vigilant and engage my dog in alternate activities (e.g. obedience exercises) before he gets over-excited and goes read-brain,
  3. Always be calm and decisive, so that my dog learns to be calm and look to me for direction.

Leash Training Supplies


When people think of dog walking supplies, they usually think about the collar and lead. My favorite collar is the no-slip Premier martingale collar, which I use together with a nice leather leash.

Leather leashes may be a bit more expensive but they are easy on the hands, durable, and are secure even under heavy pulling. Make sure the metal clasp on the leash is high quality and well-built. Most nylon leashes I have gotten tend to have small clasps that break open whenever there is any serious pulling.

In addition to collar and leash, here are some other important leash training supplies

  • I make sure to bring enough water. A dog water bottle is great because it contains a bottle of water as well as a fitted bowl for easy drinking.
  • I bring some treats or rewards with me so that I can practice obedience exercises during walks.
  • I always have several poop bags available and scoop up after my dog. Leaving poop on the sidewalk and on other people’s lawns dirties the neighborhood, makes walking unpleasant, encourages dog poop eating, as well as gets people angry at all dogs and dog owners. Ultimately, it may even lower property prices. Therefore, it pays to take care of our neighborhood by picking up after our dog.

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Comments

  1. Jacquie says

    Hi, shibashake!

    Thank you for all the all the invaluable advice and support I have got on your site ever since I started researching the ideal puppy for me and then learning more about my choice. Thanks for telling me about positive training and so much information on dogs, puppies and, of course, humans. I couldn’t have made it so far without your help.
    I now have an adorable nine months-old Shiba, Benji. He is all I dreamed of and rather more. I enrolled us in a training class as soon as I could, when Benji was 12 weeks old and we have continued ever since. (I need all the help I can use, as a first-time dog-owner and Shiba-owner.) Mostly, training has worked well considering. I make mistakes, I correct them and we gradually progress.
    But one thing that seems not to work out or even progress is getting Benji to walk with a loose leash. Whatever I have tried, nothing works.
    I tried stopping when Benji pulls. He would pull regardless, then sit, while whining all the time. When we could walk on, then he pulled some more, ad infinitam. Every time we went out (we live in an appartment, so it was really often, at the beginning), relentlessly. A new trainer eventually put us on the 180-degree system (since the beginning of December). Benji is quite happy to turn as often as I want, but he just keeps pulling just the same. Or he pulls in a completely other direction. For a while he even refused treats until I started varying them more frequently. And he doesnt whine this way.
    Lately, the trainer has introduced 2 commands, “Go on!”, when he can pull all he wants and “Slowly!”, when he is supposed to walk by me, sort of. Mostly it is “Go on” with two or three “Slowly” lessons over a 40 minute walk. After 30 seconds up to 90 seconds and a lot of treats, he’s fed up.
    Note that in the appartment, he walks beautifully for me and even heels perfectly if he gets enough treats, so it’s not a question of not understanding. He just doesn’t care, once we are on the street. Anything is more interesting than walking with me.
    Have you seen a case of a dog/puppy refusing ever to walk on a loose leash, even with training and a lot of consistence? Or is it just a case of waiting until one day, in the far future, Benji decides that all walks are a little boring?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jacquie,

      Does he pull in response to something – e.g. another dog, a cat, people, noise? Or does he pull as soon as he is out the door? What is his daily routine like? Is he good about following house rules? Do you practice door manners before you leave?

      With my Shiba, I have found that practicing door manners is very helpful. In this way, I ensure that he is in a somewhat calm state before we leave the house. It also gets him used to following commands and listening to me before we leave. During initial training, I practice walking him in the house first, then we do door manners, and we only leave when he is calm and willing to listen. This gets him into a good state of mind.

      At the start, we go for shorter but more frequent walks. I only go to more quiet areas, so that the environmental challenge is not too great and Sephy can control his excitement. I am more strict with him at the start of the walk, and I slowly give him more freedom for good behavior. Being closer to home also means that I can quickly end the walk if need be.

      I try to set Sephy up for success as much as I can. The more successful walks we have, the more confident we both become, and the more “the walk” becomes part of his routine.

      With my Shiba, it was about finding the right motivator to get him to stop certain behaviors. Sephy is naturally very stubborn, and he will try to do whatever he wants if he can. For example, during walks, he learned that he could start leash biting. Initially, I did not have a good way of stopping the behavior, so he just did whatever he wanted. I tried lots and lots of different things, and finally found that the best way to deal with this is to march him quickly home. In this way, he learned that if he leash bites, the really awesome walk ends. Since he really values his walks, he stopped biting on the leash.

      I have found that ending the walk is a very effective consequence for all my dogs, and I also use it to stop poop eating behavior. Eating poop and leash biting are two absolute no-nos and will result in an instant march home. With pulling, it depends.

      If a cat suddenly jumps out of nowhere, and that gets my dog over-excited, I really can’t blame him. It is a very unexpected thing, and their instinct is naturally to give chase. Squirrels running around also get them excited. I try to desensitize them as much as I can to exciting outside stimulus, so that they learn to stay calm and to control their impulses in the presence of other dogs, cats, squirrels, etc.

      In general, my strategy is always to set everything up to maximize success. However, if necessary, I will end the walk if my dog is unwilling to walk properly. In this way, my dogs learn that if they cannot follow walk rules, then the walk ends.

    • Jacquie says

      Thanks a lot for your thoughtful reply of the 12th.
      Benji is moderately respectful of the house rules, unless he thinks I can’t see him or he has not been played with enough or both.
      He waits for the front door of the flat. He struggles to wait for the elevator. Lots of treats are required. Then he lunges out of the elevator like a train, to the downstairs hall and the corridor past the cellars to the street door; at least if I don’t stop him by doing many 180-turns. I insist of those and the “slowly” command plus treats because many of the other residents are a bit unsteady on their legs, careful of their stockings or just afraid of dogs generally. Eventually, we get there… But he’s not getting better with time!
      What gets his attention? Absolutely everything – clumps of vegetation, lampposts, trees, corners of gateposts, parking meters of course, but almost all of them; other dogs, even on the other side of street and far away, cars, trucks, pedestrians, children, birds, planes, barges on the river, workers unloading their gear, stationary bikes and motorcycles, you name it… He has a severe case of ADHD, and that’s just in our familiar neighbourhood. Anywhere else, like puppy class or the dog park and he’s unbearable. Thankfully, cats, rabbits and squirrels are in short supply and he doesn’t try to chase cyclists, I expect because he is always on a leash. Thankfully too, he is not particularly fearful, rather the contrary. But he is always alert and and compulsive about sniffing up new things.
      He generally demand his ball sooner or later, and will chase it sporadically but just has to check up on a molehill or a piece of paper or whatever and forgets it until he realises that I might capture it if he’s not careful (excellent memory). He’s
      much, much too busy for a game of Fetch.
      On your advice, I have up the number of walks and shorten their time. I have also enforced more discipline at the doors and elevator. But so far I have not seen any evidence that Benji is bothered when I take him back home if he doesn’t comply with my rules for walks, and believe me, I have tried many times in the past. As to shortening the leash, he seems not to care, until I have it almost to the harness, and then he throws a tantrum. I try that too.
      Thank you again for all your time and your advice. I ‘ll keep watching shibashake, of course, and when Benji shows any progress, I’ll post you again.

  2. Colin says

    Hi, I have been loving your website, the resources you have provided have been so coherently organized and user friendly! I have just purchased a Shiba Inu boy from a breeder, and am trying to get as knowledgeable as I can before he is ready to come home in a couple weeks.

    I am pretty familiar with larger dogs, but I am finding myself at a loss in this area. Forgive me if this answer has already been addressed – I tried skimming through comments but it seems that there are many other people as big of fans as myself! For Shibas, as puppies and as adults, do you recommend a collar or a harness for walking? I see you have recommended a particular collar, but some of your photos have your Shiba in a harness. If you like harnesses, what styles/brands would you recommend, and as far as training purposes, what has served you best in the past?

    Thanks again for your time and dedication to this site. I am sure I will stopping by frequently when my pup has finally made his way to his new home!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Colin,

      Congratulations on your upcoming Shiba puppy!

      I started my Shiba on a harness. We first got a no-pull harness (which has the leash fastening on the front of the dog instead of at the back). The problem with no-pull harnesses is that they are more difficult to put on. We got the Premier harness, which required some handling of Sephy, and he did not like that. Since I did not really notice a big difference in terms of pulling, we decided to try out a regular harness.

      We tried out several regular harnesses, but ultimately the process of putting on a harness became a big battle, and Sephy didn’t like having extra material on his body. He really is not a “wearing stuff” kindda dog. During puppy class, he went nuts when we tried to put a bandanna on him as part of a training exercise.

      Ultimately, we switched to a no-slip collar which worked out best for everyone. The problem with collars, however, it that if the dog pulls, it can place stress on the throat and neck, which can cause choking. Shibas have a short trachea, so constant force on the neck is best avoided if possible. This is why most people recommend using a harness.

      If I got a new Shiba puppy, I would most probably start with a harness and make sure to slowly and properly desensitize puppy to it in a positive way. We did not do that with Sephy, and used force instead, which likely contributed to his sensitivity to harnesses and handling.

      Here is a bit more on harnesses, collars, and other leash training equipment.

    • Colin says

      Thanks for the advice! I will look into the harnesses to start him off! And the desensitizing thread is very useful, I’ll be sure to try your technique out.

  3. Kat says

    Hi Shibashake,
    Thanks for the advice – I live in a flat/apartment so I don’t have a backyard unfortunately. I do have a balcony though, so I am going to try and walk him back and forth on that.
    There’s also a small courtyard that I use for walks and we just go round in circles a few times. That’s basically where the big distractions are – gravel, bark, leaves…etc etc…
    How long did it take you to train your puppies to walk well with you? Or at least well enough for you to go on an “outside” walk with no major traumas?!
    Did your puppies whine a lot when you first tried walking them on a leash?
    thanks

    • shibashake says

      How long did it take you to train your puppies to walk well with you?

      It depends a lot on the puppy. My Shiba Inu, Sephy, was very reactive to other dogs, and he was also very stubborn, so it took many months to get him more comfortable around other dogs, and also to get him to stop with his leash biting. Part of the problem was also with me – I started with aversive methods and that made his behavior worse. So we had to do some retraining and earn back his trust.

      However, I started walking him outside pretty much as soon as he was vaccinated. In the beginning though, I took him to more quiet areas for our walk, so that we would have a positive and successful experience. In outside walks, he got to explore new areas, see some people, some other dogs, and more. We also did puppy classes where he got to socialize in a positive and structured way with other puppies.

      The key I found, is to start small, supervise, and control the environment, so that I do not to expose Sephy to situations that he cannot handle and will lose control. But it was also necessary to properly socialize him so that he does not become fearful of people, other dogs, and new experiences.

      Did your puppies whine a lot when you first tried walking them on a leash?

      Lara is the only one who is more vocal. She vocalizes when she gets over-excited, so I manage her excitement level and use desensitization exercises to raise her tolerance threshold. Some dogs are just more vocal than others. I learned that the key to retraining, is not to feel embarrassed with Lara’s behavior, but to observe it carefully, identify the source of the behavior, and help her learn alternate behaviors for dealing with her excitement.

  4. Kat says

    Hi!
    Your blog has some great info and it’s nice to hear first hand experiences from someone rather than just “do this and do this and your dog will be perfect”…haha…
    I have a small 14 week old Chihuahua x jack russel puppy and I am having problems walking him. I know that everything is new and exciting for him at the moment so he stops and sniff or run in every direction apart from the one we are going in!
    I tried the aversion technique and that did not work at all – that night he became quite aggressive and I thought it must be me not doing it right…thank god I found your blog about how you tried it, discovered it didn’t work and tried something else otherwise I would have just continued thinking there was no other way! So…now I am trying the stop start, 180, reward training…but so far…not much luck.

    My problem is not that he pulls forward or runs faster than me…it is that I want to go forward and he will always want to go in the opposite direction. If I just stop, he starts eating everything he can on the floor around him (including stones!) – if I start moving away, he refuses to come therefore the leash becomes taut and feels like it’s being “pulled”. If he doesn’t stop to eat things, then he is constantly pulling in the opposite direction to me – I tried the 180 trick but it didn’t seem to work either…..any tips??!!
    (both on the walk and getting him to stop eating stones and bark!)
    PS: I have tried taking treats with me, but he just runs to eat the treat then will immediately stop and start eating things from the floor or will move in another direction. Once he’s eaten the treat he just ignores me!
    Thanks for any help you can give!

    • shibashake says

      Congratulations on your new puppy!

      In the beginning, I do least training inside the house or in the backyard. This is a more low stimulus area, so I can focus on getting my dog used to the collar and leash, and getting him used to walking with me. Once we are comfortable with walking in the backyard, then I *very slowly* increase the environmental challenge.

      I only walk my dog in the neighborhood *after* he is fully vaccinated. Puppies still have developing immune systems and can get very sick from drinking contaminated water, eating contaminated roadside stuff, or bad poop from other dogs or animals.

      I start by walking my dog on a shorter leash (I use a 6 foot leather leash so that I can easily change the length of the leash during walks). This gives me more control and I can stop my dog from eating poop, rocks, and other dangerous things. Eating rocks can be very dangerous because it can obstruct a dog’s digestive tract. I also teach my dog the “Leave-It” command.

      When I stop, I make sure to bring my dog in next to me. I do not let him explore and smell when we stop, because I want him to learn that –
      Pulling = Less freedom and don’t get to go where he wants to go,
      No pulling = Get to explore, smell, and go where he wants.

      Dogs learn from us mostly through a process called conditioning. They repeat behaviors that get them good results, and stop behaviors that get them bad results. To stop my dog from pulling, I want to arrange things so that “Not pulling” is very rewarding, and “Pulling” is not rewarding at all.

      I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs.

      We also got help from several professional trainers with our Shiba Inu. A good professional trainer can help a lot with timing and technique, as well as with learning how to read our dog.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      Big hugs to your puppy!

  5. benisan85745 says

    Howzit @Shibashake…as a Shiba Inu owner myself, I am sorry you had difficulty withe whole leash ordeal and training him. Now either I was completely blessed with an extreme oddity for a dog, or she simply listened and obeyed from day one. However, she is far from perfect as I wrote a small piece on my Nani as my very first Hub when I joined a couple of days ago. I am still trying to figure out why she goes into these funky mood swings?! I at times just chalk it up to “girls perogative” and let her be. I understand the cat quality Shiba’s possess, and they are very self efficient in caring for themselves, but she can be moody. If you have any advice on “training” being deaf ear, i would appreciate that very much.

    • shibashake says

      Haha, yeah Sephy has mood swings as well. I think it is one of those special and endearing Shiba qualities. When Sephy is in one of his “black moods”, he doesn’t want to be bothered by anyone – human or canine. He is a quirky little guy. :D
      As for turning a deaf ear, that is another Shiba favorite. One comment that I got from a Shiba owner says it very well –
      “Shibas have a very singular state of mind”
      http://shibashake.com/dog/why-are-shiba-inus-one-o
      Hugs to Nani and welcome to HubPages!

  6. Evan says

    Hi, I have a 9 week old husky pup and she is having some trouble walking. She does not pull much but she freezes and won’t move further away from our house. If we take her away she will walk all the way home. Is there any way to curb her fear of walking away from the house?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Evan,
      With my Sibe puppy, I started leash training her first in the backyard. In this way, she gets accustomed to walking on-leash in a safe and quiet environment. In addition, it is important not to expose our puppy to other animals (including other dogs), and not to expose her to poop from other animals, until she is fully vaccinated.
      Once my puppy is comfortable with this, I start to walk her in more quiet areas around the house, or I drive her to a quite place to walk, and so on.

      In general, I start small, set her up for success, and slowly help her build confidence.

      I also desensitized her to loud scary noises, e.g. garbage truck noise, while we are home.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/how-to-calm-a-fearful-reactive-dog#noise

  7. Hannah says

    hello..i have 3 chihuahuas..all of which are very different in personalities.
    The third one a boy, and is 7 months old. I take them all for walks together and the two older girls are great off the lead. They both come back to me. I have gotten the youngest used to the lead. However, when i let him off he doesn’t run away as such but he does not listen to me whatsoever. He will just follow one of my girl dogs that he is friends with. When i call his name he does not look at me, flinch, move his ears, nothing. He will run right past me without even acknowledging me. The will only follow my other chihuahua, which is probably the only reason I haven’t lost him. How can i rectify this, as i do get quite worried as he is the smallest and would prefer if he listened to me even a little bit. Thanks

    • shibashake says

      Hello Hannah,
      I usually start recall training with my dogs in the backyard where it is more quiet and there are fewer distractions. I start by playing with puppy, then I run away and call to puppy. When she comes, I praise her well, and reward her with another fun play session.
      Once I get consistent recall in the backyard, then I move to a quiet enclosed field, and so on. When I start in an unenclosed area, I first use a long-lead so that it is safe.
      Here is a very complete list of recall training techniques from the ASPCA-
      http://aspcabehavior.org/articles/84/Teaching-Your

  8. Jamie says

    I have a 2 yr old great dane/lab mix. He is about 120 lbs. He pulls very bad on a leash and when he wants to run he overpowers me and I usually go to the ground. Recently, I was hurt pretty bad. How can I keep him from doing that. I have tried treats and once he starts to pull and I correct him, he tries harder to pull next time. I would really like some advice because I really would like to take him places and enjoy him.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jamie,
      With my dogs, I started leash training in my backyard first, where there are few distractions. Then I moved on to quiet areas in the neighborhood, or walked really early in the morning when there are few people about. During leash training, it helps to start small, and then very slowly increase the level of distraction.
      For large dogs that pull, some people use the head-halti to prevent pulling. Here are some of my experiences with the head-halti-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/walking-with-a-3-legged-
      Incorrect use of the head-halti may cause damage to the dog, therefore it is important to follow all the instructions carefully. I only use the head-halti with a regular 6-foot leash and *not* a flexi-leash.
      Here are some leash training techniques I used on my dogs-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/leash-training-your-dog

  9. Tabitha says

    Hi, I have a 7 month old Great Dane that weighs about 80 pound. When I take him for walks and he meets people that I stop to talk to, he gets very excited and rushes towards them and starts jumping and shoving himself against them. Not really actually jumping on them but he hops into them, and most people want to pet him because he’s very friendly but it is stressful trying to calm him for the first 5 mins, I try to make him sit which he’s usually very good at but its no good when he’s too excited. If there’s anything I can do different, I don’t want to avoid people because I would like for him to be able to calming sit there. Thanks.

  10. Kaleigh Andrews says

    I have a 3 month old shiba inu puppy, his name is Akuma, he’s having a little bit of trouble grasping the “come” command and he gets really spastic excited and jumps away playfully instead of coming to the treat in my hand. He also gets extremely terrified when a leash is put on, he would walk for a little while then freak out and try to pull out of his collar. how do I get him to be comfortable with the leash and how long could this take with him walking around with it on, before I can pick up the leash and try to walk with him? Thank you for your time in reading this and look forward to hearing from you soon.
    Sincerely,
    Kaleigh Andrews

    • shibashake says

      Hello Kaleigh Andrews,
      Congratulations on your new Shiba puppy!

      “he gets really spastic excited and jumps away playfully instead of coming to the treat in my hand”

      Haha, yeah Sephy was like that as well. He still is like that sometimes. When Sephy was a puppy, the thing he wanted to do most was play, especially chasing games. Therefore instead of rewarding him with food, I would often reward him with a fun game.
      Here are some of the games that I play with my dogs-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-play-fun-games-to-pl

      “how long could this take with him walking around with it on, before I can pick up the leash and try to walk with him?”

      That is probably very dependent on the individual dog. It took several weeks for Sephy to get comfortable with the “putting on collar” ritual. He didn’t really have any issues with the lead.
      In general, I try to go slow, so that Sephy can be successful and the experience is positive.
      Some things that may help-
      1. If puppy is working on interactive food toys, he may be distracted from the lead and focus on the toys instead. This will also help puppy associate having the lead on with something positive.
      2. Playing a fun game can also help to distract puppy, and make the experience positive.
      I only use the drag-lead with a flat collar, and I cut off the loop on the lead so that it does not catch on anything. I only use the drag-lead when I am around to supervise.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/puppy-obedience-training#draglead

  11. Hanna says

    hello, I have a staffy that was given to me at 2 years old. I dont think his old owners walked him much as he pulls alot and when I try your method we dont get very far from the front door. Its good that I have patience for him but Im wondering if I get a head muzzle lead thingy and do the “pulling gets you nowhere” method do you think it will work, Thanks for any advice you do give me and Im looking forward to seeing you comment.

    • shibashake says

      “if I get a head muzzle lead thingy and do the “pulling gets you nowhere” method do you think it will work”

      I have tried the head-halti on my Siberian Husky and it is very effective at preventing pulling, especially for larger, powerful dogs. I used it initially when we went hiking at the park because there are usually many interesting things around and Shania would go a bit nuts wanting to get to everything at top speed.
      However, Shania really did not like wearing the head halti. In particular, she did not like the straps on her face, which I imagine, could be somewhat chafing.
      The thing with the head halti is that once Shania was not wearing it, she started to pull again. Therefore, I only used the head halti for high stimulus outings at the park. Otherwise, I continued with regular leash training – first shorter sessions, then I slowly lengthened the time as Shania performed better. For us, the head-halti was useful as a temporary measure to help Shania get enough exercise at the park.
      Use of the head-halti will depend to some extent on the dog. Some dogs are more tolerant of it, while others are less so. Also, it is important to fit the head-halti properly, and to only use it with a regular 6 foot leash (~not~ a flexi-leash). Improper use can cause damage to the dog.
      In terms of ~training~ the dog not to pull, it did not really do that in my experience. As soon as I took off the head-halti, and used a regular collar, Shania would start to pull again. It prevented pulling because it redirects the dog’s head, but with Shania, it did not retrain the behavior.
      Hugs to your Staffy. Let us know how it goes.

  12. Suhail and my dog says

    I just wanted to let you know that I keep revisiting your hub as now I am beginning to take my 10 months old Kuvasz boy deeper and deeper into the wilderness surrounding my suburban home. Your hub is very helpful indeed :-)
    I have one question. He never used to be aggressive even though other dogs bullied him. If he is off leash in a dog park, he avoids confrontation no matter how aggressive the other dog(s) are. But when he is on leash and I am holding it near me, he responds in kind with such a furiousness that his big size really scares other people, although I tend to think he is bluffing. Why is it that his behaviour changes with leash on?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Suhail,
      Dogs may sometimes get aggressive on-leash because-
      1. They are prevented from getting to another dog, squirrel, etc. and therefore get frustrated.
      2. They feel trapped and unable to move away from a perceived threat. As a result, they may feel they have no choice but to use aggression.
      My three legged dog Shania is wary of other dogs because she feels more vulnerable. Usually we stay away from other dogs during walks. Sometimes, Shania will want to meet a calm and well-behaved dog. In these cases, I give her a lot of space (i.e., I don’t crowd her), and we move away after a short greeting so that she does not get overwhelmed.
      We only meet dogs that are under good control, and whom Shania wants to meet.
      Here is a bit more on my experiences with dog-to-dog reactivity –
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-to-dog-aggression

  13. JasNaz says

    Hi,
    I have new Havanese puppy 10 weeks old. We dont take him out much because he gets cold and doesnt have all vaccines yet. The vet says we need to get him used to the leash so we can begin walking him outside and have him otty trained utside during walks rather than on the wewe pad at home. Our last dog was a german shepard, who loved outside even as a puppy.
    But our new puppy the one or two times we took him outside just sat there and wouldnt look at me. I tried to coax him with treats to play a little but he would not move (usually he runs to me the moment i say come or treat. And when I put the leash on him in the house to get him used to it, he just sits there and wont move. He wont come for a treat or ball or anything. Is he too young for leash or for outside? The Vet says we can take him outside but just not around other dogs. But he seems o afraid outdoors so ill stand for a long time and then give up and bring him back in. I then try to atleast have him get used to the leash for when he is less afraid to be outside, but even indoors he does the same thing and just sits there. What should i do?

    • shibashake says

      Hello JasNaz,
      With my puppy Lara I started by first getting her used to the leash. I use a flat collar (not an aversive collar) and leave a drag lead on her so that she can get used to the weight and feel of wearing a leash. I make sure to cut the loop on the leash so that it doesn’t get caught on anything.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/puppy-obedience-training
      Then I just let puppy be for a while and figure things out on her own. I am still there to supervise but am not directly interacting with puppy. I only leave a drag-lead on puppy when I am home to supervise.
      After she is comfortable with that, I did leash training in the backyard first.
      Congratulations on your new puppy. Let us know how it goes.

  14. marie says

    My husky is 6 months old and no matter what i try she just keeps pulling it is really starting to get to me because i got her for my daughter but she cannot walk her as it knocks her over. she is a great dog other wise and learned everything else so quickly but i just cant seem to manage this.
    Marie :(

  15. Jan says

    Hi, I recently got a 3 month old Golden Retriever pup. I have already desensitized him to the collar and he is comfortable wearing it. I have also let him drag the leash around at home to make him comfortable with it. He doesn’t seem to mind it at all, but when I take him up to the terrace to teach him how to walk on a leash (I live in an apartment and I want him to learn this first before I take him outside for walk) all he wants to do is stiff around and eat dirt. I can barely get him to look up whenever we are out! This is my first time raising a dog. Please help :)
    Thanks!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jan,
      Congratulations on your new puppy! Golden Retrievers are very beautiful dogs.
      As for the sniffing, my puppy did that as well when I first started walking her outside (only do this after puppy is fully vaccinated). I let her sniff as much as she wants, as long as she does not pull to get to a sniffing spot. If she pulls, I just stop and stand still or turn around and walk in the opposite direction.
      Also, I have noticed that once my puppy got accustomed and familiar with an area, then she is less hyper about exploration. It is only when things are really new that her attention is totally captured.
      Here is more on my experiences with leash training-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/leash-training-your-dog
      Big hugs to your puppy!

  16. zoe says

    We’ve recently got a 8 month old male staffy x. He’s a lovely dog with a lovely temper. The only problem is he weighs about 19kg and is very pulley on the lead. He also lays down whenever he sees another dog A.d refuses to move on till the dog has passed.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Zoe,
      Here are a few other ways to deal with leash pulling –
      http://shibashake.com/dog/leash-training-your-dog
      “He also lays down whenever he sees another dog A.d refuses to move on till the dog has passed.”
      Yeah my Siberian Husky Shania is like that as well. I think she wants to make sure that the other dog is not a threat to her.
      Doing desensitization exercises has helped Shania some with this.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-to-dog-aggression#de
      The article deals more with dog-to-dog aggression, but desensitization also works with non-aggressive dogs, like my Sibe Shania, who is just concerned about her own safety.

  17. Katrina says

    Hi, I was wondering if it’s to late to train my dog. She’s a Elkhound and she’s 4 years old. Right now we live on a farm so she gets to roam free. But in 3 weeks we will be moving close to town and it looks like i’m going to need to take her for walks to keep her activity up. She doesn’t mind having a collar on but she trys going her own way or she just stops and lies down or just sits there. She doesn’t look pleased at all.
    What can I do to make it more fun for both her and I?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Katrina,
      It will likely take some time for her to get used to the leash since she now has less freedom. She also may not know what is expected of her on the leash.
      My Siberian Husky, Shania, also likes to stop and lie down a lot. I think she just likes smelling the wind and seeing cars and people pass by.
      I also play the Find-It game with her when we are outside to get her interested in moving on.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/train-your-dog-to-stop-biting-on-the-leash#find-it

      Sometimes I also make the walk more interesting by doing footwork commands with her, running with her (changing speed), and letting her pick which areas she wants to explore.
      Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes. :)

  18. pippa says

    hi, I have a two year old male dalmation and I was wondering if you have any tips on how to walk/run with him on a leash or in the park? We have tried making him ‘heel’ and giving him treats if he walks next to us but he only does it occaisionally. We use a choker chain as he is incredibly strong and even with that when he sees another dog it is hard to restrain him. On top of that, our local park is an off-leash area but our dog (cooper) tries to be dominant and either jumpon, growl, play or bite almost everydog… your comments would be much appreciated as I am begginning to hate taking him out for walks

    • shibashake says

      “We use a choker chain as he is incredibly strong and even with that when he sees another dog it is hard to restrain him.”

      In general, choke chains are used to give stronger collar corrections (also called leash corrections and leash jerks).

      Very early on I used collar corrections on my Shiba Inu but it did not work out well for either of us. Here are some other leash training techniques I used with my dogs –
      http://shibashake.com/dog/leash-training-your-dog

      Head-haltis can be useful for controlling a large dog. They are a bit difficult to put on, and I had to do a fair amount of work in terms of getting my dog associate it with something positive.

      My Shiba Inu also used to be very reactive to other dogs and he also has a dominant personality. When in the company of other dogs he would get overly excited and “lose his mind”. He was also starting to learn a lot of bad habits from the other dogs at the park.

      Finally, I decided to stop taking him to enclosed dog parks. The environment there was too unstructured for him. Instead, I took him to play with single dogs at a nearby SPCA. The sessions were supervised and we also did desensitization training with other dogs to help with his reactivity.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-to-dog-aggression#desensitize

      Here is a bit more on our dog park experiences –
      http://shibashake.com/dog/enclosed-dog-parks-good-or-bad

      I also invited friendly neighborhood dogs over to have one-on-one play sessions with my Shiba. Smaller and well-supervised play groups seem to work best with him.

  19. Riley says

    Hi! Love your blog.
    I have a leash problem that I need help with.
    My 17 wk old puppy walks faster than me, and when I try to stop every time she goes ahead, she doesn’t care. She takes that opportunity to smell around her and/or stare at everything going by. She has really no desire to move forward, and is therefore completely unmotivated by the start, stop training.
    Another thing to note is that she likes to follow me around the house, but not at my heel. She guesses where I’m running to and runs ahead waiting. There’s sort of the same thing on a leash. She likes to guess where I’m heading to and go first, despite my leash training efforts.
    The final thing that makes it difficult to train her is that she’s completely unmotivated by even her favorite treats when she’s outside. Clicker training her outside is then really difficult.
    I started with basic leash training inside, then moved to a hallway without distractions. However, now that she’s outside, she doesn’t care for anything but doing her own thing.
    It sounds like I don’t take her outside and she’s therefore too bombarded with sights and sounds to listen, but I take her on a 15 min walk every day. Any tips? Should I let her explore the world first on leash before I try training? I need help.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Riley,
      Congratulations on your new puppy!

      She sounds similar to my Sibe puppy Lara. When I stop, Lara would also walk around and sniff things. What works with Lara is to shorten the lead significantly. When I stop, I bring Lara back to me and get her to Sit next to me. I shorten the lead so that she can’t go anywhere else.

      Lara usually walks nicely after that. Still, I am always adjusting lead length based on her behavior. If she is walking nicely, I give her more lead, and vice versa.

      “She guesses where I’m running to and runs ahead waiting.”

      Yeah Lara did that as well. She thinks it is a fun game. The key to this is not to reward the “running ahead behavior” with attention. Usually I will ignore Lara and just keep walking. If she is in the way, she gets displaced a bit to the side. I don’t actively push her, I just keep walking and walk right into her space.

      I make sure not to step on her but I also do not give her any eye contact or talk to her. It is no fun being ignored so she has stopped playing that “game”.

      “The final thing that makes it difficult to train her is that she’s completely unmotivated by even her favorite treats when she’s outside.”

      Yeah outside is a lot more interesting and there are a lot more distractions.
      What does puppy enjoy doing when she is outside? Also what breed is puppy? If you can identify some of the key things she is most motivated by, then you can try and use that to train her.

      Also, is puppy fully vaccinated? If not, be very careful of poop left by other animals. Puppies can get sick from sniffing or eating poop from a sick animal.
      After puppy Lara was fully vaccinated, I took her out about 3 times a day for about 15-20 minutes each time. Taking her out more frequently gave us both more leash-training practice. I kept the walks short so that I would be fresh and not overly frustrated. :)

      Once Lara learned to walk without a lot of pulling I increased the walk time and decreased frequency. Now we only go out once a day, but for about 1.5 hours. Length of walk will depend on age, breed, energy level, size, etc.

  20. Dee says

    I have a two month old blue pit and he hates to walk on a leash. He doesn’t even like to leave from around the house if I put the leash on him. I’ve tried treats, and he follows them sometimes but other times he ignores them and still doesn’t want to move. What can I do to get him used to the leash and to walk without pulling back towards home?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Dee,
      My Sibe puppy was like that when I first got her. She was afraid of loud noises so going out was somewhat stressful for her.
      Initially, I just desensitized my pup to the leash by putting it on her and letting her drag it around while we are in the house. Only do this with a flat collar (not an aversive collar) and only under supervision.
      Once my Sibe puppy was comfortable with a drag-lead I first practiced walking her in my backyard. In this way, she feels safe and she gets used to walking on a leash. Once she has gained some confidence and has gotten all of her vaccine shots, I started to walk her outside.
      At first just around the house and then we slowly worked our way to a farther and farther distance.
      Puppies are pretty vulnerable to parvo and other diseases when they are young and before they are fully vaccinated. In general, I wait until they have received all their vaccine shots before I start them on their outdoor expeditions. :)
      Congratulations on your new puppy and big hugs to him.

  21. Lizzy66 says

    Hello,
    Thank you for the great information, it gives me hope! I have a 4 year old male Shih Tzu we rescued who lunges and barks at other dogs and cats when on leash. We worked with a behaviorist who tried to have us use treats to desensitize, but he wouldn’t pay any attention to them. He does okay around other dogs when off leash, so how would you suggest we slowly desensitize him when on leash? Thanks!

  22. jasmine says

    i have a 12 week old mixed breed dog and he used to live in the country before we got him and when i take him outside to go potty he thinks he can run everywhere but he cant he will get ran over.so i put him on a leash and he went crazy and would not go potty because i was following him how do i go about trying to leash train him.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jasmine,
      Sounds like he is not used to the leash. One thing that worked well with my dogs is to first desensitize them to the leash. I describe how to desensitize a dog to a collar in the article above –
      http://shibashake.com/dog/train-your-puppy-to-walk-on-a-leash#collar-desensitize

      A similar process will work with the leash as well.
      Once my dogs are comfortable with the leash, I also clip it on and let them drag it around inside the house. This helps them get comfortable with the weight and presence of the leash. I only do this with a flat collar (*not* an aversive collar) and only under supervision.

  23. Kat says

    my two dogs are germen short hairs and one is 8 and one is 3 the 8 year old has a HUGE prob with pulling witch i well try your thing but the 3 year old likes to sniff witch is not bad to me but she also likes to play tug a war with the leash any tips?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Kat,
      In terms of playing tug with the leash (also called leash biting), I had similar issues with my Shiba Inu.
      Sounds like your dogs are playful leash biters. Some things that may help –
      1. Give the dog a job, e.g. carrying a stick or soft toy.
      2. Play the Find-It game.
      3. Make walking interesting my changing speed, direction, and doing footwork commands.
      4. Do walks in interesting locations (e.g. outdoor parks).
      Here is more on leash-biting –
      http://shibashake.com/dog/train-your-dog-to-stop-b

  24. Julie says

    Hi I have an adorable 3 1/2 month or Siberian husky whom I’m having trouble walking. On a regular leash she s and chokes herself so I’m trying he gentle leader leash. She doesn’t/ can’t pull with that but she doesn’t like it so she sits down and won’t get up at all except to try to run back to the house. I need to exercise her to get her energy out. How much should she be walking a day at her age anyway? Thank you so much!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Julie,
      My Sibe Shania is similar. I also tried the head halti, but she prefers not to walk rather than wear it. Sometimes she would walk a bit, lie down, and refuse to move. I used to put a harness on her and used that to lift her up when she does that.
      However, what has worked best for us are the start-stop and the 180 turn around techniques. When Shania pulls too much, I also put my hand on her chest to give her more balance and stop her from choking herself.
      I am also using both these techniques with my new Sibe puppy Lara (she is now about 7 months old). So far, it is going pretty well. Consistency is probably the most important thing – every time Lara pulls I stop and wait until she stops pulling. She usually sits after a while. If she pulls too much, I turn around and walk in the other direction.

      “How much should she be walking a day at her age anyway?”

      After Lara got all of her shots, I only took her on very short walks, maybe about 20 mins. However, I have 2 other dogs including another Siberian so she plays with them a lot and expends her energy that way.
      What I did with my first dog is have really short walks – 15-20 mins, but very frequent walks (about 5 times a day).
      We are now up to about a 1.5 hour daily walk. I also walk my other adult Sibe for about 1.5 hours, but longer on weekends.
      Hugs to your Sibe. They really are awesome dogs.

  25. Joanne says

    I have a 10 yr old Border Collie who was raised on a farm. We are now living in town and I would like to take him for walks. The problem is as soon as I attach hisleash he flips out and then he hides and freezes.Do you think the dragging of it when he plays ball may help with this?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Joanne,
      It would depend on how fearful he is of the lead.
      With a dog that is extremely fearful, he may not want to do anything when he has the lead on. If that is the case, then we can start by first doing desensitization exercises with the lead similar to the collar exercises I described in the article above.
      For a less fearful dog, putting on a drag lead may help. Hopefully, it will help him associate the lead with something positive that he likes to do rather than something new, restrictive, and possibly scary.
      It may also help to start with a very short, light leash, and then slowly move up from there as he gets more used to the idea of wearing a leash.
      After that, I have found the Find-It game to be very useful in helping my dogs associate walking on lead with something fun rather than something scary.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/train-your-dog-to-stop-b
      Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.

  26. Erica says

    We just recently got a new Pekegnese that is about a year and a half old. It seems like she’s never been on a leash or walked before. I love walking my other Pekegnese who is 12 years old. When we got the older one she wasn’t leash trained either and was able to learn quickly from the dog we had how to walk and what to do.
    I have been trying to take the new dog out to get her use to sounds and walking on the leash but she is so skidish and doesn’t know what to do. I want her to be able to take walks and enjoy them without being scared. Any advice?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Erica,
      My Sibe puppy is also uncertain about loud noises when we are out on walks. The garbage truck is especially a difficult one for her.
      What helped with her is to desensitize her to some of these common noises inside the house first. I downloaded some of these sounds and played it softly on my indoor stereo. During this time, I make sure to engage puppy Lara in obedience and various fun food puzzles.
      Once she gets comfortable with the soft sound, I slowly increase the level – but only very slowly so that she will always associate the sound with positive experiences.
      Another thing that helps distract puppy when we are walking outside is the Find-It game.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/train-your-dog-to-stop-b
      Using distance and walking behind barriers (e.g. parked cars) can also help when faced with a stressful stimulus.

  27. Tina says

    I have a four month old blue nose brindle pitbull. He is roughly 40lbs. He wears a harness and when I try to leash him he imediatly lays on his back and rolls. What do I do to train him to walk with the leash?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Tina,
      My Shiba Inu used to do the “alligator roll” move on me as well. He does that when he wants to stay in a certain location and does not want to move along.
      Your puppy sounds like he may not be used to the leash. One thing that helped with my Sibe puppy is to put a leash on her when she is in our fully enclosed backyard. I let her run around with the leash on so she gets used to it – its weight, smell, etc. I make sure to supervise closely so it does not get caught on anything. Then I pick it up sometimes and walk along with her.
      Another thing that is very helpful in getting my puppy comfortable with walking on leash is to play the Find-It game.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/train-your-dog-to-stop-biting-on-the-leash#find-it

  28. Sarah K. says

    Hi there!
    I just stumbled upon your blog and I love it! I had a siberian husky while living with my Mom and just got my own puppy with my fiancé. I knew he would be a puller (from previous husky experience) and have started trying the technique you describe but I’m getting frustrated and impatient…guess I need to keep at it and be consistent. Does this work well with your husky as well? How long did it take to leash train him?
    -Sarah:)

    • shibashake says

      Hello Sarah,
      Congratulations on your new Sibe puppy!

      “Does this work well with your husky as well?”

      With my Sibe, what works best is the 180 turn-around technique. I have to start doing it as soon as I leave the house and I have to be very consistent. Then after a bit she responds quite well.

      Of course when she spots a cat or a deer, then she will start pulling. :D At that point I remove her from the stimulus and start again.

      She is not awesome on the leash, but she is a lot better than what she was before. She is also a 3 legged dog, so she has a more awkward gait.
      A few weeks ago I got a new Sibe puppy, so I am starting with leash training again. The key, I think, is to do most of the training while she is young and easier to control.

      Good luck with your puppy. Share some pictures with us and let us know how it goes!

  29. Suhail and my dog says

    I liked the information and training tips, but I never knew that putting a collar can be such a difficult exercise for some dogs. That Handi-drink water bottle seems like a practical and really handy concept.

    • shibashake says

      “I never knew that putting a collar can be such a difficult exercise for some dogs.”

      Heh yeah – Shiba Sephy can be pretty difficult. A big part of it was also my fault. I made many mistakes in the beginning because I did not know what was the most effective way to deal with Sephy’s stubborn streak. :D
      The water bottle thingy is pretty awesome. I have been using it for 4 years now. The original bottle sprung a leak (at the bottle cap), but I just replaced it with a regular plastic water bottle and it works fine.
      Thanks for dropping by.

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