With proper lead training, owners can take their dogs everywhere, without risk of injury to themselves or others.
Start training your dog to walk on a leash at 8 weeks. Young puppies can be safely walked with a harness attached to a 4 to 6 foot leash. An adjustable, nylon harness is a good beginner’s item that will allow for some of your dog’s growth. Practice taking it on and off until you can do so quickly and easily. Squirming and wriggling is normal for a puppy first adjusting to a harness. Be patient, and give lots of praise once the harness is on. Your dog should always wear a collar that is tagged for easy identification. This will make the transition to collar leading smooth later on.
Have your dog wear its halter around the house without the lead attached. Gradually, start attaching the lead during feeding or when your puppy is tired. Let it hang loosely at your puppy’s side. Next, pick up the lead occasionally and follow your puppy around. Keep the leash slack, and do not pull or restrain your dog with it.
When you are ready for lead training, take your dog to a place with minimal distractions. Schedule training after a play session when your dog is somewhat tired out. Position yourself with the lead in your right hand and your dog on your left. Hold a toy in your left hand, and encourage your puppy to follow after it as you slowly move forward. Say heel when you both begin to walk. Stop after a few feet, let your dog play with the toy, and give lots of praise. Repeat several times, using the toy or a treat to guide your dog’s starts, stops, and position at your side.
If your dog becomes distracted or impatient, it may begin to pull. If you do not move forward when pulled, your dog will learn that only a slack leash lets him go forward, and brings treats and praise. When your dog stops pulling and the leash is slack, encourage him to return to you, and begin the process again. Once heel is mastered, be sure to practice with your dog in a variety of places.
If you cannot stop your dog from pulling in all directions on the lead or control lunges, seek professional training help. Only as a last resort should you consider purchasing a no pull harness or Gentle Leader. These are specially designed to make pulling uncomfortable or impossible. They may end unruly behavior, but should only be considered temporary solutions. The goal of lead training should always be to walk your dog with a regular collar and lead. The best training will teach your dog how to behave, not force it to.