Learning to walk on a collar and leash is the basis of all further training for every puppy. Until the puppy has learned to accept the collar and leash, it will be impossible to perform any additional training.
The first step toward getting the puppy to accept the collar and leash is to find a collar that fits the dog properly. It is important that the collar be neither too light nor too heavy, neither too thin nor too thick. A collar that is too light for the dog can be easily broken, while a collar that is too heavy may be uncomfortable for the puppy to wear. It is also important that the width of the color be appropriate for the size of the dog.
Determining the proper length of the collar is relatively easy. Simply wrap a tape measure or a string lightly around the dog’s neck to get an accurate measurement. It is important that the tape measure not be tight, just slightly snug.
Most collars are sized in two-inch increments, so you may have to round up to get a properly sized collar. For instance, if the dog has a 13″ neck, you would buy a 14″ collar, and so on.
After you have purchased the perfect collar, the next step is to put it on the dog and allow him to wear it around the house. Do not be dismayed if the dog whines, paws at the collar, or otherwise tries to remove it. This is normal, and the dog should not be punished for it. It is best to simply ignore the dog and allow him to work out his own issues with the collar.
The dog should be allowed to wear the collar 24 hours a day for a number of days to get used to the feel of the collar on his neck. After the dog is accepting the collar well, it is time to start introducing the leash. A lightweight leash works best for this process. Simply attach the leash to the dog’s collar and allow him to walk around the house with it. The dog should, of course, be supervised during this process in order to make sure he does not get the leash caught on anything. Getting the leash caught or snagged could frighten the dog and create a leash phobia that will be hard to overcome.
In the beginning, the leash should only be attached for a few minutes at a time. It is important to attach the leash at happy times, such as playtime, mealtime, etc. It is important for the dog to associate the leash with happy things. When the leash is not attached to the dog, it is a good idea to keep it near the dog’s food and water bowls. The dog should be encouraged to investigate the leash, and to discover that it is not something to fear.
After the dog is used to walking around with the leash attached, take the end of the leash in your hand and just hold it. Allow the dog to walk around. If the dog bumps into the end of the leash, just allow the dog to react and move as he desires. The goal of this exercise is to simply allow the dog to get used to the feel of the collar and the leash.
It is important to allow the puppy plenty of time to get used to wearing the collar and leash before ever attempting to lead the puppy. It is best to perform this exercise in the home or other environment where the puppy feels safe and secure. After the puppy is comfortable and content walking on the leash in the home, it can slowly be taken outside. It is best to make these outside trips very short at the beginning and to lengthen them slowly over time. Some puppies take to the collar and leash immediately, while others may require some additional time.