You want to take your new puppy out for a stroll; now, all you need to do is train him to walk on a leash. Watch as Expert Pet Trainer Kathy Santo show you how to walk your new family member.
Hi, I'm Kathy Santo with IAMS, and today we're going to talk about how to leash train your puppy. Once your puppy is around eight weeks old, you can begin leash training. The first thing you'll need is a collar or harness that fits your puppy appropriately, never too lose or too tight. You should be able to fit two fingers between the collar and your puppy's neck. When deciding between using a collar or a harness, there are a few things to consider. Does your puppy have any respiratory issues? Does your puppy pull when being walked on leash? Use a harness or head halter if your puppy pulls on leash, or has respiratory problems. Before you can jump right into training, you'll need to get your puppy used to wearing a collar and having the added weight of a leash. The best thing to do is have him wear the collar or harness and leash around the house, so he becomes used to the feeling.
Be sure to keep an eye on your puppy to make sure he doesn't get trapped, caught, or accidentally injured. If your puppy is noticeably struggling, or looks scared, start off with a shoelace, or a small piece of rope, so he can get used to dragging only a little something around. This will help him get used to the added presence and weight of a collar and leash. Now for walking on a leash. The leash should have some slack, because when you put pressure on a dog, their natural reflex is to move or pull in the opposite direction. If you find that your puppy is afraid of walking with the leash, try placing treats along the route you know you'll be walking, to give him the notion that good times are ahead. That way, he learns to focus on what's ahead of him with curiosity, and not fear. As you begin walking your puppy, you will notice that your pace will sometimes have to be faster than you expect to retain slack in the leash. The more you work with your puppy, the quicker you'll be able to train him to slow down, while maintaining the needed slack. As you walk around, begin incorporating specific commands for your puppy. Basic commands include sit, stay, and heel, or let's go. Do your best to remain consistent with your commands, and guide your puppy through the learning process. For example, when you say sit, guide your puppy to sit until the command is recognized by the puppy. When you say heel, make sure your puppy is obeying your command before you start walking again. When your puppy starts to move ahead too quickly, come to a complete stop and wait for him to cease pulling before going forward. Practice his stop and go, never allowing your puppy to dictate your pace. If your puppy continues to pull on his leash, ask him to change directions, while saying "turn." This will condition your puppy to always look for you for direction, instead of him feeling like he can dictate where the two of you go next. I also like to run backward, and then switch to a different direction. This gets your puppy excited about chasing you. Remember to reward your puppy when he does the right thing, so that he begins to understand what you're asking him for. If your puppy still isn't catching on, try upgrading your treats, practicing in an area with fewer distractions, or working on more basic commands. Leash training takes time and patience. Both you and your puppy may get frustrated during the learning process. Do your best to avoid tugging. It's not fair to correct them for something they don't understand. As your dog enters adolescence, and clearly knows the difference between right and wrong, it's OK to give a slight occasional tug on his leash, if he insists on being difficult. If you remain patient and consistent with your puppy, he'll be leash trained in no time. I'm Kathy Santo with IAMS, and I hope that you found this helpful as you welcome your new addition to your family.
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For some dogs, a simple fence isn’t enough to keep them in the yard. Maybe you’ve got a little escape artist that’s too smart for their own good. Maybe you’re raising a brave explorer who loves to get lost. Or maybe you’ve been unlucky enough to have your dog stolen from their own backyard. Creating a safe and secure space to keep your pet can be a challenge, but we’re here to help. Understanding the common reasons dogs get out and what you can do to prevent it from happening goes a long way toward keeping your furry friend safe.
Why Does Your Dog Want to Escape?
Securing your yard starts with understanding the impulses that drive your dog to see what’s beyond your property. Spaying or neutering is an important first step in curbing a dog’s desire to roam, but there may be other factors at play. Creating a safe yard for a lonely Labrador in search of a friend is an entirely different exercise than securing a burrow-happy beagle on the hunt for a squirrel. We’d recommend trying to learn as much as you can about your dog’s breed and underlying instincts. The most common reasons dogs try to escape are:
- Feeling socially isolated
- Lack of stimulation (think toys)
- Desire to escape something that scares them, like thunder
Countering these behaviors starts with understanding which one is at the heart of your dog’s desire to break free. Once you’ve got a theory of what’s motivating your pup, it’s time to give your safety measures a second look.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Secure in Your Yard
Microchip Your Dog and Scan Their Nose
If your dog is committed to getting out, your most useful tool will be the ability to track and locate them wherever they’re found. There are a huge variety of products and services designed to help you keep your dog safe, but the most important thing you can have is a plan. You’ve most likely heard of GPS tracking chips that can be implanted in your pet, but you may not know that you can also scan their nose. Through a new app called NOSEiD, you can capture your dog’s unique nose print, which will give whoever finds them a faster, simpler way of reuniting the two of you. It’s that easy! Just download the app, call your pup over and start scanning.
The Best Defense Is a Good … Fence
Even though they’re not technologically impressive, a sturdy wooden or metal fence still plays an important part in protecting your dog while they’re in your yard. Not only does it keep your dog from wandering, it also keeps unwanted animals and people away from your dog’s space. If your dog can leap over it, you’ll obviously need to raise the height, or you can add an overhang that makes it harder to clear. You might also consider planting some shrubs along the inside of the fence to discourage jumping. If your dog is burrowing beneath your fence, consider adding a barrier beneath it or putting a bumper collar on them, which makes it harder to squeeze into small spaces.
If you have a particularly territorial dog, you may want to cover any open spots in your fence that your dog might spy adversaries through. A solid fence may help them feel safe and diminish their need to patrol their surroundings.
When it comes to electric fences, using one successfully depends on your dog’s personality. If your dog has recently been ignoring the electric fence, you may want to consider retraining them or investing in a physical barrier.
Make “Yard” Mean “Yay!”
Making your yard a dog-friendly and entertaining space is a huge part of keeping your dog safe at home. With enough toys, space to burn energy and ideally a friend to play with, your dog won’t have any reason to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. A few popular dog-pleasers you may want to provide are:
- A bit of shelter or shade
- A source of water
- A rotating lineup of toys
- Their favorite playmate (you)
Use Your Yard Wisely
Last, but not least, if you leave your dog unattended for a long period of time in your yard, there’s a good chance they will get bored and look for a way to burn off some energy. To prevent them from getting mischievous, limit the amount of time they’re out on their own, and check in frequently. Also, for dogs with separation anxiety or that may be afraid of loud noises, your presence will help keep them calm and close to home.
With your dog chipped or their nose scanned, you’ll always have an option in the event that your dog strikes out on their own. Beyond that, understand what makes your dog unique and check your yard’s safety features regularly for holes or weak points. As usual, a little preparation now can save you a ton of time and energy in the long run.
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