Teaching a dog to walk on a lead is perhaps the most basic of all dog training, but judging from the dogs I see walking around the neighborhood every day, this basic piece of training is missing in many cases. No matter what the size of the dog, the best time to teach this important lesson is when the puppy is still young. Young puppies are much more accepting of new things and new situations than are older dogs, and it is far easier to teach good habits from the start than to try to eliminate bad habits later on.
One of the most important parts of teaching a puppy to lead is simply allowing him to get used to the strange new thing around his neck. Simply placing the collar on the puppy and leaving it in place can teach the important lesson that this new object is nothing to be afraid of. Of course it is important that the puppy be supervised whenever the collar is left on, and providing positive reinforcement in the form of treats or other goodies can help things along as well.
Dog owners can learn a great deal simply by watching the puppy and his reaction to the collar. Some puppies will take the collar right away and act as if it has always been a part of their lives. Others will resist, perhaps trying to chew the collar off or rub it off on the floor or carpet. These simple observations can help dog owners determine when it is appropriate to move on to the next training step.
It is important to wait until the puppy has fully accepted the collar before beginning any further training with the leash. The collar is the most basic of all training tools, but every puppy will learn at his own pace, and it is important for dog owners to respect those differences and use them to their advantage.
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