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Training your new puppy to accept the collar and lead

Walking on a collar and lead is an important skill that every dog must learn.  Even the best trained dog should never be taken outside the home or yard without a sturdy collar and leash.  Even if your dog is trained perfectly to go off lead, accidents and distractions do happen and a collar, with proper identification attached, is the best way to be sure you will get your beloved companion back.

Of course before you can teach your new puppy to accept a leash, he or she must first learn to accept wearing a collar.  The first step is to choose a collar that fits the dog properly.  It is important to measure the puppy’s neck and to choose a collar size accordingly.  After the collar has been put on the puppy, simply let him or her get used to it.  It is not unusual for a puppy to try to pull on the collar, whine, roll or squirm when first introduced to a collar. 

The best strategy is to simply ignore the puppy and let him or her get used to the collar.  It is a mistake to either punish the dog for playing with the collar or to encourage the behavior.  Distracting the puppy often helps, and playing with a favorite toy, or eating some favorite treats, can help the puppy quickly forget that he or she is wearing this strange piece of equipment.

After the dog has learned to accept the collar, try adding the leash.  Hook the leash to the collar and simply sit and watch the puppy.  Obviously, this should only be done either in the house or in a confined outdoor area.  The puppy should be allowed to drag the leash around on its own, but of course the owner should keep a close eye on the puppy to ensure that the leash does not become snagged or hung up on anything.

At first, the leash should only be left on for a few minutes at a time.  It is a good idea to attach the leash at mealtimes, playtime and other positive times in the life of the puppy.  That way the puppy will begin to associate the leash with good things and look forward to it.  If the puppy shows a high degree of fear of the leash, it is a good idea to place it next to the food bowl for awhile to let him get used to it slowly.  Eventually, he will come to understand that the leash is nothing to be afraid of.

After the puppy is comfortable with walking around the house wearing the leash, it is time for you to pick up the end of the leash for a few minutes.  You should not try to walk the puppy on the leash; simply hold the end of the leash and follow the puppy around as he or she walks around.  You should try to avoid situations where the leash becomes taut and any pulling or straining on the leash should be avoided.  It is fine for the puppy to sit down.  Try a few games with the collar and lead.  For instance, back up and encourage the puppy to walk toward you.  Don’t drag the puppy forward, simply encourage him to come to you.  If he does, praise him profusely and reward him with a food treat or toy.  You should always strive to make all the time spent on the leash as pleasant as possible.

It is important to give the puppy plenty of practice in getting used to walking on the leash in the home.  It is best to do plenty of work in the home, since it is a safe environment with few distractions.  After the puppy is comfortable walking indoors on a leash, it is time to start going outside, beginning of course in a small, enclosed area like a fenced yard.  After the puppy has mastered walking calmly outdoors on a leash, it is time to visit some places where there are more distractions.  You may want to start with a place like a neighbor’s yard.  Walking your new puppy around the neighborhood is a good way to introduce your neighbors to the new puppy, while giving the puppy valuable experience in avoiding distractions and focusing on his leash training.

Puppies sometimes develop bad habits with their leashes, such as biting or chewing on the leash.  To discourage this type of behavior, try applying a little bit of bitter apple, Tabasco sauce or similar substance (just make sure the substance you use is not toxic to dogs).  This strategy usually convinces puppies that chewing the leash is a bad idea.

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Dog training – Leash/collar training

There are many different styles of dog training and finding the one that works best for you is important for creating a dog that is a talented, loyal and faithful member of the family.  All successful methods of dog training work to reinforce the relationship between dog and handler and the foundation of any successful training program is getting the respect of the dog.  Fortunately, dogs are wired by nature to seek out leaders and to follow the direction of those leaders.

This article focuses on one of the most popular methods of dog training – the so called leash/collar style of training.  Other articles will focus on the other popular style of training dogs, often called reward training or positive reinforcement.

Both leash/collar training and reward training have been around for a very long time and they have proven their effectiveness over time.  The type of training that works best will vary from dog to dog and from breed to breed.  It is important to remember that each breed of dog has its own unique qualities, reinforced by hundreds of years of selective breeding.

Of course personalities of individual dogs vary quite a bit, even within established breeds.  You, as the owner of the dog, know better than anyone which style of dog training will work best, so it is important to work with the trainer you choose to achieve your goal of a willing, obedient and friendly dog.

Leash and collar training is the best way to accomplish many types of dog training, particularly in situations where the dog must have a high level of reliability.  For instance, dogs that have an important job to do, such as rescue dogs, police dogs and guard dogs, generally benefit from leash and collar training.

In leash and collar training, varying degrees of force can be used, ranging from slight prompts with the lead to very harsh corrections.  The amount of correction used should be appropriate to the situation, since using too much correction, or too little, will be ineffective.

In a collar and leash based dog training program, first the dog is taught a particular behavior, generally with the leash.  After the dog has demonstrated that it understands the command, the leash is then used to correct the dog if it disobeys, or when it makes a mistake.  The leash is the main form of controlling and communicating with the dog in leash and collar training.

When using leash and collar training, the dog must be trained to trust the handler and accept his or her directions without question.  In order for the dog to be fully trained, the handler must demonstrate the ability to place the dog into a posture or position he or she does not want to take.  This does not mean using force, but it does generally require some level of physical manipulation.  This manipulation is most easily and safely done using the main tool of leash and collar training – the leash.

It is important for every would be dog trainer to understand that the leash is simply a tool.  While the leash is an important tool in this form of training, it is important for the dog trainer to be able to eventually achieve the same results using whatever tools are at hand.

Even when the only tools at hand are the owner’s body and skill, the dog should be willing to obey.  Creating a leader/follower relationship between handler and dog is still very important, and it is important to use the leash as a tool and not a crutch.  A properly trained dog should be willing to obey whether the leash is present or not.