Starting to lead break a pup is one of the first and most important steps in preparing for conformation training. Even the dog that is the perfect picture of the breed standard will never do well in showing if it can not be controlled and allowed to show what a beautiful dog it is. Many different methods have been used and many different opinions on starting ages can be found. This is a collaboration of research from many to help summarize the process.
When is too early to start a pup for preparing to walk on lead? This opinion varies some but most feels around 6 to 7 weeks of age is about the right time. By this age the puppy has enough endurance for short walks and it is beginning to increase its attention span and needs mental stimulation.
The Early Walks
The beginning of lead training for many does not involve lead at all. While the pup is young it is bet to let it explore and play. The training part involves with the pup staying with the handler for periods of time during the walk. For instance, if walking the pup through the woods, it should be allowed to explore. While the pup is exploring the handler will call the pup’s attention and have it come close. When the pup comes, always reward and praise it. Usually using a treat for the pup to follow, the handler will begin to walk and have the pup follow. A this age do not expect much as the pups attention span will wander quickly. After a few minutes of following the pup should be rewarded and praised for a job well done and released to explore again. By keeping the sessions the pup needs to concentrate short the pup will learn much more.
Most prefer to use a simple nylon show collar when beginning to start a pup on lead. A choker collar may be needed for pups that are very resistant but should not be the first choice. If the pup already is use to walking to it’s owner off lead while a pup and knows it will be rewarded, walking on lead is an easy transition for most. This is why starting early is so important because it allows the pup time to explore things but also become accustomed to following and staying with its owner. It usually does not take long for staying with its owner to become routine for the pup.
Where to Start
The best place to begin walking the pup on lead is in an environment it is use to and comfortable with. Many trainers choose to use their own back yard, as the pup is use to it and will stay more focused. A new environment offers a puppy many new smells and items to review and it will be less likely to pay attention while training is being conducted.
The best way to start a pup to be walk is by the owner not walking anywhere. The owner will back away from the pup that is on leash with a treat and stoop down. The treat is held out to the pup and the puppy is asked to come. As anyone with a puppy knows it has no problem coming to get a treat. After several times doing this, the pup begins to learn the command and that it will be rewarded to coming to its owner.
Next the command is given only the owner will walk a few steps with the pup. If the pup follows, reward and praise it. If it does not follow and struggles, take your time and start again. By doing this and walking a little further each time the pup becomes accustomed to walking on lead and does not realize it.
As the puppy progressives in its walking it is recommended that the HEEL command be learned. Do not use the HEEL command for everyday walking, instead use a phrase such as “Let’s Go” and save the “HEEL” command for the ring. Teaching a pup to walk on lead can be an enjoyable experience for the puppy and owner as long as it is done correctly.
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