All dogs should be taught to walk on a leash, both for your safety and theirs.
Like most good skills, practice makes perfect - but leash training your 'Doodle is really not difficult! We've broken it down into 4 simple steps - read on to learn how you can teach your 'Doodle to walk on a leash!
There are 3 thing you will need to get started with leash training:
Leash Training Step 1: Build Positive Association
Before you go off on adventures with your 'Doodle, he should be completely comfortable wearing walking equipment.
Introduce the collar and leash, have him wear them for short periods of time in the house while you are playing with him and giving him treats. If you plan to use a body harness, introduce it slowly.
The goal here is to build positive association, where you you dog thinks that leash-time is fun and exciting!
Leash Training Step 2: Practice Recall
Besides practicing to have your 'Doodle to come on command, teaching your dog to "come" while on leash is a great way to help prevent pulling or other problems.
Practice inside first, where there's fewer distractions. Ask the puppy come to you, while he’s wearing the leash and collar. If he comes, back up a few paces, and offer treats or praise when he reaches you. Once your puppy understands, practice the progression until your puppy readily comes and walks with you a few steps.
After your 'Doodle seems to have a good grasp on what "come" means indoors, take the practice sessions outside. With more distractions, coming on cue might prove to be a challenge for your pup. But don't give up! A little patience goes far, and any baby step is a success!
Keep training sessions short and sweet. Puppies in particular have a short attention spans, and they tire easily, despite their seemingly boundless energy. Practicing throughout the day in short 10-15 minute intervals will get you much further than one long training session.
Leash Training Step 3: Positive reinforcement
This step goes hand-in-hand with step 2. Dogs repeat behaviors that earn them rewards, so positive reinforcement is the most effective way to teach him to walk nicely on a leash.
Positive reinforcement (reward-based training) is teaching your pup a cue that means, "reward is coming." The most common method of doing this is clicker training, but if you don't have a clicker, you can easily use another consistent cue such as "yes" or clucking your tongue.
Whichever one you choose, the method is the same - pick one and stick to it. Make the sound, and wait for your pup to offer you even a tiny second of eye contact or attention—then immediately mark and reward. After a few repetitions your pup understands that looking at you / coming to you, equals treats.
The more accurate and quick your mark is, the more effective your teaching becomes.
Once your 'Doodle has grasped the concept of positive reinforcement training, this method is extremely useful while he's on the leash walking beside you. Practice walking a few steps and stopping and asking for attention. Mark and reinforce for moments of nice leash walking and anytime you stop. This is the first step to a well-behaved dog while out and about.
Consistency is the key here!
Leash Training Step 4: Taking It to The Street
Now it's time to implement all the steps. Keep the first walks short. Gradually move from your home to the neighborhood, as your 'Doodle masters the skill. If you are walking, and your puppy starts pulling or getting distracted, make your cue sound and ask for his attention. Be sure to mark and reward when he obeys!
You'll want to teach the technique of ‘loose-leash walking’. Your 'Doodle should be walking steady at your side with a loose leash and no pulling.
The method of loose-leash walking is to stop or turn the other way as soon as pup begins to pull. Wait until the leash is slack before continuing, and reward him when he walks next to you. This teaches your dog that pulling is not the way to get anywhere, and walking nicely is the only way to make forward progress.
You can also gradually decrease the number of treats you give your puppy during a walk, but do keep some on hand at all times, for rewarding good behavior.
Training should be fun for you both!
Keep in mind walks are for your 'Doodle's benefit as much as yours! Allow your dog the freedom to do doggy things too such as sniffing, potty breaks, and greeting other dogs. Walking should always be a fun adventure, never a chore!
We hope you enjoyed this article! Properly leash training your 'Doodle will set you both up for years of enjoyment plus helps to keep your dog safe when out and about!