Collars, Leashes & Harness – Part II in a series

The first piece of this puzzle that we should tackle is the easy part – puppies! Many people are anxious to run out and get a collar and leash for their new puppy before they bring it home. They don’t want their new baby to run away, and they are sure that they need it for training. Well, you can save yourself some money! A puppy is a clean slate – he hasn’t learned any bad habits, no poor training to overcome, he is just eager to do what you ask.

The first thing to remember about puppies is that they love to play! They also learn through play, much like children do. Rather than put a heavy leash and collar on your pup and try to force them to “do your bidding”, I have a better idea. Don’t put a collar on your puppy. Instead, when you want to go for a walk, use a slip lead and a fun toy.


A slip lead, sometimes called a kennel lead, is an inexpensive, lightweight leash, that you can easily roll up and put in your pocket. No collar is needed, you just “slip” it over your puppy’s head. Keep the toy on your left side, and every time your new friend looks at you, praise her, then play for a few seconds and continue on your way. As your pup looks at you more frequently, praise, but don’t play every time. This will happen over time, so relax and remember to enjoy your time with your new friend! Once she learns that you are so much fun, she will pay more and more attention, and stay closer by your side.

20121024-230859.jpg Pretty soon, you can add the command “Heel”, or whatever you choose to tell your dog, “Walk next to me, and pay attention”. Remember to play as reinforcement sometimes, even when your puppy has this down pat. In fact, play as reinforcement even when your new puppy has grown into a 12 year old dog! Dogs love to play! Besides, it keeps us humans from taking ourselves too seriously!

Next time, we’ll talk about what to do with a dog that has learned to pull.
See you soon!


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