Learning to walk obediently on a leash is one of the first basic training skills your puppy should master. Puppies as young as six weeks are ready to be introduced to a collar and leash, and by eight weeks of age, your puppy can learn how to walk for short distances on his leash. With a little time each day and a lot of patience and positive encouragement, your puppy will be happily walking by your side in no time.
Choose the correct collar and leash to begin training your puppy. Choke chains are not appropriate, as they may pinch the puppy's neck; instead, select a plain buckle collar with a ring to attach a leash to. A 6-foot lightweight but strong leash will allow you to control your puppy while giving him a little freedom, if he behaves.
Let your puppy wear his collar for a few days before you attach the leash. With your pocket full of his favorite treats, begin with short training sessions of no more than 10 minutes. By limiting your responses to only praise and treats, your puppy will quickly learn that he is rewarded when he complies with your requests. In addition, he will look forward to each day's training session.
Begin with your puppy on your left side, facing forward. If he will sit on command, that's great, but it is not required. Hold the end of the leash in your right hand and hold the leash midway with your left, taking up the slack. Use a command like "Heel" or "Let's Go" after calling your puppy by his name. For instance, you would say, "Fido, let's go." Use the same command every time.
Lead with your left foot, the foot closest to the puppy. Eventually, when you step out with your left foot, your puppy will automatically know what you want and he will begin walking, too. At first, the little guy may not understand your command, and that's where the treats come in.
Hold a treat with your right hand in front of your puppy when you give the command to begin walking. Some puppies get the idea right away and move forward. If this happens, praise him and give him the treat. Other puppies may instinctively pull backward or thrash about on the end of the leash. If this occurs, speak in encouraging tones and calm your puppy by kneeling on the floor next to him until he relaxes before trying again.
Walk only as quickly as your puppy can comfortably keep up with you. Part of good leash training is teaching your puppy to keep moving without stopping to sniff everything. When your puppy spots another dog, a human or an interesting plant, give a little tug on his collar and say, "Leave it." As your puppy learns to walk right beside you, loosen the tension on his leash slightly.
Teach your puppy to sit when you stop walking. After he can successfully walk on the leash, stopping is the next task. Train the "Sit" command off-leash, but use it when you stop walking. Eventually your pup will automatically sit when you come to a stop.