It can be quite a challenging experience getting your pup ready to venture out into the real world, with one of the first obstacles being the dreaded collar and lead!!! Unfortunately, puppies aren’t born with the understanding of why we need to use collars and leads. Because of this, they require compassion, patience and training while teaching them how they should behave while wearing them.
Step 1 – Introduce your puppy to the collar slowly by putting it on for short periods of time and slowly building it up. If they keep scratching then use games and treats to distract them, this will also help to build up a positive association with the collar.
Step 2 – Once they are used to wearing the collar, get your puppy used to you touching it. This will help to desensitise them to you holding their collar. Start by touching the collar and giving treats, slowly build this up to holding the collar for short periods of time, and then longer. This will make it easier if you ever have to take hold of their collar in the park, either to remove them from a situation or to put their lead on.
Step 3 – To put on the lead first get your puppy to sit and give them a treat. Then once they are sitting, clip on the lead and give them another treat. Then take the lead off again and practice this repeatedly. Through doing this they learn to positively associate getting the lead put on with treats. This helps for future walks in the park when your puppy is having fun and you need to put their lead on to go home. It also teaches them that putting on the lead is a calm and rewarding experience, which sets the foundations for a happy walk.
Step 4 – Puppies love chewing and playing with everything, including their lead! By getting them to sit calmly while putting on the lead this will help to stop lead chewing. Never leave for a walk while you puppy is chewing on the lead and misbehaving, as you will end up unknowingly rewarding their bad behaviour. I feel that one of the most important commands to teach your puppy is the ‘off’ command (or leave, drop…whatever you feel most comfortable using). Not only will this help to stop your puppy chewing on the lead but it also comes in useful when they are play biting.