What Age To Start Leash Training A Puppy?
[And How To Do It]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

Dogs provide us with safety, security, peace of mind, and companionship. The least we can do for them is taking care of their safety by successfully leash training them. Leash training will keep them from getting in trouble, and they will also get into the habit of wearing a leash from a young age. There are several reasons that you must consider before leash training your puppy. Most people do the needful because it is challenging; they should always be in control for their safety; they get stuck at odd places like the fences in your garden.

There are also some worst-case scenarios like physically being involved in a fight because your puppy approached an adult dog without knowing the consequences, leading to severe injuries (Yikes!). However, you should leash-train your dog at a young age because they are receptive to new commands and actions; they learn the quickest in this stage. So here are a few pointers for new pet parents that are clueless about leash training their puppy. Don’t worry; we’ve got you!

How To Start Leash Training Your Puppy

The right age to train your puppy

When it comes to training your puppy at the right age, you must hit the sweet spot. Anything above the recommended age will be a stressful situation for both you and your pet. On the contrary, if you start too early, then your puppy will be confused and scared. When your puppy is approximately between the age of 8 to 10 weeks, you should start the training right away. 

Choosing The Perfect Collar

Do not get all excited and buy a premium collar for your puppy at this age because dogs grow fast, and your puppy will most definitely need a larger collar after a few months. So an inexpensive collar where you can fit two fingers, ideally flat and made from nylon, should be apt for now. Also, give your puppy some time to get used to the collar if they start resisting it at first. 

Length Of The Leash

We suggest buying a 6-foot length leash made from nylon, this will be light-weight, and your puppy will have enough room to roam around without you losing control. If your puppy is slightly towards the larger side, then a heavy leather leash should suffice. Don’t give in to the urge of having a retractable leash; focus on not letting your pup drag, pull or surge ahead in the beginning stage. 

Teaching Cues

In psychology, the term conditioning refers to the phenomenon of having someone respond to cues for the reward. Ivan Pavlov performed an interesting experiment on a ‘salivating dog’ that you might want to check out. However, in simple words, introduce your dog to a particular sound, and whenever they respond to it, reward them with a treat. You will notice how your dog becomes attentive every time in a few days you make that sound. Suppose you manage to do this, congratulations! You’ve successfully taught your dog to react to cues.

Training Options

Training your puppy outside your house or in a park is not the best way to get started. Public places have too many distractions, but you need a quiet place so your dog can focus on you. Apart from that, there are also other dogs in parks and other areas, so you’ll be putting your puppy’s security at risk. In our humble opinion, you should train your puppy inside your house, which solves both issues at once. 

Training Tools

Training tools are essential for large breed puppies. If your dog keeps tugging and pulls you down the street, then get a no-pull harness to avoid this. Such tools are made especially for a strong, large breed, and hard-headed puppy. The leash mechanism effectively trains the dogs that love to tug and drag, so if you’ve got a Hercules puppy, don’t skip on this one. 

Let Your Puppy Come To You

Whenever your puppy approaches you while wearing a leash and collar, back up a few steps and reward them with treats or appreciation for coming towards you. Keep doing this until your puppy gets the hang of cue and walks towards you every time you use it. Try not to mentally exhaust your puppy because they have a short attention span, so only use it when your puppy is excited, and eventually, it will become second nature to them. 

Taming Bad Behavior

People who resort to beating or punishing bad behaviors end up with aggressive or scared adult dogs with no real bond. Using violence with your puppy will do more harm than good, so remember, there are always ways to reinforce good habits in your puppy positively. Instead, try addressing this behavior every time it occurs in healthy ways. Some ways to deal with such actions are listed below. 

Puppy Pulling Leash?

If your puppy keeps pulling on the leash, then don’t move an inch. Stand where you are and let the puppy know that yanking on the leash to nowhere. In such scenarios, use the cue to call your dog back and reward with a treat. Doing this calmly and consistently will get your puppy accustomed to being well-mannered. 

Puppy Doesn’t Move

So your puppy might throw a tantrum and sit down in the middle of the street. Do not panic and yell at your dog even in this situation. Just call the name, pull out a treat, and lure them into walking towards you. If they respond, feed them the treat and repeat the process every time your dog does something similar. 

Puppy Starts Barking

Most puppies bark because they see another dog passing by; this could also happen due to a lack of physical and mental exercises because there is too much unused energy. Even in this case, you can draw their attention with a treat every time they bark and solve this problem with peace and harmony. Just make sure that you follow the same approach every time your puppy misbehaves. 

Training Tips

Sense Of Smell

Dogs are known for their strong sense of smell. So before using a leash or harness on your dog, please encourage them to sniff it first. Sniffing is another way of getting your puppy to be more familiar with the leash. But only keep it limited to familiarizing, don’t let your dog play around and tug with the leash like a toy. 

Timely Rewards

Treats are significant for training puppies. Feel free to use their favorite toys and give them rewards every time they perform according to your will. Hold the treats near your dog’s face, close enough for them to take a whiff and walk at your desired pace for your puppy to follow. Make them accustomed to your verbal cues by rewarding them with treats and toys. 

Carrying Treats

Avoid carrying treats that are too large for the puppy. Huge treats will interrupt your training because the dog will take too long to finish the entire treat. Instead, carry small treats. The goal is to make them chewable so they are less time-consuming. Become habitual to bring treats with you in the beginning stages of training your puppy. 

Giving Directions 

Once your puppy understands the concept of leash walking and commands, you can take things up a notch. Try to get your dog to walk side by side with you, even when you are trotting, running, or changing directions. Initially, it might be hard for your puppy to change directions, but with positive reinforcements and treats, they can learn this easily. 

Be Patient And Supportive

Everyone feels overwhelmed when introduced to new things, even puppies. So please don’t be too harsh on them and let your dog adjust to the idea of leash walking. In case your dog looks nervous, console them with petting and treats. Pet parents must be patient until their puppy becomes used to walking with a leash. Please do not mistake this for rewarding bad behavior; we’re merely trying to make your puppy comfortable

What is Proofing Behavior?

Proofing behavior means that your dog will not waiver from behaving the way they usually do under challenging scenarios. One way of having proof of your dog’s ability is observing if they behave the same in crowded parks or other complex situations. First, start teaching your dog to stop and walk when you do, preferably in your backyard. Then you can advance to higher levels as your dog learns. You should reinforce this phase of the training without the use of immediate rewards.

Jumping For Rewards

Puppies should not be jumping up for rewards. If you find yourself in this situation, try to lower your dog’s position by either using sticky treats on long wooden spoons or using a commercial “treat stick.” Doing this will save you the trouble of bending over several times. 

Walking Ahead Of You

If your puppy is rushing ahead or tugging the leash, lure them by repeating the leash walk exercise. Pay your dog with rewards when it responds correctly to your sitting and walking commands. Try to do this purposely after every few steps to get it hard wired in your puppy’s brain. They will learn to act right when their well-behaved mannerism is rewarded from time to time, but be careful not to overdose with treats. 


If you’re worried that you are too harsh or cruel to your dog, then let us assure you that it is not the case. There is no better time for you to start than at the age of 8 to 10 weeks. We would not recommend going below that for several reasons. The only way your dog will be well-mannered during adulthood is by leash training at a young age. Make sure that you do not lose sight of the bigger picture here. In the end, it is all about having fun and being entertained by your puppy. So do not stress too much about the situation; dogs are the smartest and gifted animals.
If you train your puppy well, they will learn in a short period. Suppose you cannot do the needful yourself, due to lack of time or other reasons, there is always an option to hire a trainer. Once the right age for your dog passes, it will be quite challenging to train them. So do not let any circumstances hinder your dog’s growth and start teaching them at the right time. You can start with 15-20 mins in a day or have short sessions throughout the day; this amount of effort is more than enough for any dog.