Nobody will ever have to train a puppy to run. Training a puppy to walk on the other hand will take careful training and a great deal of positive reinforcement. Puppies have naturally curious natures and in the natural pack, are not restricted but can run ‘where the nose leads them’. Unfortunately, with the hazards of modern life, (most specifically, cars), it is not safe for your puppy to just run free. He needs to learn to walk on a leash, safe by your side. So how do you get your puppy to walk rather than follow his natural instinct for play and frolic?
The first thing to acknowledge is that training a puppy to walk is not actually training against his instincts. And just because you are training him to walk on a leash does not mean that you will not allow him to play or frolic at other times. A key fact to remember is that you are your puppy’s alpha and pleasing you is one of his stronger instincts. The best way to train him to walk on lead is by drawing on this desire to please – reward him well for actions that meet with your approval and he will naturally choose those actions.
Like all kinds of training for puppies, training a puppy to walk takes patience and a willingness to take it slow and in small increments. Puppies have short attention spans and will need repeated efforts over a period of weeks to perfectly master the new behaviors you are teaching. Working inside the house is best to start with as there are fewer opportunities for distraction in familiar surroundings. When he has mastered walking on the lead inside, head outside into a controlled space such as a fenced backyard. Only when he will consistently stay by your side should you venture out onto the street.
Training a puppy to walk comfortably on a lead will be good for your puppy and will make walks with him more pleasant for you. Working with your puppy’s natural inclination to please his alpha, and using positive reinforcement you will be able to institute this and other behaviors that will lead to a well controlled, happy and well-adjusted dog. To make sure that you have the happiest puppy possible, you want to balance play time, wrestling and frolic with times of discipline and training.