I have a 9-week-old female Yorkie that refuses to walk
on a leash. I may get her moving for two or three steps,
but then she puts on the brakes and refuses to budge.
Should I just be carrying her everywhere until she
decides to walk on her own?
Well, yes and no. Leash walking seems so basic to us,
but first time experiences for a puppy can be a bit
overwhelming. Keeping in mind that leash walking is an
activity you will likely want to repeat for the next 10
years or so, it makes sense to introduce it positively
from the beginning, to ensure success in the future.
owners of small breeds make the mistake of carrying
their little one around — it is faster and easier —
to the point that they are never leash trained. This can
be a problem down the road. A good way to introduce a
puppy to a leash and collar is to begin in the home.
a lightweight, soft material for a collar, and an
equally lightweight leash. You can begin by leaving both
on the floor for puppy to explore on her own. Leave them
by the food and water bowl, for example, so she is sure
to see and investigate them if she chooses. After that
brief introductory period, place the collar on her in
the house and allow her to adjust to wearing it. She may
scratch at it or try to get her mouth on it — she may
even decide she can’t move around while wearing it.
Just give her a little time to acclimate; you can help
by offering an enticing distraction, such as playing
with toys or tossing a few tasty treats around her that
she must move a few steps to get to.
she has adjusted to wearing the collar, which may take a
few minutes or days, attach the lightweight leash to it,
and let it just drag around behind her as she moves
through the house. Another acclimation period is
expected here, so just be patient. Allow her to
investigate it any way she wants, including chewing on
it. Once she has accepted its presence, gather a handful
of treats, pick up the leash and simply hold onto it and
follow her while she moves around the house, while
praising her and giving her frequent treats.
she becomes more mobile and confident while wearing the
lightweight leash and collar, with you following along
handing out goodies, begin to encourage her to walk with
you in a new direction. At this point, you become the
leader, instead of the follower. Aim for only a few
steps at a time, and offer lots of treats and praise to
encourage her to voluntarily move with you. Do not pull
her in the direction you wish her to go; treats and
praise are incentives to move with you. Each little
practice session should result in a few more steps
taken, and a higher level of confidence in your puppy.
it’s time to take your puppy outside, be prepared to
go slowly again. Although she should be comfortable
walking with you on a leash, now the presence of
everything in the world is there to grab her attention.
Let her investigate, while you follow along — be
gentle and encouraging.
should limit her exposure to areas outside her home
where other pets have access at this stage, due to her
not being fully immunized. So carry her if you are at
the park, or the veterinarian’s office. But in public
areas where dogs do not travel (think concrete areas
outside a supermarket, for example), put her down and
practice walking a few steps. Just be sure to end the
practice before she gets tired and stops for another
reason — exhaustion!
suspect that if you proceed slowly and work to build her
confidence, she’ll adapt quickly and truly enjoy leash
walking. Be patient, nurturing and gentle; it will pay
off big time and, in the future, you and your puppy can
walk for miles together.