You’re off on your next adventure together and then you suddenly feel something tugging at the lead.
You look down to see your cute little shark-toothed puppy literally hanging off it…
You try to tell them to drop it and stop with the added ‘Let’s go’ or ‘what’s this’ to try and deflect the situation…
but they hang on, pulling and tugging at the lead and you’re stuck. Sometimes quite literally stuck on the spot.
You know they’re having a great time but the more you try and get them off the lead the more they continue to play tug of war with you!
Here are my 3 easy steps for stopping your puppy biting the lead on your walks:
1 Let’s assume it WILL happen and tool up for when it’s most likely.
Puppies are balls of energy and using their teeth is totally normal to them. Nipping and biting at your lead is (in their minds) completely fair game and usually AWESOME fun. The trick is to assume they will do it on your walk and begin to spot when it’s most likely going to happen. So you can get in there and stop it BEFORE they dig those teeth in.
Chances are they’ll mostly do it when they’re excited or exhausted so that’s the beginning and end of their walk…am I guessing right so far?! It’s also more likely to happen when you bump in to another dog, see a cat or spot that feather blowing in the wind…these are exciting or spooky to your puppy and both of these make the chances of nibbling increase.
Be observant and learn when your puppy is most likely to do it and try to get in there beforehand by giving them something to do instead, like a sit which will help their energy reduce slightly and then you can carry on with your walk. Reward them for it!
For youngsters and hyper puppies it’s worth remembering that this is normal puppy behaviour and letting them off for it a little when they’re young isn’t the end of the world and won’t create nightmare dogs! Accept it’s normal for pups and it’ll burn out as they get older and used to those adventures out.
2 Bribe them once them bribe them again.
They’re on the lead with those teeth and looking right at you so what do we do? Try not to pull the lead back as this will turn in to an awesome tug of war game. If you can (and it’s safe to do so) try to relax the lead and take the tension away. It’s not safe to drop the lead but if you can get some of that tension away that’s a great start.
We’ve then got to use the tools we brought with us and in the very early stages we’ve got to bribe them. So put the smelliest and tastiest treat right at your puppies nose, let them get a whiff of it and their teeth will release that lead, because they’ll be thinking ‘How can I eat that if I have a lead in my mouth?!’.
Now comes the training secret!
Rather than just simply giving them the treat (because they’ll eat it and then come straight back to the lead) keep it at their nose and lure them away a little and gently throw the treat to the ground. If there’s a patch of grass that’s even better. We want our puppies physically moving away from us a little (to reduce some energy) and engage that nose.
Sniffing out a treat is an awesome way to use up excess energy and relaxes puppies a little. Let them sniff the treat out and then vary calmly continue your walk. Bribery is totally fine in the early weeks of your puppies training, it's easy to fade it out but it's always better to start with it than it is to not.
3 Hey you there! Look at me!
Build focus and teach your puppy how to ‘check in’. Teaching them to respond to their name and keep checking in with their human is the ultimate skill for any dog. Everything else builds on this foundation skill and then when you need to get your puppies attention (because they’re nibbling something, dashing off or generally being energetic puppies) it’s so much easier to do.
Checking in with you becomes a habit for them and they’ll do it without thinking so then when you need them to check in with you to get them to drop a lead, they’ll be more likely to do it.
It will boost your skills as a dog owner and build a super strong foundation for building other vital skills like walking nicely on a lead or recall.
Keep in mind
It is totally normal for your puppy to use their teeth on something and if they’re nibblers at home and chew things, they’re likely to be a lead chewer too.
Don’t worry, keep calm and try to engage them in something else and as they grow that puppy energy will gradually fade away and this will be something only the youngsters do.
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