Puppies, Collars, and Leashes, Oh My!


 For young puppies or a rescue that has never gotten use to a collar, it get them used to the collar before even starting with the leash.

Collar Exercise

It will take the puppy some time to get used to the collar and the leash. Be aware of the puppy’s level of comfort during the process of getting him familiar with these tools, so be sure to watch for displacement behavior, and to go slow and take a lot of breaks.

Collar: Have treats readily available. Collar exercises are ones that I typically don’t use a clicker for as the clicker is loud and will potentially be close to your puppy’s ear.

Collar Exercises:
Move the collar around, then treat.
Grab the collar with one hand, then treat.
Grab the collar from the left side, then treat.
Grab the collar from the right side, then treat.
Grab the collar from underneath the chin, then treat.
Take the collar off and put it back on, then treat.
Grab the collar from on top of the neck, then treat.
Grab collar with two hands, then treat.

Next Step: Do all the exercises while sitting on the ground next to the puppy. Once your puppy is happy with these exercises and is showing no signs of stress, stand up and do all of the following exercises listed above. This position will help him learn that it’s a good thing when you reach out towards him.

Note: Sometimes it helps to deliver a treat while simultaneously moving the collar around.

Introduction to Leash

When acclimating a puppy to a leash, I (usually, but not required) use a leash with no handle. I allow the puppy to roam around, allowing the leash to drag so that he gets used to the feel of it. It’s extremely important that the owner is observing and actively involved during this process. We don’t want any negative associations like getting the leash caught on something. I would recommend doing this activity for only a few moments once a day for a couple of weeks.


During the time that you allow puppy to drag the leash, you can encourage puppy to follow you by making kissy sounds and patting your leg. Be sure to make this a very positive experience with lots of praise and treats.

Next Step: After two weeks you can occasionally begin to pick up the leash for a few seconds as the puppy is following and drop it again. You can do this activity indoors as well as in your backyard.

Training Tip from my book Control On Leash
Michelle Huntting
Building the bridge of communication between dog and pet guardian 

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