So, you’ve got a tiny new puppy and you’re keen to show him or her off to the world? But the outdoors is a big, scary place and your new puppy is so tiny! You’ll definitely need a collar and lead for your new puppy, but when do you start training them?
Start training early, but keep it light
As with other aspects of training a puppy, slow and surely is the route to success. If your puppy has to wear their new collar for too long, they might begin to build up a negative association with it, which will make it more difficult to get them to use it in the future. This also begins a trend of your puppy defying you, which is not a behaviour you want to encourage.
Instead, start small. Slowly introduce the collar to your puppy, allowing it to sniff and become familiar with this new strange object. Let your puppy wear the collar for short periods of time at first, ideally just as something nice is going to happen – like playing outdoors or food time. When your puppy is comfortable wearing the collar, you can introduce the lead, again for short periods of time while your puppy gets used to it.
With a bit of effort, your puppy will associate the collar and lead with positive things from an early age, which will mean walkies is much less stressful for you in the future (it can be much harder to convince an older dog to stop pulling on the lead)!
Be ready for when your puppy has had their vaccinations
Vets advise not to take puppies to outdoor areas where other animals may have been until they’ve been vaccinated (usually around 10-14 weeks of age). Obviously this is to help your young pupper avoid catching infections.
But, it’s also important to socialise pups with other dogs and people at an early age – around 6 to 14 weeks. So there will be times that having a collar and lead for your young pup is needed. You should take this time to ensure your pup is comfortable wearing their collar and walking on a lead. By the time they are good to venture in the outdoors, they should be acclimatised and will be able to walk with you safely.
A word of caution on the fitting of a collar
Puppies are avid explorers and despite their diminutive stature, can move quickly when they want to (which can be often!). This is one of the reasons a well-fitted collar is essential. Puppies aren’t as conscious of their environment as older dogs, so they are much more likely to get their collar caught on something. So, it’s important to ensure that the collar is snug-fitting, but there’s still enough space for you to put two fingers between the collar and your puppy’s neck.
If all else fails, try a harness
Some dogs just don’t get used to something being around their neck like a collar, so consider a harness instead. Some dogs prefer a harness as it isn’t quite so restrictive and can be more comfortable to wear.
Do you have any tricks for getting a young puppy used to wearing a collar? Let us know in the comments.