Teaching your dog to walk on a leash is very important, especially if you live in an apartment and the only time your dog spends outside is the time you take him for a walk. If you fail to get him used to a leash, your walks, playtime and visits to a vet can become very unpleasant experiences for both, you and your furry little companion.
Just like with house breaking, or any other training process, you need to be patient with your dog. Of course, not all dogs are the same. Some of them get used to collar or a leash in no time, while some others can be quite the troublemakers. French Bulldogs are generally smart dogs, so they will probably get what u want from them right away, but it is their “look at me, I’m a big dog in a small coat” attitude that might make it a bit tough and time consuming. However, your job is to be consistent, patient, calm, but confident and assertive and just give it time.
Now, let’s get to training steps… First, you need to by a leash. Sounds obvious, right? Well… Make sure it looks comfortable and it is something that would be the least unpleasant for the dog. For a start, buy a light one, until your Frenchie gets used to it and later, as he grows, u can get a bigger, stronger one.
Trick one- distraction! Just like with small children, the trick to getting dogs to do what you want, when they refuse, is to do it while their mind is occupied with something else. Preferably, something pleasurable, like eating or playing, for instance. If you want to get your dog accustomed to a leash, make sure you put it on only when the dog feels safe and comfortable. Never do it if he is already anxious or scared by something, because putting the leash on will only make him more agitated.
To get him used to a leash, you can put it on even while he is in the house and you are not going outside for a while. Put it on just tight enough so he can’t take it off, but not tight enough to make him nervous and uncomfortable. If he feels a bit irritated by the collar, play with him or cuddle him for a while, until he forgets he is wearing it. It is good for your Frenchie to associate leash with playtime. It also might be useful to let him know he is not going to be your “slave” once you put the leash on, so, you can just let him wear it and sdrag it around the house for a while. It teaches him you will give him some freedom and space even when the leash is on. Then, you can call him to come to you from time to time and take the leash and lead him. You can give him a treat when he obeys, but make it a small one. Otherwise, you will have to wait until he is done chewing.
In extreme cases of refusing the collar, u can give him some especially tasty treats. It is also a good idea to put the collar while he is eating and playing with another dog. If he keeps scratching his neck, it means he is irritated and you have to distract him, if he does not, than- good for you, he has accepted your domination and learned his lesson! You can go reward his royal Frenchie furriness with a nice walk in the park or play time with his mates!
When you finally do go outside, give your dog some time to realize what is going on and to start walking beside you. Some dogs will do it even without the leash. Some will be a bit resistant, sit in one place and refuse to move. If that is the case, don’t ever scold him or yank the leash. Instead, pet him on the head, walk a few steps away from your dog, kneel on one knee and call him to come to you. When he does, give him a treat and gently try to make him walk beside you. You can keep one treat in your pocket, just to make him think he will be rewarded if he obeys.
These are the main steps, take your time and be persistent. After all, if your dog feels safe and happy with you, and you have also managed to teach him that you are the pack leader he must obey, this process will go very smoothly and you will soon be enjoying long refreshing walks with your little friend.