All dogs need to accept the restraints of a leash and this can be hard for some puppies. If your Golden is frightened by the leash as a puppy, he may resent the leash for the rest of his life. Therefore you may want to introduce the leash in a non-threatening manner.
Soon after you bring your puppy home, put a soft nylon or cotton buckle collar on him. Make sure it’s loose enough to slip over his head should he get tangled up with something. After a day or two, when he is no longer scratching at the collar, attach a leash to the collar and let him drag it around the house for ten or fifteen minutes while you watch him to make sure it doesn’t tangle on something. While the puppy is dragging the leash, he will step on the leash, feel the tug on his neck and just generally get used to the feel of it.
After two or three times of dragging the leash, you can teach your puppy to follow you when you have the leash in hand. Have a few pieces of a soft treat you know he likes such as hot dog or cheese. Let him sniff the treat and then back away while you verbally encourage him by saying something such as, “Let’s go! Good boy!” When he follows you for a few feet, stop, praise him and let him have a bite of the treat. Since Goldens are food hounds, training them with treats makes the process much easier.
Repeat this activity two or three times and then quit for this session. Reward your puppy by playing. After two or three training sessions like this, start making it more challenging by backing away from your puppy faster or by adding turns or zigzags. If he acts confused, stop and go back to the simple exercise he was the most comfortable with.
It is important to never stop the training session when your Golden puppy is confused. Instead, always stop the training session on a happy note. Do something you know he can do and do well, then stop, praise him enthusiastically and play with him for a few minutes.
Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book. This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.