Putting a leash on your puppy for the first time begins the introduction to the “heel” command and can be a traumatic experience for both dog and
owner. Not all pups have an adverse reaction to being restrained for the first time, but those that do can possibly create a panic situation for the
inexperienced, unsuspecting person holding the other end of the leash as well as the dog himself. In most cases, the older the pup the worse his
reaction will be when first introduced to the leash or any type of restraint. It’s best to introduce your puppy to the leash as soon as you can after bringing
him home at seven weeks. At this tender young age he is not strong enough to put up a big fight and more importantly, he knows very little about being
wild and free, which makes the introduction much easier on both dog and trainer. Generally speaking, the younger a pup is when first introduced to most
any command the easier it is for him to learn, accept and understand. If a young dog has been allowed to run free without any demands put upon him for
the majority of his young life he is not going to give up that freedom without some resistance. However, by overdoing discipline in a young dog its
possible you could create attitude problems or stifle learning, which could set the youngster’s training career back or even destroy his desire to hunt
completely. In other words, there are limits. I’ve had clients tell me that their pup had such a violent reaction when first restrained that they just dropped
the leash out of fear that the puppy would injure himself---not a good idea. Hang on until the dog settles down (trust me; he will eventually settle down).
Of course, if you are uncomfortable holding onto the leash while your dog is cutting flips on the other end, don’t be foolish---drop the leash. Anything is
possible, but I have never known a dog to injure himself when first introduced to the leash, and I’ve had some wild ones. If your puppy is still acting up
after ten seconds or so, it’s now time to change your tactics, so verbally praise him while pulling him towards you with the leash, then stroke and praise
him when he is in your grasp. Once the pup has calmed down, move away from him and start the process all over again and your pup should clam down
and be ready to begin heeling within three tries. Never forget, this is all about submission---a characteristic your young pup is not accustomed to
handling. If your youngster is going to become a quality hunting dog he must learn to submit and this lesson is a perfect way to begin that process.

Dog training would be so much easier if all you had to do is begin teaching your pupil while he is very young, never letting him know that there is any
other way of doing things but the way you taught him. Doesn’t that sound like a damned good training theory, well like everything that sounds to good to
be true, this training theory has its flaws. As I mentioned, there are limits you cannot go beyond with a puppy without causing severe problems. For
instance, once your puppy has submitted to the restraints of the leash, do not expect him to heel perfectly by your side immediately. Instead, put him on
a long or retractable leash and take him for a walk, allowing him to range to the end of the cord. About three times during the walk you should bring him
back to a proper heeling position with small jerks on the leash as you say “heel”, praising him when he is where you want him to be, and then release him

You cannot expect your puppy to heel perfectly the first time you begin the lesson. “Small doses is the mother of perfection”, as my Uncle Frank told me
many times. Keep all of your leash lessons short and expect only what the puppy has to give today, with his short attention span. Some days may even  
seem as though your dog is regressing, but that’s normal; gently make your point and end the session, for tomorrow is another day.
Good Hunting
Grady Istre reibar@impulse.net
Training Tips