How To Get A Dog Used To A Collar and Leash

As a dog owner, attempting to get your dog used to a collar and leash has the potential to be quite a stressful and frustrating task. Whilst there are some dogs who are instantly comfortable with a collar and leash,  it is certainly not uncommon for other dogs to have a hard time taking to the concept.

As a result, they may refuse to let you put a collar around their neck or perhaps they may tug and chew on the leash whenever you try to take them for a walk. When this happens, you wouldn’t be alone amongst dog owners in feeling the urge to give up!

However, it is important not to just toss the collar and leash aside. Dogs who go on regular walks with their owners are generally much more happy and healthy than those who don’t. Because of this, it’s well worth the time and effort to get your dog used to his collar and leash. Whilst temperament and speed of learning does vary from dog to dog, the following tips, tricks and pieces of advice are sure to help you along the way of leash training your pup.

Picking the Right Products

Believe it or not, the leash and collar that you purchase makes a huge difference to how much your dog likes them. First and foremost, it is crucial to pick a collar that fits just right.

Testing whether the collar is a good fit is simple: once the collar is placed around your dog’s neck, you should be able to stick two fingers underneath and have about an inch of space left. If you can’t do this, or you feel it may be a bit too tight, go for a bigger collar. Dogs who are forced to deal with a tight collar are much less likely to adjust to wearing it. A lightweight collar made of nylon with either a snap or buckle closure is often best choice. As always, it is important to experiment to discover what works best for your dog.

Also bear in mind that as your dog grows, his collar size will grow as well. Be sure to regularly check for a good fit, upgrading to a larger collar when necessary.

It is also important to take the time to pick out the right leash for your dog. This may seem overwhelming as walking into any pet store you will notice that leashes are sold in a wide variety of lengths, materials and styles. The materials that your should stick too during training are cotton web and nylon, whilst the length should be just around six feet. As for width, smaller dogs work well with leashes that are ¼-inch wide, whilst leashes that are at least ½-inch wide work best with larger breeds.

As a quick side point, please avoid the temptation of a retractable leash. Retractable leashes can be a huge hazard to you, your dog and passers-by! This is because you have no control over your dog when holding the plastic reel, and if you need to pull your dog in this can be very difficult to do quickly enough in an emergency.

The Collar

The key to getting your dog used to a collar is to desensitise him to it. Any dog is going to be apprehensive when something unfamiliar is placed around his neck, therefore it is your job to make the collar less frightening in his eyes. An excellent way to do so is to tell your dog to sit and then reward him with his favorite treat. After the treat, immediately show him the collar. This helps to associate the collar with something positive and improve his perception of it.

Once this has been repeated a few times, try lightly touching him with the collar. When he has gotten comfortable with this, you can slowly begin to place it around his neck. If you observe any kind of stress from your dog, go back and repeat the previous step. This ensures that your training sessions are rewarding and that you are keeping things positive and not increasing your dog’s fear of the collar.

The Leash

The next step is to begin incorporating the leash into the routine. Many dogs dislike both the weight and overall feel of a leash. To combat this, you should try tying a shoe string around their collar and allowing them to move freely around the room. Be sure to supervise them whilst the string is attached at all times, staying vigilant to ensure that it does not become tangled or caught on any kind of furniture as this will only add to their fear of the leash.

When you feel confident that they have become comfortable with the light ‘leash’, you should try playing with them. Attempt to pick up the leash and lead during playtime. This will teach them to associate a leash with play, something positive. Gradually increase the weight until they are okay with the weight of a normal leash. Other weighted options include rope and ribbon.

Once you have finally worked your dog up to a normal leash, there is still some training that needs to be done. If they are antsy when you attach the leash, stand still until they calm down. Once they have calmed down, reward them with a treat. If the problem is that they pull on the leash, you should immediately stop moving and take two steps back until they move towards your. Reward your dog with a treat and continue walking again. The instant that they begin tugging on the lash on, repeat this process. They will love the leash before you know it!

Common Mistakes

There are several common mistakes that dog owners make when attempting to help their dog get used to their collar and leash.

For one, you should never pull back on the leash. In most cases, your dog will respond by pulling back even harder.

Another mistake is letting the walk continue when they misbehave. If you keep walking, that is simply showing them that they get to go where they want even faster. Don’t be afraid to stop and wait for your dog to stop pulling before carrying on, even turning back and ending the walk if he won’t stop pulling. Reward your dog for calm walking with plenty of praise whilst walking.

Be patient- if it seems like getting your dog use to their leash and collar is a lot work, you’re not wrong!

It is going to take effort and dedication on your end but in the long run, you will be happy you that put the work in, especially when your dog is finally enjoying wearing their collar and walking on a leash.

Please note that there is absolutely no need for prong or pinch collars. Many trainers will refuse to recommend them due to the fact that they actually make the dog more afraid of the collar because of the pain that it causes them.

Chewing The Leash

If you are having problems with your dog chewing their leash, take a look at this video:


Doggy Dan, the creator of the video, is a world renowned dog training expert and author. He has put together a video course called ‘The Online Dog Trainer‘, featuring over 250 videos in which he demonstrates how to solve a huge number of common behavioural issues as you watch.

This is a great course, and an opportunity for you to learn from a top class dog trainer at a fraction of the price of hiring one. Click this link to visit the website and find out more.

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