How To Teach A Puppy To Focus On A Walk

The following is a question from one of our readers:

Hi Ty! 

I have a 4 mnths Rottie (Rottweiler) female. She is a quick learner and we practice on the generals like, sit, come, down etc.

One problem is to keep the dog’s attention when we are out walking.  It is probably because she is so young and everything is new to her but her attention is on whatever is in sight or in her nose.  To make her go by my side without pulling the leash is sometimes a little difficult.  Do you have any advice on how to get the puppy’s attention and obedience in those situations?


How To Teach A Puppy To Focus On A Walk- Resources

How To Teach A Puppy To Focus On A Walk On Youtube
If you want to know how to teach a puppy to focus on a walk there are a few resources below that you can use:

This is my crazy man method for loose leash walking.

This DVD program gives big detail into loose leash walking, coming when called, staying when told, etc.

The reality is that if you are going to teach a puppy to focus there are really only two ways to do it:

  1. Through compulsion.  Compulsion means correction.  In this context it would mostly be referring to some sort of leash correction, tug on the leash, etc.
  2. Through motivational techniques.  Whether you are referring to verbal and physical praise, treats, or toys it is possible to train a dog to focus using just motivational techniques.

How To Teach A Puppy To Focus On A Walk- I Don’t

The reality is that I rarely train a dog that young to focus.  The reason is two-fold:

  1. Puppies have their heads in the clouds.  They aren’t mentally ready for a great deal of focus.  Yes, they are smart and they can pick things up quickly.   But they’ve got minds with next to no attention span.  Trying to train a puppy to focus with compulsion means that you have to use an awful lot of compulsion.  I don’t like that.  Once a dog gets to about 6-7 months of age they are usually able to focus better and now in the space of 10-15 minutes I can have a dog paying attention.
  2. Using motivational techniques works quickly.  It just doesn’t work very completely without a TON of work.  What I mean by that is that, yes, you get yourself some hot dogs and you’ve got a puppy looking at you like a champ.  But in order for you to actually go on a walk and NOT use hot dogs you are talking months and months of work.  I’ll take the easy route and just wait for the dog to get a bit older and then I’ll tackle the leash pulling problem with a balanced approach of proper correction and proper praise.