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Dachshunds can be very independently minded dogs. While their unique spirit gives them a lot of character and can provide hours of entertainment, it can also make them resistant if you do not approach training with the right approach. It's important that you are working with your dog, not against him, which can trigger a stubborn streak. Pulling against your young Dachshund can create a tug of war, and a spirited young Dachshund can become confused or fight pressure he does not understand or is naturally inclined to resist.
Because your Dachshund is small, especially as a puppy, it may be tempting to just pick him up and carry him where you want to go. In an emergency situation this may be acceptable, but ultimately having your Dachshund puppy well leash trained will be invaluable. Your Dachshund needs exercise as he grows and learning to walk comfortably on a leash without pulling, which can damage his neck or spine, will be important. Because Dachshunds have long, low to the ground bodies they can be particularly susceptible to back and spine injuries. A dog that walks comfortably on a leash without pulling or resisting is less likely to cause or aggravate such injuries.
If possible, it is best to start training your Dachshund puppy to walk on a leash as young as possible, usually at about 8 weeks of age. Older dogs can be taught good leash manners too, but breaking established bad habits can be a challenge with a stubborn Dachshund. Practice redirecting your Dachshund puppy to get him to walk with you and avoid constantly pulling him to correct his attempts to go his own way, which can result in frustrating tug of wars, and a battle of wills. Instead, use positive reinforcement like treats or play to convince your Dachshund puppy that following you and staying with you is his best option. Your goal is to teach your dog not to pull on the leash by walking too far in front of you, lunging off to the side, or lagging behind you either. Remember on long walks, that your short legged canine companion may get tired, so keep walks an appropriate length or be prepared to carry a tired puppy when absolutely necessary.
Have an appropriately fitting collar or harness on your Dachshund puppy and the right length leash. Avoid flexi leashes during training as they do not provide firm boundaries. Have treats and a toy available to reinforce appropriate leash walking behaviors. Have patience and be ready to use some creativity to get your Dachshund puppy’s attention and avoid a pulling contest that can cause undue pressure on your dog's neck, resulting in injury. Distracting your Dachshund with a toy or getting him to chase you, or making a loud noise to get his attention may be more effective than constant tension from pulling to achieve correct leash behavior.
The Extinguish Tension Method
Put your Dachshund puppy on a leash and start walking forward. Call and encourage your dog forward, but do no pull. If he resists, put a treat in front of him and call him or hold a toy out in front.
When your Dachshund pulls off course, stop, let out slack on the leash, and turn around and run in the opposite direction.
Call your puppy
Call your puppy as you run. Provide a toy to play with when he follows you.
Stop for tension
Continue on. When your puppy pulls on his leash or walks too far in front, stop and wait. When he releases tension on the leash, proceed.
Encourage to stay with you
Practice walking with your Dachshund puppy next to you. If he resists, encourage forward, play games by running or tossing toys, stop when he pulls, and do not proceed until tension is released.
The Verbal Commands Method
Reinforce 'follow me'
Prior to introducing the leash, teach some off-leash verbal commands. Start with 'follow me' to get your Dachshund to come to you. Say "follow me" and run away from your puppy, when your puppy runs after you give him a treat and praise. Repeat.
Reinforce 'look at me'
Teach your puppy to 'look at me'. Provide the command and when your puppy stops and looks at you, capture the moment with a treat. A clicker can also be employed to capture and add another recognizable signal to the desired behavior.
Use 'follow me' with leash
Put your Dachshund puppy on a leash and say “follow me”. Your puppy should follow along with you and not resist or drag behind. You can praise and periodically reward your puppy.
Redirect with 'look at me'
When your puppy starts to pull in front or of to the side say “look at me” your puppy should stop and look at you. Give him a treat and then proceed. Do not let your puppy pull, but correct him by directing him to look at you. You can also provide praise or a toy or play instead of a treat.
Add 'heel' command
Practice walking with your Dachshund puppy beside you. Add the command for 'heel' to associate walking next to your left leg and not moving out in front of you or dragging behind you. Praise and encourage your puppy as you go.
The Lure to Position Method
Have treats at side
Have a pouch full of yummy treats at your side.
Hold treat at side
Put your Dachshund puppy on a leash and hold a treat in your closed hand at your side so your dog can smell the treat.
Encourage to walk at side
Proceed to walk, calling your Dachshund puppy and directing him to walk beside you.
Provide a treat from your hand periodically, encouraging your puppy to keep his nose by your hand. Never provide a treat if your Dachshund puppy is lagging behind, or pulling out in front or to the side.
Continue to provide treats
Put another treat in your hand from your treat pouch, and continue walking with the treat in your hand to lure your puppy into appropriate position. Provide treats every few steps, gradually increase the distance your Dachshund has to walk before getting rewarded.
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 01/25/2018, edited: 01/08/2021