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Mastiffs are incredible dogs. However, as incredible as they are they also come in an incredible size. If you have a Mastiff puppy and would like to walk him as he grows, you will absolutely need to leash train him. Some adult Mastiffs weigh well over 200 pounds and can overtake most of their owners quite easily. The way to avoid this from happening is to train your Mastiff how to walk on a leash properly. Leash training your Mastiff puppy will give him leash manners while he’s little, train him to stay with you with a loose leash rather than pulling you along, and teach him that you are in control even when a bunny crosses your path. He wants to play with you. He wants to spend time with you. You are his person, and he can't wait to follow your lead. Your Mastiff on a leash will draw attention and affection from others. Be prepared when you're out on walks, so he knows how to behave without becoming overly excited jumping up on people or knocking you over.
Leash train your Mastiff puppy as soon as possible. The younger and smaller your Mastiff is, the easier this will be. When you train your Mastiff puppy to properly walk on a leash, you should expect him to walk beside you in a 'heel' position, not pull on the leash, and even walk with a loose leash between you. If your adult Mastiff were to get away from you, oftentimes, the only thing you can do is let go and let him go. Proper leash training from an early age will stop this and keep him calm and by your side.
Mastiffs are large dogs. If you have a Mastiff puppy, be prepared for him to grow quickly. A Mastiff with a harness that connects the leash to the chest rather than the back is easier to control than a Mastiff with a leash and a collar. Your Mastiff is going to need to be entertained on these walks and encouraged to continue with training sessions. High-value treats are important to bring every single time you walk your Mastiff on a leash. Schedule your training sessions with few distractions. Over time, you can increase distractions.
The No Pulling Method
Introduce the leash
Put a leash on your Mastiff and stand next to him. You may need to consider using a harness as well. A harness on a large breed dog will give you better control as you are walking him on a leash. Once the leash and harness are on, just stand relaxed next to your Mastiff.
Take one giant step away from your Mastiff puppy. This should leave some slack between you and your Mastiff on the leash.
If your Mastiff does not move when you take a giant step away from him, offer him a treat.
Take a few steps forward, encouraging your Mastiff puppy to come with you. You can use the command 'come,' call him by his name, or pat your leg, letting him know you are going to walk forward and you expect him to follow. Try to keep the slack you created on the leash loose.
If he tightens this leash, stop in your tracks because you are no longer loose leash walking and he is pulling you. Once you have stopped in your tracks your Mastiff puppy should stop with you. When he does, take a step away from him again, creating a loose leash between you and start over.
Continue practice walking that with the leash loose between you and your Mastiff. He should stay near you without tightening the leash. Remember to redirect him anytime he tightens the least between you by stopping, forcing him to stop, and then moving again.
As you and your Mastiff puppy are successful walking side-by-side together with a loose leash between you, every so often offer him a treat. This will be his encouragement to move forward without pulling on that leash. Pay close attention to the slack between you. If this tightens, stop and start over.
When you are first training your Mastiff to loose leash walk with you without pulling on the leash, keep your walk simple and short. This might mean walking from one end of a room in your home to another. As he gets used to loose leash walking and not pulling on that slack between you, take him outside and strive for longer walks.
Remember your rules and anytime the slack between you and your Mastiff is tightened, stop and start over. Always start with that giant step away from your Mastiff to create the slack between you two on his leash. Be sure your rewards are consistent and he understands he is being rewarded for walking without pulling on his leash.
The Click and Treat Method
Prepare your Mastiff
Prepare your Mastiff puppy with a harness and a leash appropriate for his size. Also, prepare a small bag of high-value treats to take on your walk with you. If you are clicker training your Mastiff, be sure to bring the clicker with you so he is rewarded with that click and treat he's used to.
Let your Mastiff puppy's leash out a bit,creating some slack on the leash. You don't want your Mastiff to pull on the leash and tighten this slack. Pay attention to the slack in the leash as you train so your Mastiff is never allowed to tighten that slack.
Before walking with your Mastiff puppy always stand still until he calms down. You can ask him to sit to calm down or you can wait patiently until he calms down. Eventually, most dogs just settle down out of boredom and curiosity. Once he is calm, click and treat and begin your walk.
Start your walk, taking a few steps forward. Wait for your Mastiff puppy to catch up with you but don't let him go too far. Be sure you are watching the slack in the leash so it's never tighter than it is when you started.
Click and treat
Every few yards, click and treat. Your Mastiff puppy should be walking with you with a loose leash and earning clicks and treats as you walk along together. As long as he is not pulling on the slack of his leash, click and treat every few yards to reward him for a loose leash walking.
Keep your walks together small at first, practicing rewarding every few yards until your Mastiff puppy understands he is being rewarded for walking with you without pulling you along.
Anytime your Mastiff puppy pulls on the slack of the leash and tightens the leash, pulling you along, stop in your tracks and begin redirection. Redirection will start with you stopping and then end once your Mastiff has stopped with you and the two of you can walk forward again together. Do not click and treat if your puppy needs to be redirected. Just carry on clicking and treating every few yards as long as he's not pulling on the leash.
The Challenge Manners Method
Leash and harness
Place your Mastiff and a leash and harness and get ready for a walk. Be prepared with lots of high value treats because you're going to use them to reward your Mastiff for doing well, as well as challenge him and entice him to make poor choices.
Stand with your Mastiff on a tight leash with some distance between you two.
Drop a treat
Drop a treat at your feet. Your Mastiff puppy should be able to close the distance between him and you by creating slack in his leash to get to the treat. Allow him to do this.
Tight leash again
Once he has the treat, tighten the leash again by taking a few steps away from him, pulling the slack out of the leash.
Repeat this several times with your Mastiff puppy, encouraging him to come and get the treat because all he has to do is put slack in the leash and come towards you.
Challenge your Mastiff puppy to step away from you on your tight leash. Toss a treat away from your Mastiff instead of dropping it between you two or at your feet. If he pulls the leash to get it, stand firm and do not let him pull you.
Once your Mastiff gives up and the leash slackens, give him a different treat. The two of you can walk to the first treat together before trying again.
Keep practicing challenging your Mastiff by dropping a treat where he can get to it without pulling and having to make the choice between pulling on his leash to get it or waiting until you let him go. Be sure to reward him for making those good choices.
Take your challenge on the trail by doing this while on a walk. Your Mastiff puppy should know by this time not to pull on the leash and should be rewarded when the leash is not tight.
Written by Stephanie Plummer
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/06/2018, edited: 01/08/2021
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