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True to their nature, your Boxer puppy is everything you hoped he would be. He’s devoted, playful, energetic, and not short of confidence. He’s certainly not shy about sitting at your feet staring lovingly up at you when you’re eating. He’s really brought the family together and the kids never seem to get bored of playing with him. Having said all that, he doesn’t quite score full marks across the board. He’s not so well behaved when it comes to securing him to a leash and taking him for a walk. In fact, you’re forever getting pulled in every direction.
Training him to walk on a leash when he is a puppy is essential. If you don’t, you may find he’s even harder to control when he’s bigger and stronger. This training will assert your position as the pack leader and instill some much-needed discipline.
Fortunately, Boxers are intelligent dogs. This means he should be receptive to training. You will need to take a number of steps to prevent him from pulling. You will also need to use consistent obedience commands to keep him walking calmly while on a leash. The trick is finding the right incentive. Boxers, like most dogs, have a soft spot for anything they can eat. So, some tasty treats will play an important role during training.
If he’s particularly eager to please then you could see results in just a week or two. If he’s devious and not such a great listener, then be prepared to invest up to six weeks into training. Succeed with this training and you can have those relaxing strolls through the countryside you originally envisaged. Training now will also save you from considerable stress later on in life if he can’t behave on a leash.
Before you start training, you will need to go out and collect a few bits. Boxers are strong, even as puppies. So investing in a body harness may be wise. It will increase your control while reducing the strain on his neck.
You will also need a short training leash. A generous supply of tasty treats or small chunks of his favorite food will also be required. You can train when you normally take him out for walks.
Once you have all the above, just bring patience and a positive attitude, then work can begin!
The Treat Lure Method
Secure a leash to your Boxer puppy when you are at home. Then leave the leash on him for an hour or two each day. This will get him used to wearing it and should reduce the chances of him jumping up and going crazy when you put the leash on to take him out for a walk.
Head out the door with him secured on a relatively short leash. Also make sure you have a pocketful of treats with you. Try not to be too animated, you don’t want to get him too worked up. This will only make him harder to control.
As you walk, hold a treat out at his head height. Make sure he knows you have something tasty, but don’t let him get to it. This will keep him firmly at your side and hold his attention.
Walk 20 yards
Walk 20 or so yards slowly, keeping him at your side with the treat. Then stop and hand over the treat. You can also give him some verbal praise. In fact, the greater the reward, the more likely he will be to repeat the behavior again.
Increase the distance
Now carry on walking again. However, this time walk 30 yards before you hand over a treat. The time after that walk 40 yards, and so on. The trick is to gradually increase the distance. Do this each day and before he knows it he will be in the habit of walking calmly while on the leash.
The Heel Method
Quietly secure him to the leash and then head out the door. Fit him in a body harness if you have one too. Also, try not to get him too excited as you head out the door.
As soon as he walks in front of you, give a firm ‘heel’ command. You can use any word or phrase you like. Boxers are capable of learning hundreds of different commands. Just make sure you give the command in a clear voice.
As you give the command, stand still. He will eventually stop, then turn around and stare back at you confused for a while. Don’t move until he returns to your side. Eventually he will catch on.
Start walking again
Once he has returned to your side, you can start walking again. But as soon as he pulls, stop and use the command again. It’s important you only use the command once. If you repeat it, he will quickly learn he doesn’t have to respond to you first time.
Never punish him
It’s important that while you use the firm ‘heel’ command, you don’t terrify him. If you start punishing him, he may become scared and then aggressive. Boxers grow up to be extremely strong, so you need to ensure he remains even-tempered. So, stay calm throughout training.
The 180 Method
Fit the leash
Secure him to a leash and then head out for a walk as you normally would. You may want to set aside some extra time for today’s walk. Also, try and keep him on a relatively short leash.
Keep a firm grip on the leash and be ready to react. As soon as he walks ahead of you, you need to be able to take action.
As soon as he has used up the leash and walked ahead, turn around sharply and start walking in the opposite direction. This swift change of direction will signal to him that he does not get to walk where he wants if he pulls.
As you turn around, you will also need to pull him with you. Don’t pull so hard you hurt him, but make sure he follows suit. Don’t look back at him or talk to him as you do this. He needs to know you mean business.
It’s important you react like this whenever you take him out for a walk. In fact, anyone that needs to walk him needs to use the same technique. It may be frustrating walking back and forward each day, but he will soon catch on. Each time you don’t react is further back you push the end result.
By James Barra
Published: 01/30/2018, edited: 01/08/2021