A chihuahua stands at the edge of a lake, looking alertly off into the distance.

For many dogs, leash introduction involves snapping the leash on the dog and immediately going into the outside world. Although most dogs do figure it out, taking the time to introduce the leash can help reduce any potential anxiety.

Even if you plan to use a flexi leash later in life, never introduce the leash in this method with a retractable leash. These can bang behind the dog for the dragging portion of the introduction, giving your dog an awful fright.

Instead, you’ll want to use a plain flat leash for this. Ideally a fairly short one like a 4 footer so the dog doesn’t accidentally catch himself on things while he’s learning.

Step one: Allow dog to inspect the leash

Dogs learn with their nose. Being allowed to sniff the leash first can be a great way for them to gather information about this new item in their life. This will probably only take a few moments, but it’s an important step before snapping on that leash.

Step two: Practice object coming towards dog

Some chihuahuas become aggressive when clothing, harnesses etc. are put on them. You can help avoid this by helping build a positive association with an accessory from the very beginning. Practice bringing the leash toward your dog, and then giving them a treat once it is close. (It doesn’t have to even touch at first.)

This helps your chihuahua associate the leash approaching with something awesome. Once your dog realizes that leash is what connects them to the park, walkies, and most fun outdoor enrichment, they’ll probably be a lot more keen to wear their leash, but that comes later.

Step three: Let your chihuahua drag the leash around

Chihuahuas have very delicate throats, so its best if you do this part while your dog is in harness. Attach the leash to the harness, and let them drag the leash around the house for a short while. This essentially lets your pet know that something is there, so they’re not surprised that first time you go flooding outside.

Step four: Build leash walking skills from here!

Introducing the leash doesn’t need to take a long time, but it can help your pet have a smoother transition to leash walking. We’ll talk about how to teach your pet loose leash walking skills in a separate post. For now, use these tips to help your puppy understand the leash is nothing scary.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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