How do I train my Cairn terrier to walk on a lead December 6, 2018 14:57

How do I train my Cairn terrier to walk on a lead


With calmness, consistency and patience.  All dogs need some level of training, so although this will mainly apply to puppies, there are many dogs out there who are older and who have never been shown what to do.  For instance, there are ex breeding bitches in all the rescues who are not toilet trained, have never used a lead and do not even know how to play.  Don’t get me started on that, it is an angry rant for another time.

Your puppy will react to having a collar on lead on for the first time as if you are trying to string her up and murder her.  Pop the collar on in the house first, weeks before you venture outside, and pop the lead on too for little steps in the hall.  She will buck and prance and try and bite the lead but will quickly get used to it when the distraction of the great outdoors happens for real. 


If you are interested in owning a Cairn Terrier as a family pet, here are some other articles that you may find useful:

What toys can I give my Cairn Terrier?

Are Cairn Terriers easy to train?

How much exercise do Cairn Terriers need?


If she gets massively over excited by the sight of the collar and refuses to wear it, stand still (this may take a while) and wait for her to approach you.  It is pointless trying to chase her and lasso her because this will be seen as a game.

Do not let her play with the lead and collar, or chew and bite at it.  She must learn that these things are not toys.  Extendable leads do not make good training leads, as you do not get the close control you need with them. 

If you are trying to stop your pup from running at other dogs, it’s madness if they are able to run away ten meters from you before you can assert control.  I have also learned from years of burns on my hands, that getting a wide, fabric lead is probably best for both of you.  On a wet day, your hand will easily slip off a plastic lead end and that is not worth thinking about.

Pulling on the lead is high on the list of puppy training challenges.  You are in charge of the walk.  Only stop when YOU want to, not the dog.  Once you have walked a few hundred yards, stop for four seconds. 

If toileting hasn’t happened in that time, move on.  If the pulling is dislocating your shoulder, do a swift jerk on the lead, a loud “Don’t!” and then call pup’s name for attention then use the command ‘heel’.  Every time pup tries to speed ahead, quick jerk on lead, then try an about turn (keep dog close as you turn, use pups name, then command ‘heel’. 

Keep correcting the behaviour you do not want.  If you give up half way though the walk, pup will assume that it is in fact OK to bolt.  Therefore, although your twenty-minute walk may take considerably longer, persevere.  Dogs need to know what they can and can’t do, and Cairn’s in particular need to know who is boss. 

I don’t tend to hold with the idea that you reward good behaviour and ignore the bad behaviour.  Mother dogs correct their pups, and so should we.  Obviously the correction should be moderate.  Correction is not a punishment when done with calm authority.  If you are shouting and yanking at the lead, you have lost the battle and probably the dog’s respect. 

Overall, just keep doing the basics, and you WILL get there, however frustrating it can feel.  If your dog is well trained, she will get the best out of her life.  A badly trained dog is an unhappy dog.

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