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Leash Training for Doodle Breeds: Cavoodle, Labradoodle, Groodle, and More

Updated: Jul 7

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Doodle breeds such as Cavoodles, Labradoodles, Groodles, and others are known for their friendly nature, intelligence, and often hypoallergenic coats. While these qualities make them highly desirable pets, their energy levels and curiosity can present challenges when it comes to leash training. Proper leash training is essential for the safety and enjoyment of both the dog and the owner during walks. This comprehensive guide provides step-by-step instructions, tips, and examples to effectively leash train your Doodle.

Understanding Doodle Breeds

Doodle breeds are hybrids between Poodles and other breeds, combining the best traits of both parents. Key characteristics of Doodle breeds include:

  • Intelligence: Doodles inherit the Poodle’s high intelligence, making them quick learners but also prone to boredom.

  • Energy Levels: Many Doodle breeds, especially those mixed with high-energy breeds like Labrador Retrievers or Golden Retrievers, require regular physical activity.

  • Sociability: Doodles are generally friendly and enjoy social interactions, but they can be easily distracted on walks.

  • Curiosity: Their inquisitive nature means they love to explore, which can make leash training a challenge if not handled correctly.

Understanding these traits is crucial for tailoring your leash training approach to meet the specific needs of your Doodle.

Getting Started with Leash Training

  1. Choosing the Right Equipment

  • Leash: A standard 4-6 foot leash is ideal for training. Avoid retractable leashes during the training phase as they can encourage pulling.

  • Collar or Harness: Choose a well-fitted collar or harness. Many trainers recommend a harness for Doodle breeds to prevent throat injury from pulling.

  1. Familiarizing Your Puppy with the Leash

  • Before heading outdoors, let your puppy get used to wearing a collar or harness and being attached to a leash indoors.

  • Allow them to drag the leash around to get comfortable with the sensation. Supervise to prevent them from getting tangled or scared.

  1. Positive Association

  • Associate the leash with positive experiences by rewarding your puppy with treats and praise whenever they wear the collar or harness and leash.

  • Make the initial experience short and enjoyable to build a positive association.

Step-by-Step Leash Training

  1. Starting Indoors

  • Begin leash training indoors in a distraction-free environment.

  • Encourage your puppy to walk beside you by using treats and a cheerful tone. Reward them for staying close.

  1. Teaching Basic Commands

  • Sit and Stay: Teach your puppy basic commands like “Sit” and “Stay” before moving on to leash training outdoors. These commands help in managing your puppy during walks.

  • Heel: Introduce the “Heel” command to encourage your puppy to walk beside you without pulling. Hold a treat at your side and use it to guide them into the correct position.

  1. Gradual Introduction to Outdoors

  • Once your puppy is comfortable walking on a leash indoors, gradually introduce them to the outdoor environment.

  • Start in a quiet area with minimal distractions. Allow your puppy to explore but maintain control.

  1. Dealing with Pulling

  • If your puppy starts to pull, stop walking immediately. Wait until they return to your side or the leash slackens, then proceed. This teaches them that pulling doesn’t get them where they want to go.

  • Use treats to reward your puppy for walking beside you without pulling.

  1. Using Commands on Walks

  • Consistently use commands like “Heel,” “Sit,” and “Stay” during walks to reinforce good behavior.

  • Keep training sessions short initially and gradually increase the duration as your puppy becomes more comfortable.

Tips and Tricks for Effective Leash Training

  1. Consistency is Key

  • Consistency in commands, rewards, and rules is crucial for successful leash training. Ensure all family members follow the same training protocols.

  1. Positive Reinforcement

  • Reward desired behaviors with treats, praise, and affection. Positive reinforcement encourages your puppy to repeat good behavior.

  1. Avoid Punishment

  • Avoid using punishment or harsh corrections as they can lead to fear and anxiety. Focus on positive reinforcement instead.

  1. Short, Frequent Sessions

  • Keep training sessions short (10-15 minutes) and frequent to maintain your puppy’s interest and prevent fatigue.

  1. Stay Patient

  • Patience is essential. Some puppies may take longer to learn than others. Stay calm and persistent, and celebrate small victories.

Common Challenges and Solutions

  1. Distractions

  • Solution: Start training in a low-distraction environment and gradually introduce more distractions as your puppy becomes more proficient. Use high-value treats to maintain their focus.

  1. Fear of the Leash

  • Solution: Allow your puppy to get used to the leash indoors. Gradually increase the time they spend with the leash attached, using treats and praise to create a positive association.

  1. Pulling on the Leash

  • Solution: Stop walking when your puppy pulls and only proceed when they return to your side. Consistency is key to teaching them that pulling is not rewarded.

  1. Barking or Lunging at Other Dogs

  • Solution: Use commands like “Sit” and “Stay” to manage your puppy’s behavior. Reward calm behavior and gradually desensitize them to the presence of other dogs.

Case Study: Leash Training a Labradoodle

Background: Bella, a 6-month-old Labradoodle, was excitable and pulled on the leash during walks, making walks stressful for her owner.

Steps Taken:

  1. Basic Training: Bella was first taught basic commands like “Sit,” “Stay,” and “Heel” indoors.

  2. Positive Reinforcement: Treats and praise were used to reward Bella for walking beside her owner without pulling.

  3. Gradual Introduction: Bella was gradually introduced to walking in a quiet neighborhood before moving on to busier areas.

  4. Consistency: Bella’s owner remained consistent in training, ensuring that all family members followed the same commands and rules.

Outcome: Over a few weeks, Bella learned to walk calmly on the leash, making walks enjoyable for both her and her owner.

Specific Tips for Different Doodle Breeds

  1. Cavoodles (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Poodle)

  • Tip: Cavoodles are small and may be more sensitive to leash pressure. A harness is often more comfortable and prevents neck injuries.

  1. Labradoodles (Labrador Retriever and Poodle)

  • Tip: Labradoodles are energetic. Ensure they get enough exercise before training sessions to help them focus.

  1. Groodles (Golden Retriever and Poodle)

  • Tip: Groodles are eager to please. Use their natural inclination to make them perfect candidates for positive reinforcement training.

  1. Bernedoodles (Bernese Mountain Dog and Poodle)

  • Tip: Bernedoodles can be strong pullers. Consistency in training and using a no-pull harness can help manage their strength.

  1. Sheepadoodles (Old English Sheepdog and Poodle)

  • Tip: Sheepadoodles may have a strong herding instinct. Redirect their focus during walks to prevent them from trying to herd people or other animals.


Leash training is an essential aspect of raising a well-behaved and happy Doodle. By understanding the unique characteristics of your Doodle breed and applying consistent, positive reinforcement techniques, you can successfully leash train your puppy. Remember to be patient, keep training sessions enjoyable, and gradually introduce new challenges as your puppy progresses. With time and effort, your Doodle will learn to walk calmly on a leash, making walks a pleasurable experience for both of you.

For more detailed information and resources on leash training, you can visit reputable sources such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT).

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