How to train a dog to walk on a leash?

Training your dog to walk on a leash is a crucial skill that requires patient guidance and positive reinforcement.

Many dog owners assume that walking politely on a leash is an innate skill for dogs. However, like any other behavior, leash walking is a skill that requires training.

Teaching your dog to walk on a leash is not only essential for your convenience but also ensures a pleasant and controlled walking experience. 

Here we will discuss expert tips on how to train a dog to walk on a leash.

Introducing the Puppy to Collar and training leashes for dogs

Start the training process by acquainting your puppy with the collar or harness and leash. Allow the puppy to wear them for short periods indoors, associating this time with play and treats. This creates a positive association with collar-and-leash time, making it enjoyable for the puppy.

Acquainting Your Puppy with Collar and Leash

Begin the training process by introducing your puppy to the collar or harness and leash. This should be a gradual process to ensure the puppy associates these accessories with positive experiences. Allow your puppy to wear the collar and  dog training leash for short periods indoors, creating a connection with playtime and treats. This positive association lays the foundation for an enjoyable collar-and-leash experience.

Teaching a Cue for Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a key element in leash training. Introduce your puppy to a sound cue that signals the arrival of a treat. This cue could be a click, a verbal affirmation like "yes," or even a distinctive clucking sound. In a quiet and distraction-free environment, make the sound, and when your puppy turns towards you, reward them with a treat. Consistent repetition of this process helps the puppy associate the cue with the joy of receiving treats.

Encouraging Your Puppy to Come to You

Building on the positive reinforcement, encourage your puppy to come to you while wearing the training leash and collar. As the puppy approaches, back up a few paces and reward them upon reaching you. Gradually increase the distance, ensuring the puppy willingly comes to you upon hearing the cue. It's crucial to keep training sessions short, concluding them while the puppy remains eager to continue.

Practicing Indoors

To further solidify the training, move the sessions indoors. Take a few steps in a room with minimal distractions, allowing the puppy to acclimate to the feeling and sight of the leash. Offer treats and praise as the puppy becomes comfortable coming to you, reinforcing the positive association with leash-wearing.

Transitioning to Outdoor Walking

Once your puppy has mastered indoor walks, it's time to venture outdoors. Outdoor walks present new challenges with various sounds, smells, and sights. Begin with short walks and be mindful of any signs of distraction or potential lunging. If your puppy seems about to lose focus, use the cue sound and move a few steps away before rewarding. This helps redirect their attention and reinforces positive behavior.

Leash-Training Troubleshooting

Dealing with Pulling

Pulling on the leash is a common challenge faced by dog owners during walks. To address this behavior, employ the "Tree" technique. When your dog starts pulling, become a "tree" by standing completely still. Avoid yanking or dragging, as this can create discomfort and stress for your dog. By staying still, you send a clear signal that pulling doesn't lead to forward movement.

For added support, consider using front-hook harnesses or head halters specifically designed for dogs prone to pulling. These tools redirect your dog's attention and discourage pulling without causing harm. Gradually, your dog will associate loose leash walking with forward movement, promoting a more enjoyable walking experience.

Addressing Lunging

Lunging, especially towards stimuli like other dogs, can be challenging to manage during walks. Proactive intervention is key to addressing this behavior. If your dog tends to lunge, be prepared with treats to redirect their attention. Increase the distance between your dog and the triggering stimulus while providing treats to reinforce positive behavior.

Staying alert during walks allows you to anticipate potential triggers and take preventive measures. By intervening before your dog lunges, you can redirect their focus and create positive associations. Consistent reinforcement and gradual exposure to stimuli will help reduce lunging behavior over time.

Managing Barking

Barking at other dogs or stimuli is a common behavior exhibited during walks. To manage barking, ensure your dog receives sufficient mental and physical stimulation. Engage your dog in activities that challenge their mind, such as puzzle toys or obedience training, before walks.

When your dog starts barking, redirect their attention by offering treats. Encourage them to focus on you, creating a positive association with remaining calm. Consistency is key in reinforcing this behavior. Over time, your dog will learn that quiet behavior is rewarded, contributing to a quieter and more enjoyable walking experience.

Gradually, you'll reduce the reliance on treats, fostering good leash-walking behavior. Always keep treats on hand to reinforce positive behavior randomly. Consistent and positive reinforcement will lead to a well-behaved, leash-trained dog, enhancing your walking experience.


How do you train a dog to walk on a leash beside you?

To train a dog to walk beside you on a leash, use positive reinforcement. Start by introducing the leash and collar indoors, associate them with positive experiences, and teach a cue for treats. Encourage your dog to walk beside you, rewarding good behavior. Gradually transition to outdoor walks, reinforcing the desired behavior with treats.

How do I get my dog to stop pulling on the leash?

To stop your dog from pulling on the leash, use a front-hook harness or head halter. When your dog pulls, stop and stand still, avoiding yanking. Redirect their attention with treats when they walk without pulling. Consistency is key; reinforce loose-leash walking and gradually reduce treats as your dog improves.

Should you let your dog sniff while walking?

Yes, allowing your dog to sniff while walking is beneficial. Sniffing is a natural behavior that provides mental stimulation and engages the senses. It's a form of enrichment, so giving your dog some freedom to explore scents during walks contributes to their overall well-being.