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How to train a dog to walk on a leash? 6 Reasons to Use a Dog Leash

Updated by Sheryl on Oct 14, 2021

You see your neighbor's dog walking on a leash like the most well-behaved dog and wonder what's wrong with your pup? Well, his dog wasn't born that way. There is some real training behind that leash walking.

Leash training can be given to dogs of any age, size, and breed. You must be able to take your dog outside to exercise, poop, and socialize without creating any mess. Obeying the leash law ensures safety for both you and your dog and everyone around you.

But above all, it's important to know the right techniques for training a dog to walk on a leash. Only then will you enjoy every moment you spend with your dog outside.

walk dog with leash
  • 6 Reasons to Use a Dog Leash
  • How to train a dog to walk on a leash
  • Some Common Leash Walking Problems and Tips

Your dog may be the most well-behaved in the world but are you sure the person walking towards you with two dogs has them under control? Here are 6 good reasons you should always use dog leads and collars:

  1. A leash is like your dog's lifeline. Obeying the lash law can save your and your dog's life from unfortunate accidents, animal bites, and wildlife attacks.
  2. Leashing your dog can also stop him from trespassing on your neighbor's property.
  3. The dog leash will prevent the dog from jumping onto people you encounter while walking. You can keep him from chasing cats, squirrels, or other animals.
  4. The chances of contracting killing diseases are greatly reduced when your dog is under control.
  5. Leash is also an identification that your dog has an owner. If you and your pet ever get separated, the leash identification tag can help you reunite with your furry friend.
  6. A well-behaved dog also reflects his owner's positive impact.
walk dog with leash

Leash training should also start in a step-by-step manner.

Step 1 - Find the right leash and collar

The first step of any leash training is to find the right equipment for your dog. The collar shouldn't be too tight to make him uncomfortable or too loose that he escapes. For beginners, a leash that is 4 to 6 feet long is considered standard.

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Step 2 - Make the dog comfortable around the leash

After you have found the perfect leash for your dog, let him be familiar with it. Get your puppy's attention by giving him treats or his favorite toy and then put the leash on, so wearing the leash becomes his second nature.

Step 3 - Teach him to respond to verbal cues

This step involves teaching your dogs some verbal cues. This is the tough part. So, be patient, especially if you are training a puppy. Teach them a cue which means he will be offered treats. You can say "yes” or "good” or click your tongue. Some people also use a clicker. While your dog is on his leash, make the sound. As soon as your dog responds to the sound, reward him with treat.

Step 4 - Practice

Practice step not until your dog spontaneously responds to the cues. Decide on which side you will be walking your dog. Whichever side you are comfortable with, make sure you keep treats on that side.

Step 5 - Randomly walk around the room or in the yard

While your dog is still wearing his leash, make the sounds, he should come running towards you. Make him walk with you a few steps and offer treats for every step he takes and praise him, saying "good boy” or "well done.” This will make your dog follow you more.

dog indoor leash training

Step 6 - Let him sniff or wander a bit

He may need to relieve himself for some time. After a few minutes of break, say "come on,” if he catches up with you, reward him with a treat and say "good boy.” If he doesn't come to you, gently pull the leash, but do not force him. Praise him as he catches up with you, and now you will be offering treats after he takes a couple of steps with you.

Step 7 - Make him walk beside you

Keep practicing with the leash on until your dog stays beside you most of the time. When he goes off direction, make sure he will run back to you as soon as you say, "let's go.” Give tiny amounts of treats at this stage. And keep the sessions short to keep the training fun, not mentally exhausting for your dog.

Step 8 - Try walking in different manners

Walk extra slow, extra fast, and change directions to see if he follows you. Reward him if he continues walking beside you while you walk differently than usual. Don't reward him as frequently as before. Reward him only when he pays attention to the changes.

Step 9 - Take him outside

When you have successfully made it through the steps mentioned above, it's time for your dog to venture outside. You will be following the same techniques you followed inside the house, but now you will face new challenges- the overwhelming smells, people, other dogs, cats, squirrels.  It's easy for any dog to get distracted. Say "let's go” and praise him, saying "good boy,” and feed him tiny treats as he walks beside you. Keep the first few outdoor walks short.

Step 10 - Prevent your dog from pulling

It's also common for dogs to pull. If your dog is pulling you or tries lunging towards something, distract him with treats. If he ignores you, stop, don't move, don't talk. Turn him around and walk in the opposite direction. Reward him with an extra treat if he follows your command.

dog outdoor leash training
  1. Use a front-clip leash if your dog pulls. It reduces the amount of pressure from your dog's side.  Stop when he pulls, stand still, and don't try to pull your dog back. Don't move until your dog looks back at you. As he looks back, reward him with a treat. Repeat as he tries to pull again.
  2. Let your dog sniff abound. Dogs are born to sniff, and it's a good mental exercise for them. Even if it means a very slow walk, let them sniff around a bit between the walks.
  3. Remember you lead while you both walk. Your dog has to follow your directions while walking by your side, not ahead of you. If your dog crosses in front of you, stamp your feet or say "stop” to make him pay attention to your lead.
  4. If your dog is overreactive to other dogs, maintain distance. Not all dogs are friendly. Give him treats before he gets to bark. This way, you can drive his attention towards you from the passing dog or other animals.
  5. If your dog is lagging far behind you, it may be because he is nervous or not feeling well. In this case, gently pull the leash and give cues in an upbeat tone like "come on”, "let's go”. Give your dog lots of encouragement and reward him with an extra treat as he walks beside you.
  6. Bring enough water for your dog, and always make sure he's wearing his identification tag on his collar.
dogs leash training
Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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