Dog Pulling On Leash Training: How To Walk A Dog That Pulls

Leash Training a Puppy or Dog

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Do you want to know how to teach your dog to walk on a leash so that he will happily walk alongside you, stopping when you stop, turning when you turn, and continuing past other dogs and people? He doesn’t pull on the leash, and he only sniffs and goes potty when you give him a chance. Leash training a puppy is probably the most difficult thing you’ll ever teach him, but it’s a lot of fun and well worth the effort! Begin reading to learn how to make this vision a reality.

Prior to Puppy Leash Training

A head collar or front-attachment harness can help your dog stop pulling, but leash training is required to learn your dog to walk alongside you without pulling. A front-attachment harness is a no-pull device that is safe and easy to use for all dogs. For dogs with aggressive tendencies or for those who require the most amount of control, such as a small owner with a giant-breed dog, a head collar is the best option.

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Gigo is wearing an Easy Walk front-attachment harness (right) and a Comfort Trainer head collar (left).

Use only the front-attachment harness and head collar with leashes that are no longer than 6 feet long. If the leash is too long, he may be able to get going quickly enough to injure himself if he hits the end of the leash abruptly.

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Stop and Reward

Stop moving forward when your puppy pulls on the leash and reward him with treats when he walks alongside you. In the training process, a treat bag for your waist can be very helpful. If your dog isn’t interested in food treats, you can replace them with a tug toy, chew toy, or a ball toss.

Step by Step Dog Leash Training

More information on how to train a dog to walk on a leash politely can be found in the steps below.

Step 1: I enjoy going for walks with my human!

  • Begin leash training a puppy by attaching him to a long rope or leash that is 10–20 feet long (but not retractable) and wearing a standard harness. Use a familiar outdoor area like your backyard with some pea-sized pieces of fresh meat or cheese to use as a reward for your dog.
  • Decide whether you want your dog to walk on the left or right side of you (left is traditional). Regardless of which side you choose, you’ll feed him his treat reward right next to your thigh on that side. He’ll start to gravitate toward that side because that’s where the tasty treats appear!
  • Run around your yard briskly and at random. Whenever your dog chooses to walk alongside you, praise him and reward him with a treat next to your preferred side’s thigh. Reward him for each step you take together if he continues walking alongside you. You won’t need to reward him as frequently as he improves. Take your dog inside if he is completely uninterested in you, and try again later when he is a little more hungry.
  • Practice leash training with your puppy until he is consistently staying beside you.
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Gigo is walking alongside me. By my side

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I’m feeding Gigo a treat

Step 2: It’s Worth My Time to Keep an Eye on Where My Human Is Going and Follow Along!

  • Begin leash training a puppy by walking a few steps around your yard. Wait until your dog is walking away on his own or has fallen behind to sniff or go potty. Slap your thigh a few times to make sure he notices you, then turn and walk away from your dog, saying “Let’s go” in a cheerful tone.
  • When he finally catches up to you, praise him and feed him a treat next to your preferred side. If he stays with you while you walk, feed him a treat every couple of steps. Give him an extra reward if he catches up to you quickly.
  • If the leash is too tight and he doesn’t approach you, stop walking and gently apply the leash. The leash pressure is intended to serve as a gentle reminder of your presence and to make it slightly unpleasant for him to ignore you, rather than to compel him to approach you. Once he starts approaching you, praise him and let go of the pressure. When he finally catches up to you, praise him and feed him a treat next to your preferred side. If he stays with you while you walk, feed him a treat every couple of steps.
  • Continue to practice this step of leash training a puppy in your yard until he is staying by your side most of the time, and if he veers away from you, he returns to your side after you say “let’s go.”
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“Let’s go,” he says as he walks away.

Step 3: I Know When It’s Time to Smell the Roses (Or Pee On Them).

  • When leash training a puppy, they need time to sniff and relieve themselves while on the leash, but deciding when that will happen will help them learn better manners. Instead of giving a food reward every 5 minutes when you’re practicing how to train a dog to walk on a leash, say something like “go sniff” and let him sniff around or go potty while he’s on the leash. If he pulls on the leash during this time, say “let’s go” and walk in the opposite direction, effectively ending the free time.
  • Say “let’s go” and begin walking when you’re ready to end your free time.
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A sniff break has been granted!

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Step 4: I Must Pay Close Attention to Where My Human Is Going!

  • Practice dog leash training in your yard, but with a shorter leash, as in steps one through three. Reduce the leash length to 6 feet over time.
  • When leash training a puppy, practice walking extra fast or slow, as well as stopping and changing directions. If he can stay by your side during these challenges, reward him.
  • Start rewarding him less frequently for walking alongside you in normal situations. Continue to praise him for staying by your side when you walk faster or slower than usual, stop or change directions, or come across a distraction such as another animal or person.

Taking Out On The Street

  • When leash training a puppy in the neighborhood, you’ll use the same techniques you used in your yard, but there will be more distractions and challenges, such as friendly strangers, squirrels, and other dogs. For added control, consider wearing a front-attachment harness or wearing a head collar, as well as bringing fresh meat or cheese to use as treats.
  • Started walking after saying “let’s go.” Say “let’s go” and turn and walk in the opposite direction if he forgets about you or pulls. When he walks alongside you, reward him with treats. When it’s especially difficult for him to pay attention to you, make sure to reward him with extra treats. When leash training a puppy, don’t forget to give permission for sniff breaks.

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During leash training, put your dog to the test.

  • When leash training a puppy, make sure your dog is wearing a standard harness with a 6-foot leash.
  • Hold your dog’s leash and toss a ball or treat 20 feet away from you and your leashed dog.
  • Say “let’s go” and turn and walk in the opposite direction if he pulls toward the object. Let him keep walking toward the object until he gets there. Then, if he walks with you, he can take it as his reward.
  • At first, you might want to use a longer leash or a less appealing object to make him out.

TROUBLESHOOTING

  • When leash training a puppy, if the dog crosses in front of you, stomp or shuffle your feet a little to draw attention to yourself.
  • If he’s lagging behind a lot, he might be scared or sick, so instead of pulling him along, give him lots of encouragement. If he’s taking too long to sniff or potty, simply keep walking, but apply only light pressure to the leash. When you’re walking with him, don’t forget to use a lot of rewards.
  • If your puppy seems to alternate between walking beside you and pulling after you’ve practiced these steps for leash training a puppy, stop rewarding him for coming back towards you after he pulls. Rather, concentrate on rewarding him for taking more consecutive steps alongside you.

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How to Train a Dog to Heel and Walk on a Leash

  • Training a puppy to heel on a leash is useful for short periods of time when you need him to be close to you and focused on you. It can be extremely helpful when walking him past potential distractions, such as other animals.
  • Start practicing at home how to train a dog to walk on a leash and heel. Place a treat in your fist and give it to him to sniff. “Let’s go,” you say, and take a few steps forward, holding the treat in your fist near your thigh. When he follows your fist with his nose, praise him and give him a treat.
  • Now try having your dog follow your empty fist around the practice. Continue to praise and reward him for every couple of steps he takes in the direction of your fist.
  • Continue to practice heels with each session, raising your standards. Your closed fist will remain as a “heel” hand signal. Experiment with this outside and in more distracting situations.

I hope you found this article on how to train a dog to walk on a leash helpful in making your walks with your dog more enjoyable. Check out our dog leash training aids, puppy supplies, treats, and other fun dog items!

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