Dog Training

How to Leash Train a Dog in 6 Steps

If your dog is constantly tugging on the leash, it's bound to put a strain on your nerves and your relationship with them.

Relaxing walks can become a nightmare without proper training. For that reason, you will have to know hot to train leash a dog beforehand.

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Table of contents

This behavior is seen more often in young puppies than in adult dogs. Puppies are more inclined to pull on the leash, as they are on a discovery tour every time they go for a walk.

▶ With consistency training, this behavior will subside after a few months. How to leash train a dog is a must to any dog owner.

You don't need any special knowledge to train your puppy to walk on a leash.

▶ As your puppy gets older, the behavior should usually improve automatically.

The situation is different with adult dogs. It's more difficult for them to improve their lack of leash manners.

Here, it takes a little more training and patience. Various reasons can be responsible for chaotic walks on a leash.

Why You Should Know How to Leash Train a Dog

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1) Certain Breeds Are Too Wild

Currently, there are already almost 350 different breeds of dogs. Some of them tend to sniff relentlessly while walking. They instinctively do this.

Typical "sniffer dogs" are, for example, the following:

  • German boxer
  • Doberman
  • Hovawart
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Rottweiler
  • Shepherd

2) Leash Manners

The typical leash pulling subsides as soon as your pet becomes a little more adult and calmer. But for this to happen, you need to acquire how to leash train a dog. 

It is not very demanding to improve the leash handling in a puppy. A consistent and loving upbringing is usually enough

The lack of leash leadership can be a consequence of bad education. Is this the case with your dog? Then you should quickly tackle the problem and improve leash walks.

3) Stress-Free Walks

Walks should take place without stress or any rush at all.

It's understandable that you have your daily work routine with obligations and schedules. Nevertheless, you should consider whether you would like to change something in this regard.

After all, walks between work and commitments install pressure and stress in a dog: they can feel your stress. 

As a result, your pet will become stressed, too. This is not good for their health, naturally. If you are stressed, this can rub off on them. Thus, your dog will also start to feel in a rush and pull on the leash.

4) Longer Walks

Too-short walks go hand in hand with stressful walks. It can happen that you, as a dog owner, don't really feel like going for a walk. 

Especially after a sleepless night or on cold days, the enthusiasm for this can quickly fade. That is also totally understandable. 

However, if the majority of walks are too short, this is often the trigger of bad leash manners.

5) Walking as a Fun Activity

Of course, it's difficult to always find exciting and new places for your dog. Still, you might want to consider taking alternative routes in the future. 

You should use at least three different routes. This is important so that your pet does not lose interest in walking with you. Monotonous walks, in fact, promote poor leash handling.

Don’t Ever Pull on the Leash!

There is one serious mistake that is counterproductive in improving leash manners. 
Even if your pet drives you crazy by their constant tugging on the leash, you must never pull them with a sudden jerk.
You can injure your dog by doing so.
What's more, you won't make your dog stop pulling, on the contrary, the tugging will only get worse this way. 

A 6-Setps Guide on How to Train Leash a Dog

Since we now have the basics on how to leash train a dog, it's time to dive how to properly make walks on a leash more exciting and fun! 
How can I improve leash handling? 
The following steps will help you in leash training.
Use a dog harness for the walks. A dog harness is much gentler on your dog's neck and spine than a collar.
The force of pulling the dog harness shifts not only puts pressure to the neck, but to the body as a whole, too.
This way, you avoid that your dog gets problems in the neck and shoulder area over time. Your pet can even get their neck sprained if they pull too hard.
Dog harness

Step 1
Make Leash Walking Fun

Many dogs associate their leash with something negative. You have to avoid this at all costs. 
To counter it, you need to add a positive reinforcer to leash walking. 
For example, you can leave the leash in the room, prepare a treat, and place them next to the leash. You can also bring the leash into play during cuddling or snuggling sessions.
Just take them in one hand and stroke your dog. There are no limits to your imagination in this area.

Step 2
Pick Quieter Places

If you have already associated the leash positively over a few days, it's time to take the practice the first walks. 

Here's what's important about this walk:

Pick a quiet place for your puppy to walk.
Too many distractions and stimuli are counterproductive to the success of an improved leash walking.

Step 3
Leash Walk Consistently

Set a slow pace and run a few laps with your dog. 

If they start pulling, you consistently stop. If they don't stop, go to the opposite direction. 

Don't do this suddenly! Be careful not to pull your dog too forcefully when changing directions.

Step 4
Add Cues

After making walks a daily activity, we need to apply safety measures.

It's time to add cues. If your dog starts pulling on the leash, use a cue, like 'leash' or 'stop' before stopping or shifting directions. Through this link, you will be able to better coordinate your pet in the future.

Step 5
Don't Forget About Treats!


Of course, rewards should not be overused. It's also key to attach treats to a sense of achievement. If not, it defeats the whole purpose of using treats as a positive reinforcer. 

That is why treats are so important when it comes to learn how to leash train a dog: you need to use them accordingly. 

Use rewards such as treats only when your pet begins to follow rules. After a while, relaxing walks on a leash will become a habit. 

Then, you must reduce the rewards. You give them to your pet only if the walk was successful as a whole, or if they didn't pull once.

Step 6:
Don't Make Leash Walking Stressful

Avoiding the above mistakes is important for successful walks. 

Always make sure that you don't jerkily pull on the leash repeatedly. Of course, there are going to be unexpected incidents where you really have no other option but to withdraw it. Under normal circumstances, no pulling! 

Don't forsake this detail if you want to train leash your dog properly. 

For this reason, it's best to avoid:

  • Monotonous walks
  • Too-short walks
  • Stressful walks
  • Inconsistency
  • Aggressive training or education methods

My Conclusion

With these tips and tricks on how to leash train a dog, you can easily improve the quality of your walks! Always make sure that you train your pet without any kind of coercion or pressure. 

Please avoid brash teaching methods as much as possible. 

If you keep all this in mind, then nothing can go wrong! Your dog and you will soon enjoy relaxing walks while using a leash. 😊

Written by Anja Boecker
Written by Anja Boecker

My name is Anja Boecker and I am a dog trainer and behavior consultant (IHK certificate). With these articles I would like to help you understand your dog better and build an inseparable bond.

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  1. Hi, should you practice leash walking with normal long or drag line?(Have a Golden Retriever mix from Corfu 1y. old ca.30Kg.)

    1. Mine from Hundeo

      Hello Inge, a drag leash is rather designed for dogs or training sessions where the aim is to train the recall with a dog from a further distance. A normal leash is perfectly sufficient for a leash leadership in the sense of "Beifuß" practice.

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