Leash Training a Puppy
To Walk Calmly

Leash training a puppy to walk calmly by your side will avoid many problems associated with a dog that pulls on the leash. I'm sure it's not just me that doesn't want to be yanked along by their pooch.  Big or small, dogs that pull hurt and can cause dangerous situations.  If you're not convinced, take a look at just a few problems you can expect if your pup grows up to be a dog that pulls on the leash:

Leash training a puppy not to pull like this.

Problems With Dogs That Pull

  • It feels like your arm is being pulled out of it's socket
  • You can get cuts, blisters, and sores on your hand
  • You can be pulled to the ground
  • Difficult to walk in populated areas
  • You loose control of the dog (very dangerous if near traffic)
  • Collars and leashes can snap at the worse possible moment
  • Leash can be pulled out of your hands and your dog could run off
  • Collars can damage a dog's neck and throat (when pulling)
  • Many harnesses enable dogs to pull harder
  • Often results in not walking the dog
  • A relaxing walk will turn into an exhausting walk

Walking your dog can be a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable experience or, if you have a "puller", it will be nothing of the sort.  In fact, it'll feel like a nightmare every time you take your dog out.  If you don't want to deal with a puller, you just need to do one simple thing....Teach your puppy to walk by your side on a loose leash. 

I know it sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many people don't realize that this is something that you actively need to teach your dog.  You see, most dogs don't naturally want to walk calmly by your side.  Especially a pup.  In fact, most pups (and dogs) prefer to run everywhere very quickly.  And that's simply why they pull.They just want to get to where their going.

It's your job to change their thinking and give them something to be motivated about by being by your side.  At first, that is.  Once walking calmly is a learned behavior it becomes habit.

Because each dog (and person) learns differently, it's useful to have a few methods to try. Here are 4 methods that teach your dog to walk on leash without pulling.

Preparation for Leash Training a Puppy

No matter which method you use, you should also do the following:

  • Load up with lots of tasty treats. Use something that is soft and meat-based, not biscuit.
  • Practice indoors first without a leash and with no distractions.
  • Do not use an extendable leash when leash training a puppy.
  • Practice with a 6' regular leash that is long enough to create some slack.
  • Always use a flat buckle collar or harness.
  •  No choke chains, prong collars, and definitely no shock collars.

Method 1 - Leash Training a Puppy

Before you start this method, teach your puppy to respond to a specific sound. It can be anything, tapping your leg, clicking your tongue, clapping, or whatever you want. Just be consistent and get your puppy to look at you when you make the sound. 

You can achieve this by pairing the sound with a treat until your puppy looks at you every time you make the sound. Puppies are naturally curious so will usually look in the direction of a new sound.

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Now, make your sound and praise heavily when he looks in your direction (don't give a treat yet).
Take a couple of paces back and your pup should follow for his treat.

Walking backwards and treating your puppy when it follows helps to leash train.

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If he does, bingo! Give him his treat. He has just learned his first step in leash training a puppy - to follow you every time you make your sound.

Repeat this exercise 5 or 6 times in all different directions and until your puppy is consistently following you for his treat.

Adding the Leash

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You are now ready to add a leash but before you go outside, practice in a place without distractions, your backyard is a good place to start.

Continue with the above exercise exactly the same as you did before but make sure that you keep a loose leash. Your puppy should continue to follow you as he did with the previous exercise.

Once you have done this indoors, or in your backyard, 5 or 6 times you are ready to leave your house/yard and start leash training a puppy outside but choose a quiet place first.

Outside the House

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Again, load up with lots of treats and have them where they are easy to access.

Put your pup on a leash and go outside.

The second the leash goes tight. STOP.

Now, wait for a couple of seconds and don't move an inch and don't say anything.

Now make your chosen sound.

When your puppy starts to turn his head towards you, give lots of praise.

Now, take a couple of paces backwards and your puppy should follow.

If he follows, give him a treat and praise him.  If not, make your sound.

Now, repeat this in a different direction.

Again, stop immediately the leash goes tight and repeat these steps.

It's important to go slowly when training a puppy on leash. This means that your puppy learns that you never go forward when he pulls, or even when the lead goes tight.

If that method doesn't work, you can try this:

Method 2 for Leash Training a Puppy

This method is based on keep changing directions.  Again use a flat buckle collar and have plenty of tasty treats. 

Begin walking forward together and the minute the leash starts to go tight, both you and the pup change direction.  Basically you walk in the opposite direction to your pup and have him follow you.  As soon as he catches up to you and is by your side (with a loose leash) give him a treat. 

If the leash goes tight, turn around again and walk in the opposite direction and just repeat the above.  You can change it up by going in all different directions (left, right, diagonal) as long as you don't go in the direction your pup wants to pull you to. 

This method is pretty simple and many dogs get it quickly.  It teaches them that the more they try to go in one direction, it has the opposite effect. They start to anticipate that you're going to change direction and stay by your side more.  Some dogs don't get this at all and you end up going in circles!  If you find that happening then choose one of the other methods.

Still Not Working?

If you're still having trouble with leash training, you can try another couple of methods on page 2 along with some more information as below:

  • Method 3 - Back Ups
  • Method 4 - Using a Long Line
  • Where to Practice Leash Training a Puppy
  • What Doesn't Work
  • Wrap Up

Go to page 2 now.