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How to Train Your Dog to Walk Nicely on a Leash

Learn how to train your dog to walk nicely on a leash.

Does your dog walk you instead of the other way around? Is it causing you to avoid walking your dog? Don't worry; your dog can be taught to act mannerly on a leash, saving your shoulder and improving your relationship.

Why Should You Teach Your Dog Leash Manners?

All dogs should have basic leash training. Even if your dog is small and it doesn't particularly bother you that he pulls, there are good reasons to train him not to. A dog that pulls on the leash might escape, injure you by pulling you over an obstacle or causing you to trip, or cause trouble by bounding up to other dogs or people.

Even if you don't walk your dog on a leash too much because you have lots of property for off-leash running, you will need to take your dog to the veterinarian sometimes, so teaching good leash walking etiquette is still crucial.

Positive Reinforcement Works Best for Leash Training

As is the case with anything you are training your dog to do, positive reinforcement works better than negative. Instead of thinking of leash training as teaching your dog not to pull, think of it as teaching him to walk next to you.

Start your training indoors, where there won't be distractions for your dog. Gradually work up to outdoor work and eventually training with the full distractions that occur on a walk.


To do that, you will need to reward your dog for paying attention to you, staying close, and listening. You won't need to focus on training him not to pull when you are teaching him instead how wonderfully rewarding it is to walk calmly next to you. As much as you can, focus on ignoring the pulling, redirect your dog to pay attention to and follow you, and use praise for that behavior.

Teach Your Dog to Pay Attention to and Follow You

To learn good leash manners, your dog must be taught to follow your lead when he is leashed. To teach this, use tasty treats and lots of praise. First, put the leash on your dog and ask him to sit facing you. Give him a treat and praise for doing so. Then, back up a few paces, ask him to follow you, and reward him with praise and a treat when he does.

Continue to practice this for a while, encouraging eye contact and having your dog follow you. Eventually, you can turn and walk forward, still encouraging eye contact and staying close to you. In the beginning, use lots of treats and praise as reinforcement. Over time, use less treats, but remember to continue to employ praise routinely.

A Quick Trick If You Need It

If you need a quick trick to use when you are out on a walk and your dog is pulling and not paying attention to you, try this:

  • Stop moving and stand as solidly as you can.
  • Don't pull or jerk back on your dog, and don't speak.
  • Wait for your dog to turn and look at you, then call him to you and praise him.
  • Continue on.

Hopefully, this will "reset" the situation and remind your dog to pay attention to your directives and movements, reinforcing that he won't be allowed to walk if he's pulling.

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