How to leash train a dog – Tips and techniques

With ample practice, you can train your dogs to become a well-mannered companion accustomed to walking with a leash.

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Imagine taking your dog out for a walk – and without your dog lunging, pulling, or overreacting to other dogs while leashed. You can teach your furbaby to behave well on a leash, and you don’t have to be an expert dog trainer to do so. Just follow this step-by-step guide on how to train your dog to walk on a leash!

What you’ll need for leash training your dog

Knowing how to train a dog to walk on a leash and having them behave while you walk them isn’t as hard as you think. Here’s what you need:  

  • Your dog’s favourite treats

  • A dog harness or dog leash with a collar 

  • Plenty of patience and praise

How long does it take to leash train a dog?

Training your dog to walk on a leash can take an average of 4 to 6 weeks, with daily training sessions of at least 5 minutes. 

Leash training your dog can take more or less time, depending on your dog’s age, temperament, and consistency of their training. Your pooch can learn how to behave well on a leash quickly if they receive regular training along with consistent praise and their favourite treats as rewards. 

To ensure your dog has consistent practice, you can hire a dog trainer or dog walker to help leash train your dog if you don’t have the time.

How to train a dog to walk on a leash

Step 1: Introducing the leash or harness

man holding a leash and giving treat to golden retriever puppy

The first step in training your dog to walk on a leash is getting them used to the collar and leash. Your doggo may not like having a foreign object placed on them, so gently put on the leash and ready your dog’s favourite toy and treats. Reward your dog with a treat and play with them for a few minutes. The trick is to have your dog associate the leash and collar or harness with food and fun!

Step 2: Teaching your dog their cues

german shepherd puppy sitting in the park and looking up at its owner

Teach your dog their “cue” in a quiet area that’s free of distractions. 

  • You can use a clicker or a word. Saying “yes” is a common cue to get your dog’s attention. 

  • Reward your dog with a treat when your dog looks at you after you use the clicker or make the sound.

  • Do this step a few times, and you’ll notice your dog turn to you and expect a treat as soon as you make the sound.

Step 3: Making your dog come to you

labrador golden retriever wearing a leash and sitting

Now, it’s time to teach your dog to come to you on cue. 

  • After using your cue sound a few times, back up a bit and extend the leash to make your dog approach you for their reward. 

  • Repeat this process until you can stand a few steps away from your pooch, and they come to you on cue. 

  • Don’t forget to reward and praise your dog with “good boy/girl!” Your praise should eventually become the “treat” your dog works to earn; In the long run, giving treats to your dog every time they come to you may make them overweight!  

Step 4: Leash training your dog indoors

Now that your dog knows to look and come to you on cue, reinforce this behaviour by putting on the leash then walking a few steps with your dog by your side. 

leash training a dog indoors

  • Make the cue sound, and don’t forget to give treats and praise as your dog responds. Do this in a room or indoor space with no obstructions or distractions. 

  • Pick the side you want your dog to walk on, and don’t switch sides in future sessions; Switching sides can confuse your dog.

Keep these practice sessions regular but short as these can be mentally exhausting for your dog. 

Step 5: Taking the leash training lessons outside

happy dog walking with a leash outdoors

After a few days of leash training your dog indoors, you can take them out for a walk. 

  • Be patient with your dog and keep the walk short. Other dogs, cars, people, and different scents are a lot for your dog to take in and process. 

  • You can expect your dog to get distracted, so use your cue word and reward them with treats and praise for behaving as they walk by your side. 

Don’t worry if you can’t take your dog for a walk every so often to ensure they get their exercise. You can always hire someone to walk your dog. If you have to leave your dog for extended periods, you can hire a pet sitter to look after them.

Also read: Your Ultimate Guide to Dog Care – Everything you need to know about caring for a dog, from grooming to training 

Is it too late to leash train my dog?

Your dog can never be too old to get leash trained. The saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” isn’t always true. Many dog trainers may say it’s best to start leash training a dog when they’re at least 12 weeks old and have had their shots. But older dogs are also capable of being leash trained. 

Give your older dog time and patience, and adapt to what motivates your dog to follow commands. Eventually, your dog will learn to walk calmly on a leash without pulling. 

Get extra help from an expert dog trainer

With enough practice, you can train your pooch to become a well-mannered companion accustomed to walking with a leash. But if you lack the time, tools, or patience to leash train your dog, you can always hire a professional dog trainer at a reasonable rate. Don’t put off your dog’s leash training; Post a task today!

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