Leash Training: How to Train a Dog to Walk on a Leash?

Last Updated on December, 2023

Dogs pulling the leash is a common problem that many dog owners face. As the old joke goes by, “who’s walking who”? Many of us are pulled on by the dog as it roams around on its will. 

When I bought my furry friend, it happened to me. I dreaded going on a walk as it didn’t respond to my command. So, how did it stop? Properly leash training a dog is an initial step to stopping this behavior.

Quick Summary

Leash training is important for the dog-owner relationship, preventing aggression and injuries, and complying with local laws.

Proper leash training involves holding the leash in one hand, rewarding the dog with treats, and gradually introducing distractions and environments.

The progress of leash training can vary depending on the age of the dog, with younger dogs typically responding quicker. Consistency and patience are key in successfully leash training a dog.

Why is Leash Training Important?

“During playtime, let your pooch wear its head collar and leash for brief periods while you offer him treats. By leash training and collaring the puppy, you may be able to spend more time with it than anything else.”

Dog on a leash

Train them in a distraction-free area, so it doesn’t run off or show resentment while training. In addition, leash training helps in bonding with your furry friend. However, before we proceed with how to leash train your dog, let’s look at why it’s essential to train.

  • It Can Affect Your Relationship With the Dog

You’ll probably feel frustrated the dog pulls on the leash. An untrained one is difficult to control, which may cause you to lose your temper. It can make you feel resentful about going on walks and even worse, you may lash out your anger.

It can have a negative effect on your relationship with your dog. Leash training helps in improving the relationship with your dog. (1)

  • It Stops Violence
Dog barking on a puppy

If they always feel that they must pull against their retractable leash, they might get frustrated too. You may see your dog being aggressive or simply stressed out. In this state, it can be threatening to other dogs; pay attention there!

  • Prevents Injuries
Pitbull dog pulling a leash

Your dog’s health can worsen if you are constantly pulling on their leash. Conversely, removing the leash constantly can injure their neck or put stress on their joints.

Leash training helps you understand how to hold your dog to avoid pulling and pushing to prevent any scope for injury.

  • Understanding the Fit of the Leash
Correct Fitted Harness

It is important to know what tension to use for a dog’s leash (loose or tight). You may deal with a frightened dog or one ready to fight when the leash becomes taut suddenly; stay alert.

Your dog will notice how you hold your leash when you are feeling disappointed, for example.

Related article: How to Make Invisible Dog Leash?

Dog Training Techniques

  • Teach The Dog to Walk on Loose Leash
Polite leash teaching

Leash training is about making your dog comfortable with the leash.

To leash train, a dog put the leash in one hand and fill your pocket with treats.

Then, decide which side you are comfortable walking with your dog, put the leash in the opposite hand. 

Take a small step and stop; if the dog doesn’t heel with you, then wait. It’s fine.

Keep this in repeat for a short period in both same and opposite directions and reward them frequently to train them to a walk on a leash.

Sometimes your puppy learns at a slow pace, so you need leash time to learn leash training. First, treat them with your hand; put the treat along the seam line of your pants.

Repeat this couple of times until they get comfortable and start heeling. When they get eager and look for treats, take a couple of steps before feeding them again. 

If the dog moves ahead of you or pulls forward, stop and call him back, pamper with treats, and then start the step at a slower pace. When it gets comfortable with a loose leash, call them around by “let’s have a walk” and see their response.

The American Kennel will catch this habit and respond to your action in a loose leash walk. 

A dog’s parent’s responsibility is to know any local laws related to your pet in the area and follow them. Find out about pet laws in your place by visiting the website of your local government.

Be sure to observe the dog laws applicable to your travels with your dog.

When you do not take professional assistance for heel behavior, the loose leash walking style is excellent. It simply means that your dog or puppy must remain within a four- to a five-foot distance of you while you are walking without a distraction.

Check out this video for loose leash walking training tips…

Train Your Dog to Heel at Home

When you teach your dog how to heel at home, it becomes easier for them. A comfortable, distraction-free environment is better than busy parks or the lanes you may live in. (2)

Training dog to heel
Steps to train a dog to heel at home
  • Call them by name and treat them when they come to please essential your side whenever you can.
  • Engage in conversation with and treat them when they get to your side; move forward while talking.
  • Your pup will be excited to walk next to you, anticipating the next reward as you walk with them in a while having a conversation!
  • Put on a head collar or harness when your dog gets comfortable walking on your side without a leash. 
  • When your dog becomes an expert in loose leash, then walk with the dog park or in the lane of your house.

We have a list of recommended best dog collars for pulling on our website.

How Long Does it Take to Train Loose Leash Walking?

Practice loose leash walking as a separate training exercise before you expect them to walk well in public. A loose leash is also called off-leash, as it does not involve harnessing or collaring your dog.

A typical loose-leash training session should last three to five minutes. Ideally, you can conduct 3 to 4 sessions a day.

Practice makes perfect, and the more you practice, the quicker you will see results. For example, while walking to a park or the shops, don’t learn loose leash walking while juggling multiple tasks.

It is good to set aside a specific time to train. When you give your undivided attention to them, it responds to you in a better way. 

The progress of your dog’s training will depend on their age. A 5-month puppy will respond to you more quickly compared to a 5-year-old dog.

Although an adult may not like loose leash walking, you can still do that. Being more patient and beginning teaching will help you become better.

What if your dog runs away from you? Here’s how to stop them.

Reasons Why Dog Leashes Are Important to Comply With Leash Laws

Dog leash training Law text
  • With a newly trained dog or puppy, they will learn to walk nicely.
  • Wildlife breeds in spring during the breeding season.
  • Behavioral issues or aggressive dog pull.
  • During high-traffic situations or in crowded areas the walking might be challenging.
  • You should keep your dog on a loose leash whenever you worry about it running away.

How Often Should I Leash Train My Dog?

“According to an old saying, the earlier you train your dog, the sooner it will grasp.”

The adage” the longer the training session, the better” does not follow dogs’ training. Dogs need time to train; keeping the sessions short and rewarding them for success works better than pushing them to train for hours. 

Training a dog for obedience, service, police work, or the military typically takes one or more hours per day. However, dogs need time, and they learn gradually, so too much training will make them resentful even when involved in fun activities.

Research shows that this may be detrimental to the dog’s learning process, slowing down learning instead of accelerating it. However, it may even be beneficial for dogs if the dog is not trained every day.

When you educate the dog once a week, they learn quickly compared to five times a week.

Get Your Dog Used to Heeling

Training dog to heal

The heel training method is another way of training a dog.

This technique always has your dog walks by your side, either left or right, depending on your personal preference.

You need to make sure your dog keeps pace with yourself and stops when you do.

If your dog has to remain nearby in special circumstances, use heeling.

They may not move and exercise as much on their daily walks with a collar.

It is similar to loose-leash training your dog, and heel training requires your dog to stay close to you at all times:

  • By offering your dog a tasty treat, you can get him to go to your left or right side in your free time. Whenever they are close to you, be sure to reward them.
  • The easiest way to keep your dog by your right or left side is to reward him frequently.
  • Lure your dog once more with a treat and then reward them when they come to you.
  • You should reward your dog frequently at the side of your path as you start walking – but only when he is by your side. Do not reward your dog if he gets off your side but bring him back to your site and make the dog learn.
  • Add some variety to the mix. For example, consider increasing your dog’s speed or stopping at random – and only reward them when they are at your side.
  • You can teach your dog to heel as soon as they consistently stay at your side. Then, reward your dog for following you once you say it. 
  • Once you’re done, ask your dog to let you know it’s over and toss a treat in another direction.
  • Continue practicing your dog’s heeling outdoors until they master it. 

You Should Teach Reactive Dogs to Stay on a Leash (BAT)

Dog stress level

A dog trainer specializing in reactivity developed Behavior change Training (BAT) helps to rehabilitate reactive dogs and prevent their future reactivity.

BAT leash work is popular among dog trainers as it allows your dog the space and freedom to use their innate body language to work through potentially scary situations.

In addition, experts have found that proactive leash training builds confidence and resilience in my dog and clients.

It is a great way to ensure your dog or a new puppy uses its natural abilities to handle stressful situations in a safe environment without distraction. It is the most effective of the three techniques, as it allows your dog to explore and sniff naturally.

A Few Basic Tips

Leash training dogs requires considering the individual dog you are working with and how the dog responds to what you are teaching him. A few training sessions per week using 5 to 15 minutes intervals should produce excellent results for most pet dogs.

Make sure you give your dog several breaks during one-hour classes if you take it to them.

Trying to keep his attention for an hour won’t work. Instead, stop the training and give him a brief break whenever you see the dog switching off, losing concentration, or reducing performance.

Even though it’s nice to end on a positive note, it’s useless to force a tired or distracted dog to do another exercise, as that will hamper the learning process of loose leash walking.

If you train your dog at a young age, it will be more effective than starting it later. You can actually start dog training or a puppy leash walking on a leash at four to six weeks.

While puppies are quick to learn with focus, teaching an old one the new tricks can be a bit more difficult (although not impossible).


When leash training your dog, you can use these techniques to make your walking more enjoyable and strengthen your relationship with them! The more exercise a dog gets, the calmer, happier, less anxious, and less destructive it becomes.

Walking with them is a great way for you to bond, so get out there and practice! Make the most of your dog training!



  1. https://time.com/5342964/human-bond-dog-thoughts/
  2. https://www.thelabradorsite.com/teaching-a-dog-to-heel/

Was this article helpful?

Photo of author
Thomas Villalpando is the main author of IPet Guides. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. You can find more about him here.

Leave a Comment