How to Train a Dog to Walk on a Leash

Most dogs need 1-2 walks per day differing in duration, depending on your pet’s age, condition and any health needs it might have. In addition to taking good care of your dog’s health, walking your dog can also be a great way for you and your pet to bond, plus you get some fresh air and exercise into the bargain as well.

If you have a puppy, a younger dog or even an older dog who has little experience of being walked on a leash, you may find this process challenging to start with. Knowing how to train a dog to walk on a leash takes time, patience and practice - but eventually your daily walks with your dog will become something you both can enjoy. Here’s our guide on how to get started.

Essential Equipment

While a few optional extras (such as treat pouches to avoid getting crumbs in your pocket) can be handy, there are a few basic things you will need before walking your dog. These include:

● A collar and leash (ideally a fixed-length leash and - if you prefer evening walks - an illuminated collar).
● A suitable harness (this can help to prevent your dog from pulling on the lead)
● Poop bags
● Some tasty treats


When Should I Start Walking A Puppy?

For puppies, socialising is a key part of their development - yet pre-vaccinated younger animals have vulnerable immune systems that make them susceptible to infection. According to the Blue Cross, it’s best to compromise: when teaching your puppy to walk, keep them away from other dogs before they are vaccinated by walking them in quieter locations, and offer plenty of play at home (making sure any spaces including gardens are puppy-proofed).

Once they are fully vaccinated, you can begin taking them for short walks (1-2 five minute sessions to start with) After this point you can add an additional five minutes for each month . Choose a soft surface such as grass, as this is easier on their developing joints and bones. As with dogs at any other age, be vigilant for any potential dangers including other, temperamental dogs and untrustworthy strangers.


At first, it’s best to begin training indoors so as to minimise distractions and to keep your dog safe. Once they are ready to begin training in more distracting environments, adjust the rate of positive reinforcement to ensure your pet remains motivated.

As with any form of dog training, the key is to be patient and never to punish or shout at your dog, as this can make your pet fearful of you and can even lead to unwanted behaviour. Consistency is also key: make sure everyone in your household uses the same cues and techniques to avoid confusing your dog and to reinforce positive behaviour.

Loose-leash walking is a key skill to learn when learning how to walk a dog on a leash. This can make walking around public places easier, so it’s worth taking the time to teach them how. Here is our step-by-step guide on how to walk a dog on a leash.

Loose-leash Training

1. Holding your treats in your right hand and walk with a loose grip on the leash in your left (but not so loose as to let it slip). Use the treats to guide your dog around to the right side of you so that you’re both facing in the same direction with the leash crossing your body diagonally. Treat your dog.

2. If your dog attempts to move away, tempt them back to your side with another treat, and one more for staying. If you prefer your dog to be to the left of you, you can swap sides when following these instructions.

3. Next, with your dog in the starting position, let them sniff the treats in your hand before raising it to your shoulder and giving a command such as “heel” (you can use an alternative, but be sure to keep it clear, simple and consistent so your dog understands).

4. Repeat this step, adding a treat as a reward when your dog obeys the cue. If your dog pulls or moves away, do not react or tug on the leash to move them - simply lure them back again with a treat.

5. Gradually phase out the use of treats by increasing the number of steps you take before rewarding your dog.


To encourage your dog to walk by your side (for example if there is an approaching cyclist or another dog), bring them back to your side and offer the cue “heel”. If they respond positively, repeat the same positive reinforcement method as previously with their treats.

Off-Duty Walks

For more casual walks where it isn’t necessary for them to “heel”, you can teach your dog to walk “off-duty” using an alternative cue. Again - keep it simple, but different from your formal walk cue. The only rule here is that they cannot pull forward - so reinforce this by stopping, standing still and calling them back before continuing on.

Troubleshooting Tips

If you (and your pet) are finding the process a bit of a strain, not to worry - it’s perfectly normal for there to be some challenging parts when learning how to train a dog to walk on a leash. Here’s a few common issues and how to resolve them:

● Over-excitement: if the “W” word over-excites your dog, try to avoid using it and instead calmly ask them to sit while you put the leash on.

● You’re always in a rush: if you find you’re in a hurry, try to schedule the walk for a less-busy time of day, or consider hiring a registered dog walker.

● Lunging: this can appear alarming to others, even if your dog is “just being friendly”. Be alert, quickly redirect their attention and increase the distance between yourself and the “target”.

● Health and behavioural issues: if you notice your dog is physically struggling or is nervous while you are out, seek advice from your vet.

Get Stocked Up For Your Dog Today

For more training tips, why not browse our website, where you’ll also find a huge range of products on offer to help care for your pet, from large dog beds for slumbering giant breeds to dog nail clippers for when they’re in need of a “pawdicure”.




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