Tips for Training Your Dog to Walk on a Leash

Jan 22, 2024


Training your dog to walk on a leash requires time, patience, and consistency. If your dog has attended basic obedience and you are ready for a fun challenge, here are 10 tips for training your dog to walk on a leash.

We’ve all seen that dog—doesn’t matter what breed or size—calmly and confidently walking through town directly at the side of the pet parent. There’s no pulling or charging ahead with the person holding onto the leash for dear life.

That dynamic duo smoothing strolling through town or around the neighborhood can be your dog and you too.

Chances are those focused, prancing pups weren’t born perfect leash walkers—they learned that walking with mom or dad has its rewards. Training your dog to walk calmly on a leash requires time, patience, and consistency.

If time is the one thing you are short on, the training programs offered at Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center—serving the Doylestown, New Hope, Chalfont areas, and beyond—are designed for maximum results in a short time. The popular Stay & Learn and Play & Learn training programs combine a customized and concentrated curriculum with lodging amenities and fun activities.

If your dog has attended basic obedience and you are ready for a fun challenge, here are 10 tips for training your dog to walk on a leash:  

  1. Start early: Begin leash training when your dog is still a puppy. If puppyhood is a thing of the past, there’s no time like the present to get started…
  2. Positive reinforcement: Use treats and positive reinforcement to reward your dog for walking nicely on the leash.

“Teaching your dog with food luring creates focus and proper positioning of the dog for skills like sit, down, and heel,” says Mark Berkowitz, training director at Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center in Doylestown, PA.

  1. Correct equipment: Choose an appropriate leash and collar or harness. A standard flat collar or a front-clip harness can be effective. Avoid retractable leashes, especially during training.
  2. Take it slow: Start in a quiet, low-distraction environment.
  3. Short sessions: Keep training sessions short, especially in the beginning. Gradually build focus and increase the duration as your dog becomes more comfortable.
  4. Stay calm and patient: Dogs can pick up on your emotions.

“Your dog will pick up lead cues from you. Make your session together fun by playing a game. When you change direction, you are asking your dog to play a game of follow the leader,” explains Mark.

  1. Change directions: If your dog pulls ahead, abruptly–but not forcefully–change direction. This change helps the dog understand that pulling ahead of you does not result in going where he wants to go.
  2. Encourage focus: Encourage your dog to focus on you during walks. Be sure to reward your dog for looking at you.
  3. Practice in different environments: Gradually expose your dog to different environments and distractions. This helps them generalize their leash training skills to various situations.
  4. Socialize: Allow your dog to socialize with other dogs and people during walks. This helps them become more comfortable and confident.

“Many puppies and young dogs benefit by starting on the foundations of learning—either with private training lessons or enrolled in a professional training program—while participating in socialization classes,” adds Mark.

Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center offers a free Puppy Social Hour every Thursday and Friday evening for puppies up to six months old. These puppies-only classes are supervised by highly-trained staff experienced in dog behaviors, proper play, and enrichment activities.

Remember, every dog is unique, so tailor your approach to suit your dog’s personality and needs. The key to reinforcing the desired behavior is consistency in your cues and rewards. Training is as much about creating shared communication as it is about learned behaviors. If you encounter challenges, call Holiday House Pet Resort at 215-345-6960 to schedule a Training Introduction with a professional trainer.

Call Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center today to book your pet’s one-of-a-kind vacation at our luxury pet care facility!