How to Train a Pit Bull Puppy to Walk on Leash

Easy
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Your little Pit Bull bundle of joy is gorgeous! He’s like a squashy ball of love. You’re looking forward to taking him on long walks through the countryside, or maybe even just a stroll to the corner shop. But before you can do all of this, your little Pit Bull has to learn how to walk on a leash. Many dogs naturally want to pull on the lead, run in circles or try to fight it. It’s not that he hates the leash, it’s just that he’s not used to it. A little bit of training and you’ll have him walking by your side like a champ!

Pitbulls can look scary to some people when they are grown up. You may love your little one, but you need to make sure he is trained well so that members of the public who don’t know his personality can be comfortable. 

Defining Tasks

It’s important to make sure that your pup can walk on a leash until he is fully trained in other areas. Until he can come back when called and knows to stay within a reasonable distance to you, he cannot be let off the leash. You wouldn’t want him running away and not coming back! Therefore, it all starts with him learning how to walk comfortably alongside you.

This is a skill which takes a bit of practice rather than serious doggy school. You should be able to train this behavior within a matter of weeks. Using the leash regularly will help him understand what it feels like. To get him to walk alongside you on the leash, you’ll need to use the command ‘heel’. This will stop him pulling and get him to come back next to you.

Now is the perfect time to get started! Puppies learn incredibly quickly, so the earlier you begin, the less time it will take to train him, and the more time you can spend playing!

Getting Started

You may want to start by using treats to train him. As we all know, dogs love food, and they will do almost anything to get that tasty morsel. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get something tasty that your pup will love, and use that to tempt him into responding.

You’ll also need a secure leash. You’re training him because he loves to pull on that line, therefore it may help to purchase a puppy harness. Not only does this stop your little wonder from hurting himself, it also makes it easier to pull him back if you have to. Sometimes training leashes can also be useful, these are shorter than normal, so your pup is closer to you and will have to listen.

Now you have everything you need to get started, let’s dive right in!

The Get Used To It Method

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Step
1
Try the leash on for size
At this point your little Pit Bull is simply not used to the sensation of the leash. Therefore, you need to put it on while at home so he can experience how it feels.
Step
2
Calm the environment
He might be so excited about the walk, that he keeps getting tangled! Speak calmly and softly, yet firmly. Ask him to 'sit' as you usually would. It's a good idea to get him used to sitting before a walk, so he knows he needs to be responsive.
Step
3
Stop jumping at the door
Some pups love to jump at the door with excitement. If he does this, sit back down on the sofa or nearby chair, and ask him to 'sit'. Once he is calm, you can get up again. Repeat until he is ready to leave calmly.
Step
4
Prevent pulling before you leave
If he pulls on the leash before you've even left the house. Stop in your tracks. He will soon learn that if he pulls, he won't be going anywhere!
Step
5
Praise
Give your pup verbal and physical praise for completing a successful walk. This will help maintain the behavior in the future.
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The Lure 'Heel' Method

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Step
1
Put that leash on!
Put your Pit Bull pup on his little leash, using a harness if you think it will help. You can start by doing this in the home, or if you don't have enough space, begin your walk.
Step
2
Let him pull
Once you're plodding along, wait until he commits the offending behavior. He will likely pull on the leash, and then it's time to act.
Step
3
'Heel'
Issue the command "heel" firmly and stop dead in your tracks. Don't sound too aggressive, you don't want to sound like you're telling him off. On the other hand, don't say it in a sweet voice. He needs to listen to you.
Step
4
Treat him
Your pup may look around a little confused. Give a light pull on the leash and let him return to your side. Once he is next to you, you can reward him!
Step
5
Practice makes perfect!
Every time he pulls on that leash, issue the command and repeat the method. Eventually he will associate the command with returning to your side. Simple!
Recommend training method?

The Turn Around Method

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Step
1
Begin the walk
Start the walk as you would normally. Plod along until he commits the offending behavior.
Step
2
Issue the command
Say 'heel' firmly but not aggressively.
Step
3
Turn around
Immediately turn 180 degrees and walk back in the opposite direction. This is to show your pup that pulling does not get them where they want to go!
Step
4
Repeat the process
Every time he pulls, turn around until he stops the offending behavior. You may be walking back and forth for a while. But eventually the time between pulls should get longer and longer.
Step
5
Praise
Always make sure you praise your dog for acting as you asked. This reward helps to affirm the behavior, and encourages them to continue with it.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Olivia Draper

Published: 03/22/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Zoey
Pit bull
4 Months
-1 found helpful
Question
-1 found helpful
Zoey
Pit bull
4 Months

Zoey came into our family 2 days ago from a friend who wasnt able to take care of her. Weve been working on potty training. I take her out first thing in the morning and then every hour after that until about 9 pm. She does go potty outside, but when we come back in, about 10 minutes later she has an accident. How do I prevent this from happening?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
831 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cathy, First, I am assuming that you are taking her potty on a leash and actually watching her to make sure she goes and finishes. If not, start there. Assuming that's what's happening, I would start by attaching her to yourself with a leash while inside the house. She should either be in a crate or tethered to you - hands free clipped to your belt will be easier, at this point. Check out the Crate Training method and the Tethering method from the article linked below. You can use both methods, using the crate training method for most of the time - and adding in the tethering method during "free times" after going potty - until she is in the habit of holding her bladder while inside, then you can start giving more freedom after she potties outside gradually. If you are still having issues even with the tethering, I would actually ask your vet about the issue because there is a change it could be related to a medical issue such as an infection. A Urinary tract infection for instance will lead to frequent urination and every 10 minutes is a lot more often than is really normal at this age. An anatomical issue might also be worth asking about. (I am not a vet though so seek your vet's advice here). It also may not be a normal potty training issue but submissive or excited peeing - pay attention to when it happens. Are you playing with pup and getting her excited? Is someone getting upset with her? Are people arriving home? Pay attention to her body language and when it happens and see if it seems submissive or due to excitement - those issues are treated differently than just routine potty training. A puppy or dog will actually pee a little bit to show appeasement to another dog and it's fairly common in some puppies - so it can be your puppy's way of saying I'm sorry or please like me. Keeping things calm is super important when dealing with this issue. Ignoring pup for 10 minutes when someone first gets home to let her calm down first, only playing really excitable games while outside, limiting touching puppy or talking to pup in a high pitched voice when you know she is already excited or worried, and keeping corrections calm and matter - of - fact, instead of emotionally charged. If you manage the issue well while pup is young to try to limit the amount of times the submissive or excited peeing is happening, most puppies will outgrow it with time. Finally, if the accidents are happening primarily on carpet or rugs, it may be that pup was intentionally or accidentally trained to go potty on fabric type surfaces via pee pads (occasionally paper training can do this but that is less likely). If that's the case, pup's access to those types of surfaces needs to be blocked during the potty training process to stop the accidents so that you can properly teach potty training going forward. Take up all rugs and block off access to carpet if possible. In the very least keep pup tether to you while in those areas so that you can quickly interrupt pup if she is sniffing, circling, or squatting to pee - I recommend limiting all access first though if you have the option. It will be easier than trying to stop pup constantly. Once pup is pottying well outside (and getting treats whenever she goes potty outside), you can gradually start reintroducing carpet and rugs just during times when she is tethered to you and you are closely watching - clap your hands and rush her outside if she starts to act like she may pee - then reward with lots of small treats when she potties outside, so that she will realize that peeing in front of you isn't the issue, peeing on the carpet is. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Harper
Pit bull
8 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Harper
Pit bull
8 Weeks

When should i start feeding her hard food and when do u think i should have her on a leash she also bites a lot do u think u know why

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I would go with the vet recommendations on transitioning to hard food but I expect that they will tell you any time now is good. Some pet parents start their puppies on hard food between 4 and 6 weeks. The main thing is to make sure the formulation of the food is specific to puppies (size of kibble and nutritional value). The right nutrients are essential to proper development. Of course, you want Harper's bones and teeth to be strong. Not only that, but the eyes, immune system, and more can also be affected by the food. No table food at any time! Start leash training Harper now. You can even practice inside the house. Here are a few tips: https://wagwalking.com/training/leash-train-a-german-shepherd-puppy. Get Harper used to wearing a leash by letting her drag it around the house as she is wearing it, a few minutes a day. When getting her to walk outside, you can lure her along with treats if need be. That is all explained in the guide I have mentioned above. As for the biting, provide Harper with textured teething toys (she may be teething). Divert her attention to toys and games when she bites and be sure to tell her know. She'll need lots of exercise and walks, so as soon as the vet says her vaccines are up to date, begin daily walks. As she grows, 30-60 minutes a walk is required. Harper will be mentally stimulated at dog training classes, too, ideal for keeping her busy and well-behaved. Have fun training!

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Question
Bleu
Brindle/Blue
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bleu
Brindle/Blue
2 Months

Walk on leash
Learn sit/stay

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, to teach Bleu these skills, I suggest you practice every day for 10-20 minutes. No longer than that at first or he may lose interest and not cooperate. Always end on a high note and be sure to offer lots of praise and the occasional treat, too. For sit and stay: https://wagwalking.com/training/sit and https://wagwalking.com/training/stay-3. To get Bleu used to the leash, attach it to him and let him drag it around the house a few minutes every day so he isn't afraid of it. Don't buy a heavy leash that is overwhelming, purchase a light one to start and get a heavier one later if needed. Teach him to heel as he learns to walk on the leash (10 minutes each walk, letting hin sniff and explore too): https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel. Good luck and have fun with Bleu!

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Question
Luna
Pit bull
12 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Luna
Pit bull
12 Weeks

Pup won’t walk on leash

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
831 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sherice, Pay attention to pup's body language and the environment. Some pups don't want to walk because they are afraid of a neighborhood dog in a fence barking, construction workers, funny objects (like yard decorations), and things we would never think twice about. If pup isn't familiar with something (no matter how normal it may seem to us) it can feel scary to pup and be a reason why they don't want to leave the safety of the yard. If pup seems nervous or something might be bothering them in the environment, work on helping pup overcome that fear first by using play and treats to distract pup and then reward pup for any confidence, calmness, or tolerance they shows around the fearful thing. Practice this further away from the scary thing first and very gradually work up to pup being able to pass that thing as her confidence grows with your help. Simply spending time sitting outside with pup daily in the environment pup is uncertain of - without expecting walking yet - can help the area become less scary or distracting. Next, spend time getting pup used to leash pressure in general if pup's not familiar with coming forward toward you when there is a leash tug. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash Next, if pup still won't walk, take some small treats or pup's dog food pieces in a small ziplock bag in your pocket or a favorite toy. Every time pup takes a couple of steps, give a treat or toss the toy a step forward or let pup give the toy a tug. Keep your energy excited and confident. When pup stops, tell pup "Let's Go" in a calm and business-like tone of voice (it's not a question, it's a confident, calm command), then tug and release the leash several times in a row until pup takes a couple more steps - at which point give another treat or play. The leash tugs should stop as soon as pup starts moving. Keep your walking goals short at first. If pup won't leave your yard - your first goal is just to leave the yard. When pup reaches that goal - go home as an additional reward for pup following you - even if a lot of leash tugs were involved. When pup will go to the end of the yard easily then walk to the next house. Gradually increase your walk distance overtime. If you make your goal something huge like the whole neighborhood at first you are less likely to succeed - work up to distance overtime. Also, do not continuously pull pup on the leash. Doing so can harm pup's neck, but also dog's have a natural tendency to pull away from something - so if you pull pup in one direction, she will just pull back in the other direction, budging even less. This is why you do the quick tug and releases so that not following is uncomfortable with the tugs but not a continuous pull. You want pup to choose to walk to get away from the annoying tugs and to receive treats. I suspect pup is nervous or distracted about the environment or not sure how to respond to leash pressure - so don't skip over desensitizing pup to the environment and leash if pup seems at all nervous about those things - freezing and looking like a deer in headlights is one sign of nervousness. Finally, make sure pup isn't in pain or sick, causing her not to want to exercise in any form due to feeling bad. If you have reason to suspect pup is ill or injured, definitely see your vet. (I am not a vet) Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Oakley
Pit bull
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Oakley
Pit bull
8 Months

I have been doing the stopping when he pulls and letting him follow and he has that down. But once I reward him he goes back to going ahead of me. Also, my 8 month old puppy pit bull is very reactive towards other dogs. What advice do you have?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
831 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tricia, Check out the Turns method from the article linked below. I would use the Turns method in areas with enough space - intentionally look for spacious areas like your yard, fields, and empty cul-de-sacs to practice in. Use the stopping when you are in a tighter space. Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel For the reactivity, look online and see if there is a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area, which is a class for dog-reactive/aggressive, where all the dogs are intensively socialized in a structured environment under the guidance of the trainer, who wearing basket muzzles for safety. To introduce the muzzle, first place it on the ground and sprinkle his meal kibble around it. Do this until he is comfortable eating around it. Next, when he is comfortable with it being on the floor with food, hold it up and reward him with a piece of kibble every time he touches or sniffs it in your hand. Feed him his whole meal this way. Practice this until he is comfortable touching it. Next, hold a treat inside of it through the muzzle's holes, so that he has to poke his face into it to get the treat. As he gets comfortable doing that, gradually hold the treat further down into the muzzle, so that he has to poke his face all the way into the muzzle to get the treat. Practice until he is comfortable having his face in it. Next, feed several treats in a row through the muzzle's holes while he holds his face in the muzzle for longer. Practice this until he can hold his face in it for at least ten seconds while being fed treats. Next, when he can hold his face in the muzzle for ten seconds while remaining calm, while his face is in the muzzle move the muzzle's buckles together briefly, then feed him a treat through the muzzle. Practice this until he is not bothered by the buckles moving back and forth. Next, while he is wearing the muzzle buckle it and unbuckle it briefly, then feed a treat. As he gets comfortable with this step, gradually keep the muzzle buckled for longer and longer while feeding treats through the muzzle occasionally. Next, gradually increase how long he wears the muzzle for and decrease how often you give him a treat, until he can calmly wear the muzzle for at least an hour without receiving treats more than two treats during that hour. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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