How to Train a Pit Bull Puppy to Walk on Leash

How to Train a Pit Bull Puppy to Walk on Leash
Easy difficulty iconEasy
Time icon2-4 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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. 

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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!

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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!

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The Get Used To It Method

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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.

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.

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.

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!

5

Praise

Give your pup verbal and physical praise for completing a successful walk. This will help maintain the behavior in the future.

The Lure 'Heel' Method

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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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

The Turn Around Method

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1

Begin the walk

Start the walk as you would normally. Plod along until he commits the offending behavior.

2

Issue the command

Say 'heel' firmly but not aggressively.

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!

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.

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.

By Olivia Draper

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

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Meatball

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Pitbull Mastiff

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5 Years

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Question

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I have a hard time getting him to stop pulling the leash and listening the first time when I ask him to come or sit when outside because he gets too distracted.

May 9, 2022

Meatball's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Velencia, Know that what you described is normal for basic obedience; the initial goal is just to teach pup what a word means and motivate them to learn it in a calm environment. What comes next is intermediate obedience. For intermediate obedience, you will gradually work up to distractions and pup developing the skills to obey in those situations too - at first the distraction might be someone walking through the room, a squirrel in the yard, a leaf blowing by, ect...Start with less distracting environments, then gradually move onto harder environments and spend intentional time practicing in each of those new environments until pup can focus there too. For example, in your home without others around is easiest, your backyard is a bit harder, your front yard is even harder, your neighborhood is even hard, your home with guests present is even harder, a pet store is even harder, ect...Go out of your way to practice at the current level pup needs to learn at and to create the distractions pup is ready to learn to overcome during training sessions when you can control things - so that pup can also respond when things are more out of your control in every day life, but keep the distraction level what pup is ready for at that point in the training so pup can still succeed with your help. The goal is to guide pup and provide consistent, calm boundaries at this point. Second, you may need to switch some of your training methods now that pup knows the commands and is sometimes choosing to disobey. For example, when teaching Sit I would first recommend using the Treat Luring method from the article linked below. Once pup knows that method well and has worked up to some distractions, the command could be enforced using the Pressure method from that same article when pup chooses to disobey something they know. The pressure method will still reward some but will also give a gentle consequence for disobedience to encourage pup to obey even when they don't find it as fun. Another option is to withhold something pup wants until they obey Sit when told, having pup work for what they want. For example, ask pup to sit before opening the door to go on a walk, then wait until pup does, repeating only every five minutes if needed. You may wait thirty minutes the first time, but if you're consistent you will rarely wait that long again, pup will learn to do it sooner and sooner, expecting that that's the only want to get what they want - to obey. This can be used when feeding pup, tossing a toy they want, letting them go say hi to someone, ect...wait pup out and incorporate practice into daily life so pup is earning what they want throughout the day and not only when you have treats. Sit - Pressure method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-sit For the Leash walking, check out the Turns method from the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel For the coming when called, check out this article, especially the sections on using a long training leash and teaching with the Premack Principle: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ And the Reel in method from this article: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 10, 2022

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Jax

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Pit bull

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3 Years

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He’s very strong and pulls with a lot of force. He’s so stubborn but loves his treats, so maybe some tips that involve treats would be helpful!

Jan. 3, 2022

Jax's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Savannah, Check out the Turns method from the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Jan. 3, 2022


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