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.
Recommend training method?

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
Lucci
Pit bull
9 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
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Lucci
Pit bull
9 Weeks

Doesn’t like leash

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Isaiah, At this age, most puppies are nervous about the leash if they weren't introduced by a breeder before. Check out the article I have linked below. I recommend practicing one of those methods to get pup used to the leash before working on more formal heel training/no pulling. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ace
Pit bull
6 Weeks
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Question
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Ace
Pit bull
6 Weeks

Should I start training him right now or no because right now we are in the potty training I have never had a pitbull so this is my first time I need some help

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kailey, I would start by just getting pup used to the feeling and pressure of a leash at this age. Then move onto teaching pup to heel after that initial leash introduction is done. Check out the article I have linked below for introducing the leash and leash pressure. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Duchess
Pit bull
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Duchess
Pit bull
1 Year

She pulls when I take her outside for a walk. She doesn’t listen when I tall her to come back and she makes people around us feel unsafe.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Chakiya, For the pulling, check out this article. Turns method for Heel: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Come article: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Pup needs to be on leash until reliable off leash. Not only is that safer for pup and other people, but if off leash and able to ignore your commands that will undo any training efforts you are trying to make, until pup is ready for off leash - by gaining on leash reliability around distractions first, then reliability on a long training leash, then reliability on a longer lightweight training leash, until ready for off-leash if the area allows for off leash with laws and safety. Check out James Penrith from taketheleaddogtraining, and Thomas Davis, on Youtube for more information about working toward off leash training, starting with their videos on teaching the basics on leash first. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Oakley
Pit bull
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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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
944 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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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
944 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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