How to Train Your Older Dog to Walk on a Leash

Medium
2-4 Weeks
General

Introduction

You just adopted a wonderful dog from your local shelter. He looked so sad sitting there in the cage, and was so excited friendly and affectionate when you opened the cage door. You bring him home in a carrier and all seems well, until you put a leash on your dog to take him outside for a walk. All of a sudden, your outgoing, friendly do, turns into a cowering, shaking, balking ball of nerves. He has obviously never been walked on a leash before, he is scared, confused and stressed. You want to be able to take your new friend on walks for exercise and bonding--what are you going to do? Fortunately, even an old dog can learn new tricks, or more specifically to walk on a leash. You will just need to spend some time training your new dog to accept and use a leash.

Defining Tasks

Most dogs learn to walk on a leash when they are young, it is a basic skill your dog requires so that you can keep him safe and contained when outdoors. A dog that pulls or resists the leash is not only awkward and unpleasant to walk for their owner, but can injure themselves if too much strain is placed on the neck and windpipe, or if they get loose and run into traffic or other hazards.  A dog that pulls on a leash can also injure their owner if they pull them over or drag them into hazards. This risk becomes more pronounced with an adult dog that has more strength than a puppy and may outmuscle the owner.  

Some dogs may not learn this basic skill when young because they are raised in a rural environment, where they are not introduced to the leash, or because a stray or rescue dog may not have been provided the attention and training required to master the art of walking on a leash with their previous owner. A dog that has achieved the skill of walking on a leash will not be afraid of or avoid a collar and leash, they will walk at their owner's side without pulling the leash taut or resisting their owner. An older dog may be afraid or anxious when put on a leash, depending on their prior experiences, and if this is the case, getting the older dog to feel comfortable with the leash and not resist or pull away in fright may be required before leash training can commence.

Getting Started

When training your older dog, or any dog, to walk on a leash, it is important to have the correct equipment. You should use a collar that fits your dog properly, it should not be too tight or loose. An alternative to a collar, that is often preferable when training a dog to walk on a leash, is a body harness or a head harness. A dog is apt to put more pressure on their neck and throat while working thru the learning curve of being on a leash, and may be subject to neck and windpipe injuries, so be aware and adjust equipment as needed. You should also teach your dog on a shorter leash, to allow the dog to walk at your side, and not become entangled or put too much distance between you and him, which may encourage him to pull. Also, the leash should be the appropriate weight for the dog. For example, a large or giant breed dog will need a thicker leash than a toy or miniature breed. Retractable leashes are not recommended for training. Bring along treats to reward your dog for responding to your cues and walking well on the leash.  The following methods can be useful in teaching an older dog to walk on a leash.

The Acclimatize Method

Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Introduce leash at meal time
While your dog is eating, place the collar on him and let the leash hang while he is eating so that he associates the collar and leash with a positive experience. Repeat several times.
Step
2
Drag leash in the house
After your dog finishes eating, follow him with the leash around the house. Gradually increase the length of time you follow your dog around with the leash so he gets used to walking beside you.
Step
3
Drag leash in the yard
Next let your dog go outside with the leash and drag it behind him around an enclosed area, occasionally pick up the leash and follow your dog.
Step
4
Hold leash
Offer your dog a treat with one hand while holding the leash in the other hand. Coax your dog forward with the treat and leash.
Step
5
Pressure from the side
If the dog pulls or avoids moving forward, turn so that the leash pulls him to the side and the dog has to follow or lose his balance, praise him for following the leash and offer a treat. Repeat this until the dog begins following light pressure on the leash. Never punish your dog for not following the leash, as this will create a negative association.
Recommend training method?

The Encouraging Forward Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Acclimatize to leash
If you have an older dog that resists the leash by sitting or lying down or pulling away from you while on the leash, practice letting him get used to the leash by leaving it on him while outside in an enclosed area.
Step
2
Teach off leash command
Teach your dog off leash to respond to a command such as 'come', or a hand signal. When your dog comes, give him a treat.
Step
3
Give command while on lead
With the leash on but not holding it, give the dog the signal for 'come' and provide a treat. Reward for coming forward dragging the leash.
Step
4
Combine command and hold leash
Pick up the end of the leash, give the signal for 'come' and a light tug on the leash. Reward the dog when he comes and give a treat.
Step
5
Continue moving forward
Gradually start encouraging the dog forward while holding the leash with 'come' and provide a treat. A few steps at first, then several steps, then farther and farther until the dog is walking comfortably moving forward on the leash.
Recommend training method?

The Correct Pulling Method

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3 Votes
Step
1
Stand still
Stand with your dog in a regular or choke collar, with a leash. Do not move forward. If the dog moves forward, give a sharp quick pull up on the collar with the leash and then release.
Step
2
Reward relax
When the dog has relaxed and is not pulling, start walking forward.
Step
3
Stop when pulling
When the dog tightens up the leash and pulls forward, give the leash a sharp pull upwards, stop moving forward, then release pressure. Do not continuously pull or put excessive pressure on the collar or choke collar.
Step
4
Continue when relaxed
When the dog is relaxed, start moving forward again.
Step
5
Repeat
Repeat as required, stopping and pulling your dog up quickly and then releasing, waiting for the dog to let the leash slack and then proceeding. Eventually, your dog will learn that only when the leash is slack does he get to proceed.
Recommend training method?
author-img

Written by Laurie Haggart

Published: 11/05/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Sophie
Labrador Retriever
8 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Sophie
Labrador Retriever
8 Years

I haven’t really lease trained her. I am ready to start traveling and want to take her with me.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Elaine, It is never too late to leash train Sophie. I recommend that you simply get her used to the leash first by following the "Acclimatize" method in this article bellow: https://wagwalking.com/training/walk-on-a-leash Once Sophie is used to the leash, then you can teach her to walk nicely on the leash by using one of the methods found in this article bellow: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-large-dog-to-not-pull Best of luck training and enjoy your travels with her, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bella and Bijou
Great Pyrenees
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Bella and Bijou
Great Pyrenees
2 Years

Hello! My family recently purchased a farm with 19 goats and two livestock guardian dogs. The two lgd's have never worn a leash, and are downright terrified of it. We really need them to be able to walk on leash to take them too the vet to get shots, medical treatment, etc.
Any tips on how to acclimate these farm dogs to a leash?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kaitlyn, First, start by putting a regular collar on each dog and let him wear that for a week until he gets used to having something around his neck. Give them treats while you are putting the collars on. You might need real meat treats like chicken meat. When they are comfortable wearing collars, then when you are at home, attach a two to three foot check cord to each dog's collar while they are in a safely enclosed area and cannot run off if they get spooked. A check cord is a type of leash that is designed for hunting dogs to wear during outdoor training. It does not have a handle, is usually rolled instead of flat webbing, and is made out of a material that slides through the grass easily. Look for a brand like Sportdog or Mendota, you can also create your own out of thin climbing accessory rope. Have each dog wear the leash until he learns to ignore it. Expect the dogs to freak out for the first two days that they have the leashes on. Puppies take time to get used to leashes. It will take an adult at least as long as it does a puppy. They need to learn through experience that the leash is not going to hurt them. While Bella and Bijou are wearing the leash check cords and have calmed down enough, do something really fun with them in the enclosed area without grabbing onto the leash. That could be training exercises with treats, a game like fetch, or giving them each a fun toy. Anything that they love, that they can do while in that enclosed area while wearing the check cords. The purpose of the fun thing is to distract them from the leashes and to make the experience more pleasant so that they will calm down faster. Also only keep the leashes on them while you are around to supervise for safety reasons. Clear your schedule and spend the day with them reading and hanging out where you can see them. When they are used to the leashes dragging behind them, then pick up the handles of the leashes and follow each dog around wherever he wants to go. Have one person work with each dog or do them one at a time. Don't try to handle both yourself. When they are used to you following them while holding onto their leashes, then follow them like before but occasionally give a quick tug on the leash and then give a wonderful reward right after. Practice this until each dog begins to look at you when you tug in anticipation of a reward. Release the tension on the leash again right after you tug. When they will look at you, then occasionally give a tug, but keep the leash tight until the dog turns his head toward you or takes a step toward you. Practice this until both dogs will step toward you when you make the leash tight. From there you can add more steps, rewarding each dog every time that he walks toward you a bit more, until you have dogs who will follow you on a leash while you give him treats. When they can follow you on leash, then you can gradually give them less treats overtime, until you no longer need the treats. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Jimmy
Indian pariah
2 Years
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Jimmy
Indian pariah
2 Years

Hi. I just reunited with my 2 year old dog, who I had to leave behind with our neighbors when we were moving out last year. Because he didn't come with us, as he's an untrained dog. This year, he surprisingly popped up in front of our house, which is miles away from where we left him! I want to train him into a friendly, social dog so that I can take him with me on walks and such, and take him with me when we move out next year. I had him wear a slim collar last year, he's still wearing that right now. But whenever he sees a leash or rope, he immediately runs and hides underneath bushes, starts crying near the gate and such. Any tips on how I can get a leash attached to his collar and make him a calm dog? He's currently very scared (I'll give him as long as he wants to adjust to his new surroundings, the yard) He's going to be a outdoor pet so I also want him to be friendly with other animals, walk on a leash and be a bit friendly with people. Listen to commands like "sit", "come here" and such. I want to make him a well behaved adult baby so that it'll make his new lifestyle of constant moving and adjusting a less miserable than what he has to face if he's a feral dog. Any leads would be appreciated!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nikita, First, whenever you feed him, set the leash next to his food. When he gets used to the leash being near him, then when you feed him, feed him one piece of food at a time from your hand while you hold the leash next to him in your other hand. When he can handle that, then reach toward him with the leash, but don't try to clip it on, and feed him a treat each time that you reach toward him. Repeat this until he can relax during that also. When he can handle that, then clip the leash to him, give him a treat, and un-clip it again. Practice this until he will let you clip the leash to him without reacting fearfully. Expect this to take at least a couple of weeks. After Jimmy can handle having the leash clipped to him, then create a short leash out something that is one to two feet long. When you are there to supervise him, clip the short leash to him and let him walk around with it attached to him. Play games with him and give him pieces of his food for following you around and paying attention to you. This will help with some of the other, future training and it will take his mind off of the leash being attached to him. When you are done spending time with him, then take the leash off of him again. You want him to associate the leash with attention from you, fun, and rewards, so that he will look forward to the leash being attached. When he can handle the short leash, then clip his regular six-foot leash to him, and practice the same thing with the longer leash, until he no longer minds that leash also. When he can handle the longer leash, then follow him around in the yard and hold onto the end of his leash. Every once in a while give a gentle tug on the leash and then quickly give him a treat while you praise him. You want to teach him to look at you or come toward you when he feels pressure from the leash. If he expects a reward whenever he feels the tug, he should start looking at you instead of panicking. As he improves, you can gradually wait until he takes a step toward you before you give him the treat. With practice, you can add more and more steps before you give the treat, teaching him to follow you. Go slow and make sure that he is comfortable with the current amount of leash pressure with the treats before you make things more difficult. Once you can take him with you places on the leash, then whenever he sees a person or a dog, before he has a change to react poorly, praise him, do a little fun dance, and give him a treat. This is to get him excited and to make him feel happy about the presence of other people and dogs. You want him to expect the appearance of others to be fun and not scary. To teach basic obedience commands, go to the training section of www.wagwalking.com/training and read the individual articles written for how to teach each of the commands that you want to teach him. Since Jimmy is so fearful, look for methods that involve using treats at first, to help him like the training sessions too. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Taco
Chihuahua
5 Years
0 found helpful
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Taco
Chihuahua
5 Years

We just adopted a 5 year old Chi and his previous owners never walked him or let him outside. How can I get him comfortable with the leash and get him to walk with it

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shekeyda, First, simply get Taco used to wearing a leash by following the accept a leash article linked below: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash When he is used to the leash, to teach him to walk beside you by following the "Turns" method from the heel article linked below: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Marley
mixed breed Romanian Rescue
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Marley
mixed breed Romanian Rescue
5 Years

Hi,
We recently adopted Marley from a shelter in Romania. He was rescued from a kill shelter and then dumped at a center where he spent the next 2 years till he came to us Sunday.
He is genuinely a very sweet dog but he is ever so anxious. He whines constantly and will work himself up into a state where he high pitch barks.
He will also constantly follow us around the house and cries if you go anywhere without him.
He is slowly gaining confidence going out into the back garden to use the bathroom but does have the occasional accident in the house.
He is comfortable wearing a harness but as soon as a lead is attached he will just cower and refuse to move. We are dying to get him out walking and burn off some of this anxious energy. Please help!!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sonia, I highly suggest hiring a professional trainer in your case. Structure and consistency are really important for anxious dogs. Working them through fears to build confidence is also super important - so they don't just stay stick in an in between anxious place - but this has to be done with the right amount of pressure, enough that the dog moves forward with learning but not so much that the dog shuts down mentally. Obedience and confidence building exercises are also huge. First, check out the article linked below to help him adjust to the leash, don't worry too much about not being able to walk him for the next two weeks, you can still work on training him mentally - which is even more important for releasing anxious energy. When you can walk him, work on a structured walk, like heeling most of the time, because while heeling pup will have to focus on you and not other stimuli, will stay in a calmer state, and it will tire him out more mentally which will help with calmness when you return home. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash The following commands are good ways to implement structure - building an anxious dog's respect for you can make them feel more secure but it needs to be done very calmly and confidently - not angry or feeling sorry for them. Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Confidence building exercises - you don't have to have special agility obstacles, think about the obstacles you own or can build that your dog can practice weird surfaces, jumps, balance, going through things, and focus on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OseD7TRwsPQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elvtxiDW6g0 Check out the video linked below on Separation anxiety - the trainer's talking type is a bit abrupt but he is very experienced dealing with behavior issues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Finally, check out the Surprise method from the article linked below for introducing the crate if he isn't already crate trained: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Rambo
Coonhound
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Rambo
Coonhound
1 Year

I recently adopted Goldie and have been trying to lease train with a harness and a collar, but am running into some difficulty. While on the leash, he walks fine sometimes but due to his breed I assume, he pulls a lot and doesn't stop until he gets to where he wants to smell. I am seeing the "tree" technique is suggested, but I wanted to know if you had more suggestions I should try when walking him.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Meredith, It sounds like he is used to wearing a leash now, so I suggest starting to teach a formal heel by following the "Turns" method or the "Treats" method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Cassie
Mixed—retriever/hound?
21 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Cassie
Mixed—retriever/hound?
21 Months

We adopted 70-lb., long-legged, strong Cassie a couple of months ago. We don’t think she’d had much training. We began walking her with a Martindale collar. She would pull and leap when she saw something she wanted to chase. We then got a “gentle leader”, which had worked well with a previous dog. She walked a little better but still kept so much tension on the leash that she wore a raw spot only her nose. A trainer suggested that we use a Herm Sprenger prong collar and showed us how to use it properly. She was much easier to walk with that. However, it tends to slip down her neck despite fitting snugly when put on. She still pulls enough that I wonder if she’s become desensitized to the pinch of the prongs. We just discovered a raw spot under her neck from the prongs. We don’t know what to try next to walk her without pulling and hurting her.

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

Thank you for the question about beautiful Cassie. I think that learning a few methods and techniques for walking her will help. You are right, she should not have marks on her from the prong collar. Because she has them, this leads me to believe it is not working for her. Have you ever tried a padded harness? Look for one that is easy to put on, has nice padding, and does not pull at the neck. Most come in adjustable sizes. Go to a reputable pet supply store to have Cassie fitted. As well, take a look at these great guides for tips on walking Cassie. https://wagwalking.com/training/walk-on-a-leash-1 and https://wagwalking.com/training/walk-slowly. You are doing the right thing by trying out various things so that you can find what will be most comfortable and safest for her. If she hasn't practiced what she learned at obedience class lately, you can do that while on a walk. She will be focusing on what she needs to do and may pull less. Have her sit, heel, and do 180 turns often. This may provide a mental workout that will make walking her easier. Good luck and happy training!

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Skye
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
7 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Skye
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
7 Years

Since skye was a pup we have always put her in the car and taken her to a park to get exercise, we want to take her on a lead walk, she is fine with the collar and lead but will only go as far as the car, she will not walk up the road on the lead, she starts to shake and turns back to go indoors, she won't even do it for treats.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Debbie, First, I suggest parking your car further away by 10-20 feet. Every time pup takes a couple of steps, give a treat (the car should motivate her to walk at least 20 or so feet to the car, reward that effort to begin with). 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 and praise (it's okay if pup won't take the treats at first). 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 after pup can make it the initial 10-20 feet. Park the car at the end of the yard if in a house, or further away in the parking lot in an apartment. When pup reaches that goal - go home before pup puts on the brakes, as an additional reward for pup following you - even if a lot of leash tugs were involved to get that far. When pup will go to the end of the yard easily then walk to the next house. Gradually increase your walk distance overtime as pup hits milestones and seems more relaxed walking to the current distance. 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 and praise. Drive the car up to three houses away once you have worked up to that far while practicing this. After the third house, require pup to walk past the car to the next house, no longer moving the car further. When pup can easily walk past the car, then the car can go back to where you normally park it, and work on pup walking that same distance without the car as a motivator. Don't take pup to the park when they refuse to go for a walk - instead walk in small circles close to the house to get pup to go potty - taking pup inside and crating for an hour before trying again if pup won't go potty when you do so. Trips to the park shouldn't be a reward for refusing to walk. 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 Christmas 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. If pup won't play or take food (they may begin taking food once they are more relaxed later - most dogs won't take food while stressed, and will begin taking it again as they improve, at which point you can use food rewards more in the training if you wish), then simply spend time sitting outside calmly with pup for an hour at a time often, to desensitize pup to being in areas outside that they are not used to. 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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Artie
Shih Tzu
4 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Artie
Shih Tzu
4 Years

My husband and I have had our rescue for almost 3 months. There are times when he gets so distracted on walks and does not respond when we call his name. There are also times when he will walk so slowly and then sit down, as my husband and I try to coax him along. He will often refuse to walk in the direction that my husband or I want to walk in, and seems to be sitting down in protest.
There are certain times during walks he will be totally fine and walking at a brisk pace, without many stops. How can we train him so that he knows to listen/ follow our lead?

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

Thank you for the question. Little Artie has a mind of his own - not uncommon in the Shih Tzu. The fact that he walks along briskly lets you know that he does know the scoop, so perhaps when he sits down, it's sheerly out of boredom or reluctance to go the way you want. Do you vary the route often? That may help. Make every walk a structured brisk one so that Artie has no time to think about sitting down and refusing to walk. Practicing obedience commands while on the walk is a good way to keep up the pace. Take a look at this article for tips on commands to work with. The entire guide is good, but the Turns Method may be especially helpful. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Bring along treats that Artie likes to give him the incentive to train. Good luck!

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Zhavia
Cane Corso
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Zhavia
Cane Corso
3 Years

Anxiety, not used to leash..

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
210 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on working with an adult dog on leash. Collar - make sure your dog has a collar that fits him/her properly. It shouldn’t be too tight, or too loose. If your dog tends to pull a lot, even a normal collar can choke him/her, so it would be a good idea to use a harness instead of a collar. Leash - ensure that your dog has a suitable leash. It would make sense to have a thin, delicate leash for a small dog, and a larger, thicker leash for a large dog. A shorter leash will help keep the dog at your side, and help you correct bad behavior more effectively. Walking an adult dog on a shorter leash will also help you keep the dog away from distractions. Treats - make sure you reward your dog with a doggy treat for being obedient. It will give your dog an incentive to be polite and walk well for you. Don’t forget to shower your dog with words of endearment and praise for being cooperative and listening to your commands. Walking Without Pulling Since you are trying to train an adult dog to walk on a leash, the dog probably already has the habit of pulling on his leash. Therefore, it is important to communicate two things to your dog. Pulling on the leash will not help him reach his destination faster. It will just annoy you. Walking politely will make you happy. Don’t forget to express your happiness by rewarding your dog with a treat, and words of praise. When your dog starts to pull on the leash, you could try the “no forward progress” by just stopping in your tracks. Sooner or later, your dog will notice the pattern in your stopping and will just walk calmly by your side in order to get to his destination. When you feel the leash go slack (which means your dog isn’t pulling on the leash), don’t forget to reward him for that. Training an adult dog isn’t easy. You might have to take him for several short walks through the day for several days in order for him to understand what you approve of and what you disapprove of. Dogs are smart, and they will quickly figure out that pulling actually slows down their progress rather than speeding it up. Walking By Your Side It is important to teach your dog to walk by your side. Traditionally, dogs are taught to walk on the left side, however you can choose whatever side you’re more comfortable with. If your dog constantly runs around in circles, or moves backwards and forwards, your walk will be far from enjoyable. In order to teach your dog to walk by your side, you could make sure that the leash is short enough that he cannot move away from you very easily. If you leash isn’t short enough for that, you could just wrap a long leash around your wrist to reduce the length. Just make sure you don’t make it too short so that you’re not dragging your dog. You could tempt your dog towards the correct side by giving him tiny treats. In time, your dog will start to understand what exactly you want and expect from him/her, and slowly you can start cutting down the number of treats you give your dog. However, continue to constantly reward your dog with praises when he/she responds to your commands appropriately. At the end of the day dogs are smart, loving beings who will do anything to make their master happy. Therefore, it is necessary to show your dog how proud you are of him/her when he/she responds to your commands. All it takes to train your adult dog to walk on a leash is a little patience, a pinch of firmness, and tons of love.

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Zoey
German Shepherd
6 Years
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Zoey
German Shepherd
6 Years

When Zoey was a pup I lived in town and would walk her regularly however we then moved to the country where she was able to run freely and the walking stopped now we live back in town and trying to take her on a walk is very difficult as she pulls so much and is so strong. She gets so excited to go on walks but I have tried the treats for listening along the way and she won’t take them she is too distracted. She is really not a rough or aggressive in any way! I have a two year old and they adore each other. Any advice how to get her to walk without taking my arm with?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
210 Dog owners recommended

Hi there! Since you have tried treats and the basics with leash walking and that hasn't been working, I would try getting a no pull harness at this point. Of all the behavior issues I have encountered over the years, leash walking seems to be one that is difficult to solve without the use of a tool. There are two types of harnesses I suggest. One is called a Gentle Leader. That goes around the nose and behind the head. It isn't a muzzle, they can freely open their mouths. The other one is called an Easy Walk Harness. It's basically a chest harness but it clips in the front. Both create a bothersome sensation when they pull, so they quickly learn to not pull. You can still provide treats to keep her focus on you as you go through this process.

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Bailey
Chihuahua
3 Years
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Bailey
Chihuahua
3 Years

She is a handful when walking - she chases everything, runs into bushes, ignores us completely, and will sit down then bound forward. However, we had a trainer introduce us to a slip leash and she has been walking great. However, I would like her back on a harness, because I am worried about her choking and the slip lead causing back problems.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
210 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Another solution may be a head halter called a Gentle Leader. It helps with pulling/attention without the potential negative side effects of a slip collar/leash. These can be found at ay pet store and online.

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rocket
Havanese
8 Years
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rocket
Havanese
8 Years

we got my dog when he was about 2 and everytime we have tried to leash train him, when he puts the collar/harness on, he refuses to move. We have recently had some success with a new harness, but when we take him on walks, he will randomly stop and stare into the wind and refuse to move. He also has never been fully potty trained and has been peeing in the house more.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello, First, I recommend, spending time getting pup used to leash pressure in general, starting with the Drag method while in the house while you are there to supervise, to make sure the leash doesn't get caught on anything. Once pup is doing well with that, progress to the Pressure method to get pup used to coming toward you when the leash tightens. 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, he 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. 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 Christmas 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 his 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. If you suspect nervousness or fear of things outside, work on desensitizing as a first priority. As dog's get older, their bladder capacities can decrease too. Is pup used to using a pee pad or outside potty training? I would go back to the basics for a while, looking for ways to make potty training easier for pup too in case this is age related. Taking pup out more frequently, removing rugs if those are common accident spots, giving treats for going potty outside, decreasing how much freedom pup has in the home to help them find a pee pad more easily, ect... For indoor potty training, like pee pads, check out the exercise pen method from the article linked below - it can be used with a doggie litter box, real grass pad, or pee pad: Exercise pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy For outside potty training, I recommend tethering pup to you with a hands free leash or crate training pup and crating pup whenever their bladder isn't completely empty. I would also reward pup with a treat whenever they go potty outside, clean any new or old accident spots with a cleaner that contains enzymes, and pay attention to whether pup's seems to be going more often, stools are very loose, is going in their sleep, or seems disoriented - if something seems unusual, I recommend a trip to your vet as well. Incontinence can be a sign of a medical issue. I am not a vet. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Nala
German Shepherd
17 Months
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Nala
German Shepherd
17 Months

We’ve tried everything there is to try regarding her walking next to me on a leash. She keeps pulling and never stops unless she sits next to me and I’m not moving. Or even if there are treats or a ball involved, she stops long enough to receive them, and then continues to pull. What should we do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Marina, Check out the Turns method from the article linked below. Pay special attention to the steps on turning directly in front of pup as soon as their nose starts to move past your leg - don't wait until his head is all the way past your leg to turn in front of him or this will be hard to do. It should look like pup sitting beside you, slightly behind you so that head is behind your leg, step forward and as soon as he starts to move ahead of you, quickly turn directly in front of him. You will probably have to be fast at first and may bump into him until he starts to learn this. Practice in an open area, like your own yard, so that you can make lots of turns easily. You want pup to learn that he should stay slightly behind and pay attention to where you are going and where you may turn, instead of assuming he knows the way and can forge ahead. The turns keep him guessing and more focused. Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel You may also find that you need a training tool to keep pup from pulling you due to their strength while training. The tool won't fix the problem on its own, you will still need to practice the Turns method with it to gain pup's attention through training, but it can make training easier and safer in the meantime. A properly fitted prong collar or gentle leader tends to help the most with strong pullers. Make sure you learn how to fit and use properly though. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3iczULPcdE Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Teddy
Chihuahua
6 Years
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Teddy
Chihuahua
6 Years

Fostering Teddy. He’s never been walked on a leash. Trying to get him acclimated to a harness, leash and collar but he’s terrified of everything, snarls and bites.

He’s also not using the wee-wee pad to go to the bathroom although he was supposedly trained with it

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Stephanie, For the potty training, I recommend the Exercise Pen method from the article I have linked below. Will pup go potty outside on grass? If so, you may also want to switch to disposable real grass pads if pup really isn't pee pad trained from what you can tell - that may be a more natural transition if needed. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Grass pad brands - amazon also: www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com www.porchpotty.com For the collar and leash, you can start by introducing the collar first. I would break the training down into smaller steps and go slow. Instead of trying to get pup's head in the collar all at once, spend one day simply laying the collar on the ground and sprinkling treats around it several times a day. Do this until pup is comfortable touching it without you holding the collar - go at pup's pace. Watch their body language and stay at this step until pup is relaxed again around the collar. That may take one training session or a week - depending on how suspicious pup is of the collar at this point. Practicing for short periods multiple times a day can help things go more quickly. Once pup is comfortable just touching the collar, hold it in your hand and have pup eat treats out of the hand that is holding the collar. Do this until pup isn't worried about you holding the collar up anymore - don't try to suddenly put it on pup yet or that will set you back. Practice at this step until pup looks happy and confident again with the collar just being held up. End the training session while pup is doing well still. Next, loosen the collar as much as you can so that it makes a large loop, hold the collar up with one hand and hold the treats through the collar's hole with your other hand, so that pup has to move their head toward the collar hole to eat the treats - don't require pup to put their head through the hole yet, just in front of the hole. Do this step until pup is happy and confident about the collar being held up and approaching it - do NOT suddenly try to throw the collar over pup's head or move it toward them - pup is the one moving, you are keeping the collar still at this point. Practice that step until pup is relaxed - even if that takes several sessions. Next, hold the collar the same way, but offer the treats a bit closer to the collar, so that pup has to poke the end of their muzzle through the collar loop to take them. Practice this until pup is comfortable doing that. As pup relaxes, move your treat hand a bit further back so that pup is poking their head through the collar more and more as they improve - again, don't move the collar toward pup at this point. Let pup move their head in and out of the loose collar freely to get treats. Practice until pup has no issues with placing their head through the collar. Go back a step and practice at that step for longer before continuing if pup becomes nervous again. Next, once pup is comfortable poking their entire head through the collar, move the collar very slightly back and forth while holding it up, and holding treats in the collar for pup to move their head through it - you are just getting pup used to the collar moving, not putting it on yet. The collar should still be a large loop at this point - not fitted. Practice until pup can handle the collar moving. As pup improves, gradually increase how much the collar is moving back and forth while pup reaches their head through it. Next, have pup poke their head through the collar, and reward pup with several treats at a time for keeping their head in the hole for longer. Gradually increase how long pup holds their head in the collar for by spacing out rewards as they keep their head in the hole. Next, when pup can hold their head in the collar for longer, have pup poke their head through the collar, sprinkle several treats on something that's at pup's chin height so that your hands are free, and slide the buckle that adjusts the collar size back and forth while pup eats the treats. Start with small movements then stop touching the collar - you are just getting pup used to you messing with the collar a bit. Practice this until you can gradually work up to being able to adjust the size of the collar completely without pup feeling worried, while they eat the treats off the object at chin height. Once pup is can hold their head in the collar for several minutes while you adjust it, without being worried, adjust it to the proper size and leave it on pup for at least two weeks, to help pup get used to the feeling of wearing it around. Most dogs will scratch at it and feel like it's itchy for at least a week when you first have them wear a collar. Choose a collar that's safe for pup to keep on - such as a durable plain buckle collar - not a prong or choke or other training collar that could tighten or accidentally correct. When you catch pup itching at the collar, distract pup with a fun toy. Check out the video linked below for an example of getting pup to poke their head through an opening. The dog in that video wasn't afraid of the harness during training - so the training was done in one sitting for the sake of showing the steps, but expect your pup to need several sessions between each training step - moving too quickly will likely set pup back. Pup needs to get to the point where they are completely relaxed at the current step before you proceed to the next step - how long that takes will simply depend on pup's specific temperament. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn5b8u1YS_g&feature=emb_title Once pup is used to the collar, check out the methods from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Boba
Bullboxer Pit
8 Months
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Boba
Bullboxer Pit
8 Months

she barks at everything uncontrollably and she bites whenever she’s scared and she won’t let me put a leash on her

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Bleh For that level of fear I recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like fear. Check out kikopup on youtube and her videos on barking and reactivity to learn more about densentizing pup. https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Cole
Shih Tzu
19 Months
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Cole
Shih Tzu
19 Months

Cole came to us never being leash walked he sets off great for first 100nyards then sits and refuses to move, how do i encourage him to walk?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
210 Dog owners recommended

Hello! The best thing you can do in this scenario is to reward good walking behavior with treats. Give treats every few steps, and if your dog decides to stop, place treats in a train on the ground for your dog to follow. Doing this for a few days in a row will help your dog become more accustomed to walking on the leash.

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Rocky
Shar Pei, Pit Bull, German Shepard
1 Year
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Rocky
Shar Pei, Pit Bull, German Shepard
1 Year

Rocky has been very much neglected at his current home. I would like to start taking him for walks to build trust before bringing him into my home. I also worry about his reaction to cats because he has never been around the, I have 2.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Erin, If he isn't already used to a leash I would start with one of the methods from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash If he is a bit familiar with the leash already, check out the Pressure method from the accept a leash article. Check out the videos linked below for teaching calmness around cats. Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate cat issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E Work on impulse control in general with pup, by teaching things that increase impulse control and calmness - such as a long Place command around lots of distractions. Practicing the command until you get to the point where pup will stay on Place while you are working with the kitten in the same room. I recommend also back tying pup while they are on place - safely connecting a long leash attached to pup to something near the Place just in case pup were to try to get off Place before you could intervene. Make sure what the leash is secured to, the leash itself, and pup's collar or harness are secure and not likely to break or slip off. This keeps kitty safe while practicing and reinforces to pup that they can't get off the Place. The leash should be long enough that pup doesn't feel the leash while they are obediently staying on the Place because it has some slack in the leash. You want pup to learn to stay due to obedience and self-control, and the leash just be back up for safety. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Below are some other commands in general you can practice to help pup develop better impulse skill/self-control - impulse control takes practice for a dog to gain the ability to control herself. Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ If he is highly prey driven towards the cats you will likely need to hire professional in person training help for it, and be careful to keep the animals apart. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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