How to Train Your Small Dog to Walk on Leash

Medium
4-8 Weeks
General

Introduction

After watching so many dog owners happily walking their dogs on a leash, no one could blame you as a first-time dog owner for thinking dogs automatically know how to behave while they are on a leash. This might hold true--until the first time you try to take your dog out for a walk and you suddenly you have the Tasmanian Devil on the other end of the leash. Fortunately, teaching your pup to walk on a leash is not as hard as it sounds. All it really takes is the time and patience needed to complete the training.

The only thing that can make this training harder is if there are lots of distractions such as cars, people, and other dogs in the area where you plan to train your pup. Your pup wants to check out everything around him and he is not likely to be happy about being stuck on a leash that stops him from investigating his world. 

Defining Tasks

Before we get started, keep this in mind, you should never allow your dog to pull on his leash while you are walking him. This puts him in charge of the walk, which is a situation that is untenable. You must always maintain your spot as the alpha pack leader or you will have a hard time teaching him to do anything.

Think of every walk as your chance to get in another training session and make the walks as much fun as possible. Be sure to use plenty of praise and treats to help your dog master this simple behavior and you will soon be able to go anywhere with your pup on his leash without him trying to pull your arm out of its socket. 

Getting Started

Before you start training your pup to walk on his leash, he must have mastered the basic commands 'come', 'sit', 'stay', and 'down'. For this training, you will need a few supplies, including:

  • Leash: A standard walking leash
  • Collar: One that fits your pup comfortably
  • Treats: Use your pup's favorite treats as rewards
  • Quiet: A quiet place to train will make the training sessions much easier
  • Time and patience: You will need plenty of both of these to make the training successful

As with most forms of training, you need to be patient and practice teaching your dog to walk on his leash daily if you want to be successful. 

The Meet the Leash Method

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Step
1
Introduce your pup
If your pup has not already been introduced to the concept of wearing a collar, go ahead and put one on him and let him get used to its presence. Once he has become accustomed to his collar, go ahead and attach his leash and let him wander around the house for short periods of time over the course of a few days. Play with him while he has his collar and leash on and give him treats. This will help him to associate the leash with play and treats.
Step
2
Cue up the walk
With his collar and leash in place, say something like "time for a walk" or "walkies time". It's your choice, but use the same command every time. Each time he turns to you when you say this, give him a treat. After a few sessions of this, try getting him to come to you at the door without his leash on using nothing more than the command. If he succeeds, be sure to praise him and give him a treat. Repeat this until he will come to you each time you ask him if he wants to go for a walk.
Step
3
Indoor training
Leave his collar and leash on and have your pup sit. Move back a few steps and call your pup to 'come' to you. When he does, give him a treat and extend the distance. Each time he comes over to you and will walk with you holding the leash, give him a treat.
Step
4
Moving on up
Or in this case: out. It is time to take the training sessions outside. Start out with short walks in the quieter times of the day. As your pup gets used to the distractions, start adding more distance be sure to reward him and extend the walk. If he starts to pull on the leash, stop, make him sit, and wait for 30 to 60 seconds before trying again. It may take him a little while, but your pup is reward motivated, keep practicing and soon you will be able to happily go walking anywhere.
Step
5
Practice, practice, practice
It may take him a little while, but your pup is reward motivated. Keep practicing and soon you will be able to happily go walking anywhere.
Recommend training method?

The At My Side Method

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Step
1
Pick a side, any side
Pick the side you want your pup to walk beside you on every time you go for a walk and be prepared to stick to it. Changing it will only confuse your pup.
Step
2
Use a standard walking leash
In the early phases of training, you need to use a standard or short walking leash as this will give you more control over your pup and make it easier for you to move him to the proper position while walking. At the same time, don't make his leash so short that he is being pulled along instead of being able to walk properly.
Step
3
Use treats as lures
Use one of your pup's favorite treats to help lure your pup to your side where you want him to walk. This is similar to teaching him to heel. Each time he assumes the position, be sure to praise him and give him the treat.
Step
4
Keep trying
Keep going for walks using treats to help show him where you expect him to walk with you. Do this until your pup will automatically put himself in the right position each time you tell him it's time to go for a walk without having to give him a treat.
Step
5
Go farther and farther
Start out with shorter walks at first, but extend the distance each time, giving him a little more slack on his leash each time until he will go anywhere with you without trying to drag you along. It's a great way for both of you to get plenty of exercise.
Recommend training method?

The Complete Halt Method

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Step
1
Ready, let's go
Clip your pup's leash on his collar while saying "let's go" and take off walking briskly away from him while paying him no attention as long as the leash remains slack.
Step
2
Whoa up
The moment you feel tension on the leash, backpedal towards your pup while keeping a good hold on the leash. Call your pup to you and pat your leg. When he starts walking towards you, start walking away from him again. As long as he walks with you, be sure to praise him and give him treats.
Step
3
What if he stops
If your pup stops in his tracks, you do the same. Do not move again until your pup decides to start walking towards you. When he does, simply take off walking again.
Step
4
Options
If your pup tries to put any tension whatsoever on the leash, try radically changing the direction in which you are traveling. This teaches your pup that he has to walk with you no matter where you go, it also teaches him who is in command. Just remember to reward him with treats each time he changes direction with you and stays by your side.
Step
5
The rest is up to you
The rest truly is up to you, the more you take your pup for walks with him walking calmly beside you, the faster he will master this simple skill. Be patient, be generous with treats, and the two of you will be able to go for walks anywhere you want to go.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Alo
Miniature Pinscher
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Alo
Miniature Pinscher
3 Years

My dog pulls really bad i cant get her to calm down can u help?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lillian, 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 her head is all the way past your leg to turn in front of her 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 she starts to move ahead of you, quickly turn directly in front of her. You will probably have to be fast at first and may bump into her until she 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 she should stay slightly behind and pay attention to where you are going and where you may turn, instead of assuming she knows the way and can forge ahead. The turns keep her guessing and more focused. Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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