How to leash train a puppy

How to leash train a puppy
How to leash train a puppy

Walking correctly on a leash is an important thing to teach your puppy. If you can teach your puppy to walk on a leash then life will be much easier in a number of situations and you will also prevent problems later on. Just imagine that cute little puppy who has grown into a full size big strong dog, if it hasn’t learned how to walk on a leash before then, life is going to be rough as many big dogs are very strong and will make walking a struggle. Even with a smaller dog walking will be far more enjoyable if your dog knows how to behave when the leash is on. Starting early will make it easier to teach, here is How to leash train a puppy.

Make the puppy associate the leash with something positive

In the very beginning it is important that the puppy associate the leash with something positive and not something that is holding it back and restrain it. To start with, show the puppy the leash before going out the front door then put on the collar and the leash. The puppy will make the connection between the leash, getting a treat and going outside.

Some puppies get really nervous when you put on the leash for the first time and do everything they can to prevent you from put it on. In this case, try to distract your puppy by playing with it and then put collar on while the puppy has its mind to something else. Once the leash is on, praise and reward your puppy.

Once on the outside let the puppy run around with the collar and the leash dragging behind it. Just make sure it does not get entangled somewhere. If there are other dogs around, let the puppy play with them, if there are no dogs, play with your puppy. The idea is to get the puppy used to the feel of the leash and consider it to be an object that means fun.

If you find that there are too many distractions outside (or if you don’t have a fenced yard) then you might want to start leash training inside your house. Inside there are few distractions and no risk that the puppy is running away should you drop the leash. Play with your puppy and teach it that the leash means fun. Once this is achieved you start the actual leash training.

Leash Training The Puppy

Once your puppy is used to having the leash on, it is time to start the actual leash training. Preferably you do this in a calm environment where there are few distractions. The puppy must be calm and relaxed before starting out. If the puppy is overly exited before the walk, it is going to be very difficult to make it walk properly. Just stay calm and still and wait until the puppy settles down. Very important to ignore the puppy until it is calm. If you give it attention and caresses it will remain exited as you have rewarded the exited behavior by giving it attention. Once the puppy is calm reward it with praises and a treat and proceed with the training.

Take the leash in your hand and keep it short. If the leash is short, the will be much easier for your puppy to walk nicely beside you than if the leash is long and allowing your puppy to wander off to far from you. Keeping the leash loose, put a treat in your hand and say “”come on”” and make your puppy move forward. Give it the treat and praise it. Continue walking. If the puppy starts pulling, stop and wait. The puppy will learn that pulling will get it nowhere. If the puppy does not want to move at all but sits or lay down, walk a few steps away from the puppy and call it over, offering a treat. You give the treat, praise it and start walking again. If the puppy walks, praise and reward it.

Important Points

  • Start out when your puppy is calm. This applies to all training but particularly when leash training. If the puppy is all exited before you start then it is going to be very difficult to make it walk correctly with the leash. You might want to make your puppy “burn off” excess energy by playing before starting out with the leash training. Just make sure you give your puppy enough time to calm down after playing. Once the puppy is calm and relaxed you can start.
  • Be patient. Patience is always important when training dogs and especially important when leash training a puppy. There are soo many distractions around, fun and exiting things that the puppy wants to explore so without doubt it will loose focus from time to time. Your puppy will soon get it, just give it the time it needs.
  • Be consistent. Also very important is to be consistent with what you teach. If you don’t want your puppy to pull you must never allow it. Your puppy will not understand what you want from it if you allow pulling one time and forbid it the next.
  • Use a short leash. It will be much easier to train your puppy to walk beside you if the leash is short and does not allow your puppy to wander off. Once your puppy masters walking on a leash, you could use a longer one.
  • Walk your puppy every day. Your puppy needs to get out every day and he/she needs exercise so walking your puppy on the leash should be part of your program just like daily playtime is. Several daily walks on a leash will give your puppy plenty of practice and it will learn faster.
  • Walk ahead of your puppy. When you walk your puppy, you should be the in front, your puppy should walk either next to you or slightly behind you. Your puppy should learn that when you walk, you lead and it follows. You are the pack leader and the pack leader walks in front. This is important in the dogs world and doing this correctly will save you from trouble when your dog grows and becomes bigger and stronger.
  • Start with short walks and then increase them gradually. Really young puppies can not walk too far so when you start out, keep the walks really short. 5 minutes will be enough in the very beginning and then you gradually increase the length of the walks as the puppy improves its stamina and grows older and bigger. The puppy will also learn faster if gets several short walks every day rather than one or two long ones.

Common ProblemsNo Pull Harness

Common problems that many puppy owners face is pulling and chewing the leash. Puppies often get exited by everything around them and full energy they want to pull ahead to discover their surroundings. If the puppy pulls you could either stand completely still and not move or you could turn around and start walking in the other direction so the puppy ends up behind you. The thing is to teach the puppy that it will get nowhere by pulling and that you lead the way not the puppy.

If the puppy is pulling a lot, you might want to consider using a “no pull” harness instead of a collar. This harness god the puppy’s chest and the leash is attached in front of his/her chest. When the puppy pulls it will automatically turn and face the owner. This is a fairly simple way to teach your puppy not to pull. Pulling the leash is a problem you should solve when your puppy is still young as it is going to be much harder when the puppy grows bigger and stronger.

Chewing the leash is another common problem when trying to leash train a dog or puppy. There are a few different reasons why puppies chew the leash but most of them simply find it a lot of fun to chew, bite and pull the leash. A very simple way to solve this problem is to change the leash and use a chain instead. You could still use a soft and comfortable leather collar but changing the leash to a chain will make biting it a lot less appealing.

Chewing the leash is also a sign of “excess energy” in a puppy so some playtime to burn of a bit energy before walking could also help in preventing your puppy from biting and chewing the leash.

Where to get help

you run into trouble when trying to leash train your puppy and you feel you need some help, you can always contact me and I will do whatever I can to help you. The easiest way to reach me is simply to write comment here below on this page. You can also write to me at: or


Another option in order to get help (for a monthly fee) is to sign up for a membership at The Online Dog Trainer. This is a video based dog training site where you learn by watching a professional dog trainer (Doggy Dan) work with clients dogs. He is always available to help you via Skype, e-mail and the member’s forum. There is special puppy section of the site where you learn everything about raising and training a puppy including (among hundreds of other things) how to train a puppy to walk on the leash. The link below will take you to the Online Dog Trainer.

Click Here to learn how to train your puppy

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you found it useful. As always, if you have any questions, experiences or tips you would like to share please post them below.

All the best,


Comments 8

  • We took in a pit bull puppy who is technically still a puppy but has grown quite large and strong. Unfortunately its previous owner did not take the time to leash train him so we’re looking for some tips to get started. Do the same techniques work on older puppies who already have more strength and power behind their movements? He is a sweet dog and he loves the outdoors but going for a walk can be a real workout at the present time. Thank you for your input and expertise! 

    • Yes, the techniques also works on an older puppy but there is one thing you could add. When he starts walking ahead, you turn around and walk the other way, making you walk in front, if he pass you, do the same thing in the other direction. The turn should be done early, when he is in front but before he starts pulling the leash.

      You can see how to do this in this video Check it out and you will see how effective it is.

      I wish you the best of luck and please contact me if I can be of any help

      Kindest regards,


      • Thanks so much! Turning around and walking the other way seems to have some effect on him. I think more than anything it confused him lol, but it did get him to stop pulling before long. The problems are not fully corrected but it’s a start. I look forward to the day when I can take him for a walk and not the other way around haha!

        • Hi,
          I am happy this method is working for you. Just keep going and you will soon have him walking nicely beside you. You are soo right, you should take him for a walk not the other way around but big dogs are strong so I sure understand the problem.
          I wish you the best of luck and I would be happy if you’ll get back to me and tell me how things go.
          All the best,

  • Thanks for this post on how to take on leash on our puppy, my small puppy each time I wanna take on the leash on him, he gets angry and starts barking, he thinks maybe I wanna chain him down so this is very difficult for me to take him on a walk but when I started giving her food while out on the leash at the same time he started adapting to this and it’s not a problem for me again on putting on the leash for a walk , thanks 

    • You are welcome. Food rewards can be really effective. This way your puppy associates the leash with something positive and as you have discovered once she is used to this, it is no longer a problem.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

      All the best,


  • Thanks for this post on how to leash train our puppy, sometimes ago when I first took in my dog she was a small puppy then, I took her for work evey Morning but sometimes she will refuse to take on the leash, so I use some food to distract him to take it on and trust me since then I don’t have any problem on taking the leash on her because she thinks I wanna give her some food, thanks 

    • Yes this works really well, when a puppy makes a connection between food and the leash or between fun, play and walks then the there is no longer any problem to put the leash on.



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