How to Train Your Dog to Walk on Lead

Nov 9, 2023 | Dog Training Tips

How to train your dog to walk on lead. image featuring a dog with a trainer, both are outdoors in a park setting.

Understanding the Importance of Lead Training

How to train your dog to walk on lead is an essential skill for any dog owner to master. It not only makes walks more enjoyable for both you and your dog, but it also ensures their safety while out and about. Lead training can be challenging for both dog and owner. Our dogs did not evolve to have their behaviour impinged on by being confined on lead so it is crucial we adequately train and socialise our dogs to these conditions, ideally early in their development.

Effective Lead Training for Dogs

Read on and we will provide helpful tips and techniques for how to train your dog to walk on lead. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right lead to mastering effective lead training methods such as positive reinforcement and loose lead walking.

Training your dog to walk on a lead is essential, not only for their safety but for their overall protection. Proper lead training develops the bond between you and your dog, creating a positive walking experience for both the pet and owner.

Lead training for dogs is an important part of dog training, teaching dogs to walk on a leash not only keeps them safe from traffic and other hazards but also prevents them from running away from you.

It’s crucial to teach your dog to walk on a lead from an early age. Ideally during their critical period for development (3-16 weeks) but it can be achieved with any dog at any point in their lives.

How to Train Your Dog to Walk on Lead

Key Takeaways: How to Train Your Dog to Walk on Lead

Start Lead Training Early

Early training with a collar and lead is crucial for puppies, but it’s also effective when started at any age for older dogs.

Ensure Safety

Lead training enhances safety ensuring public safety and adherence to laws surrounding dog behaviour.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Always use positive reinforcement such as treats and praise to encourage good behaviour.

Teach Non-pulling Behaviour

The goal of lead training is to teach your dog calm, non-pulling walking behaviour for enjoyable walks.

Maintain Consistency

Being consistent with training methods and commands is crucial for your dog to learn effectively.

Select the Appropriate Lead

Choose the right type of lead based on your dog’s size and behaviour, with fixed-length leads generally offering better control for training.

Implement Effective Techniques

Utilise effective training techniques that include consistent, patient training sessions and positive reinforcement.

Prioritise Comfort

When using any training lead, always ensure your dog’s comfort and avoid any form of excessive force.

The Advantages of Lead Training for Dogs

A well-trained dog that walks on a lead is under control and less likely to get into accidents or cause them. Training ensures their safety and protection and also makes them more sociable around people and other dogs.

Think about the world from their perspective; they are instinctual, amygdala centric beings. When faced with a threatening situation, they may “fight” or “flight”. Due the conditions of being on-lead, “flight” may not be an options. Inadvertently, we may set the conditions for “fight”. If this is occurring with your dog, you may want to read more about dog aggression and behaviour modification techniques.

Lead training also allows you to take your dog to public spaces, such as parks and beaches, where dogs are required to be on a lead. A well-trained dog that walks on a lead is more likely to be accepted in these areas and will enjoy the outing while remaining under your control. The setup you choose here is crucial. Longer leads can work well to give you dog some choice and freedom, too an extent!

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Teaching Dogs to Walk on a Lead

Training your dog to walk on a lead is not difficult, but it requires patience and consistency. It’s important to avoid pulling or using physical force on the lead to correct your dog’s behaviour. Instead, positive training methods are more effective, such as offering rewards and praise for good behaviour.

Teaching your dog to walk on a lead can be broken down into several steps, starting with getting your dog used to wearing a collar, or harness preferably, and lead. It’s important to choose a comfortable and appropriate collar, harness and lead that fits your dog correctly, and to praise and reward them for wearing it.

How to Train Your Dog to Walk on Lead

Introduction to the Harness or Collar and Lead

  • Choice of Equipment: Select a comfortable and appropriate harness or collar for your dog. Ensure it fits well without causing discomfort.
  • Acclimatisation: Allow your dog to sniff and investigate the harness or collar and lead. Offer treats and praise to create a positive association.
  • Wearing the Equipment: Put the harness or collar on your dog in a calm environment. Reward them with treats and praise for staying calm and accepting it.

Indoor Familiarisation

  • Initial Indoors Training: With the lead attached, let your dog walk around indoors. Keep the lead loose and praise them for calm behaviour.
  • Short Indoor Walks: Walk your dog on the lead indoors, guiding them gently. Use treats to encourage and reward moments of loose lead walking.

Introduction to Outdoor Environment

  • First Outdoor Experiences: Begin in a quiet, familiar outdoor space. Allow your dog to explore while keeping the lead loose.
  • Distraction Management: Gradually introduce more distracting environments. Use high-value treats to maintain their focus on you.

Loose Lead Walking Training

  • Encouraging Focus: Hold treats in your hand near your waist to encourage your dog to stay close and focus on you.
  • Rewarding Loose Lead: Whenever the lead is loose and your dog is walking calmly, immediately reward them with treats and praise.
  • Stopping Technique: If your dog pulls, stop walking. Only proceed when the lead is loose again. Use treats to lure them back to your side if necessary. Changing direction also helps.

Consistent Reinforcement

  • Reinforcement: Continuously reinforce loose lead walking with treats and praise.
  • Gradual Reduction of Treats: Over time, reduce the frequency of treats but maintain praise. Replace food rewards with life rewards, like sniffing a tree or greeting a familiar person.

Handling Distractions

  • Training in Distracting Environments: Practice in various settings with different levels of distractions.
  • Positive Interruption: Use a cheerful voice to regain your dog’s attention if they get distracted, and then reward them for refocusing on you.

Building Endurance and Distance

  • Gradual Increase: Slowly increase the distance and duration of walks as your dog becomes more comfortable and consistent with loose lead walking.

Patience and Consistency

  • Regular Practice: Consistent, daily practice is key to success.
  • Patience: Be patient and understanding. Progress can vary greatly between individual dogs.

Safety and Well-being

  • Monitoring for Signs of Stress: Always monitor your dog for signs of stress or discomfort. Adjust the training pace accordingly.
  • Avoid Physical Corrections: Never use physical force or corrections. This can cause fear or anxiety, hindering progress.

Choosing the Right Lead for Training

When it comes to lead training, choosing the right lead plays a crucial role in your dog’s success. Different types of leads are available in varying lengths and materials, so it’s essential to choose the best dog lead for training.

Using Training Leads for Dogs

If you have a dog that pulls on the lead, a training lead can be a useful tool in teaching them lead manners. Training leads are longer than regular leads and provide more control over your dog’s movements during training sessions.

How to Use a Training Lead for Dogs

When using a training lead, it’s essential to ensure your dog’s safety and comfort. Here are some tips on using a training lead for dogs:

  • Start with short training sessions to avoid overwhelming your dog
  • Use positive reinforcement techniques to encourage good behaviour
  • Never use excessive force or yank on the lead as it can cause injury or discomfort to your dog
  • Avoid using retractable leads as they can make it difficult to control your dog
  • Use a harness instead of a collar to prevent discomfort or choking

Training Leads for Dogs that Pull

If your dog pulls on the lead, a training lead can be an effective way to manage this behaviour. When choosing a training lead for a pulling dog, consider the following:

  • Length – a longer lead allows for more control and manoeuvrability during training sessions
  • Thickness – a thicker lead provides a better grip and control for the handler
  • Material – consider a lead made with non-slip material to prevent slipping and avoid rope burns on your hands

Examples of Training Leads for Dogs

There are several types of training leads available, including:

Lead TypeFeatures
Slip leadEmergency use only. Not for day-to-day training
Long line leadGreat for outdoor training, long-distance recall training, and providing your dog with more freedom while maintaining control
Training harnessProvides greater control over your dog’s movements, and helps prevent pulling
Multiclip training leadOffers versatile attachment options for varying levels of control and training scenarios

When choosing a training lead for your dog, consider your dog’s breed, size, and specific training needs. With the right training lead and techniques, your dog can learn to walk on a lead without pulling, making walks more enjoyable for both you and your furry friend.

Our Favourite Dog Training Lead

Multi-Clip Training Lead

Top Selling

Multi-clip Training Lead

  • Multi-functional double-ended lead that can be used in 7 different ways

  • Made from lightweight premium webbing, giving it both strength and comfort for everyday use in all weather

  • 2 trigger clips which allow for 2 points of connection and other versatile uses


Effective Lead Training Techniques

Lead training can be a challenging process, but with patience and positive reinforcement, you can teach your dog proper leash manners. Here are some effective lead training techniques to help eliminate pulling on the leash and achieve loose leash walking:

Prevention Measures for Rage Syndrome in Dogs
  • Positive reinforcement: Use treats or verbal praise to reward your dog for good behaviour, such as walking by your side without pulling. This will encourage your dog to repeat the behaviour and associate it with a positive outcome.
  • Loose leash walking: Teach your dog to walk with a loose leash by stopping and changing direction as soon as your dog starts to pull. This will help your dog learn to pay attention to you and keep the lead loose.
  • Consistency: Consistency is key when it comes to lead training. Use the same commands and reward system every time you walk your dog to reinforce good behaviour and prevent confusion.
  • Engagement: Teaching your dog to make eye contact with you on walks can help train an alternate behaviour that is not compatible with pulling on lead.

Remember, lead training takes time and effort, but the rewards of a well-behaved dog are worth it. With these lead training techniques, you can enjoy pleasant walks with your dog without the frustration of pulling on the leash.

How to Train Your Dog to Walk on Lead Examples

Husky being trained to walk on a loose lead

German Shepherd being trained to walk on a loose lead

Long Line Training for Dogs

Long line training is a great way to give your dog more freedom while still maintaining control on walks. It’s important to choose the best long training lead for your dog’s size and weight. A lead that is too heavy can be uncomfortable, while a lead that is too light may not provide enough control. A good rule of thumb is to use a lead that is at least 30 feet long for larger dogs and 20 feet long for smaller dogs.

When starting long line training, it’s best to work in a safe, enclosed area such as a fenced-in yard or park. Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog, rewarding them with treats and praise when they stay near you. Practice calling your dog back to you and rewarding them when they come back promptly.

Benefits of Long Line Training

Long line training can help your dog learn good leash manners. It gives them the opportunity to explore the environment while still being under your control. This type of training can also be useful for dogs that are anxious or reactive. Long line training allows them to move away from potential triggers while still being under your guidance.

Overall, using a long line for training can provide many benefits for both you and your dog. With patience and consistency, your dog can learn to walk politely on a leash while still enjoying their walks to the fullest.

Our Favourite Dog Lead:

Supergrip Leads

Top Selling

Julius K9 Supergrip Lead

  • Designed to be easy to hold and not to become slippery in wet weather conditions

  • The rubber threads woven into its material ensure optimum grip 

  • Available in a range of lengths, with or without handle, and is made from extra strong and durable but comfortable to hold


Outdoor Training Line Leads for Dogs: A Guide to Effective Use

Outdoor training line leads are a vital tool for responsible dog owners, aiming to balance freedom and control during outdoor training sessions. These specialised leads stand out from standard leashes due to their length, granting your dog the liberty to explore while you maintain command. They are particularly beneficial for:

Gradual Lead Training Techniques for Dogs
  • Familiarisation: Let your dog first become accustomed to their surroundings without a lead.
  • Gradual Introduction: Slowly introduce the lead, allowing your dog to get used to its feel and length.
  • Incremental Training: Begin with shorter distances, practicing recall and obedience, and progressively increase the separation between you and your dog.

When opting for outdoor training line leads, consider the following to ensure safety and effectiveness:

Lead Training and Safety Tips for Dogs
  • Length of the Lead: Choose a lead that’s at least 10 meters long to provide ample space for your dog to roam freely yet remain within a safe range, especially in open areas like fields or parks.
  • Supervision: Always keep a watchful eye on your pet when using the lead to prevent entanglement or injuries.
  • Prevent Jerking: Train your dog to halt before reaching the end of the lead to avoid sudden jerking motions, which could be harmful.
  • Suitability: Be mindful that outdoor training line leads may not be appropriate for every dog. For pets prone to running away or those that are highly distractible, alternative training methods should be considered.

To introduce an outdoor training line lead to your dog, follow these expert steps:

Gradual Lead Training for Dogs
  • Familiarisation: Let your dog first become accustomed to their surroundings without a lead.
  • Gradual Introduction: Slowly introduce the lead, allowing your dog to get used to its feel and length.
  • Incremental Training: Begin with shorter distances, practicing recall and obedience, and progressively increase the separation between you and your dog.

Choosing the Best Long Training Lead for Dogs

When choosing a long training lead for your dog, consider the material as well. Nylon is a good option for most dogs, but larger dogs may do better with braided line for added strength. Leather is also a good option for durability, but it requires more maintenance to avoid cracking or drying out. They can also become slippy when wet so be careful!

Our Favourite Dog Lead:

Supergrip Leads

Top Selling

Julius K9 Supergrip Lead

  • Designed to be easy to hold and not to become slippery in wet weather conditions

  • The rubber threads woven into its material ensure optimum grip 

  • Available in a range of lengths, with or without handle, and is made from extra strong and durable but comfortable to hold


Benefits of Using Outdoor Training Line Leads

There are several benefits to using outdoor training line leads for your dog’s training. These include:

  • Increased freedom of movement for your dog
  • Greater control for you during training sessions
  • Ability to train your dog’s recall from a distance
  • Opportunity to practice off-leash training in a controlled environment
  • Helps dogs learn to obey commands even when they are not within arm’s reach

Overall, outdoor training line leads can be an excellent tool for teaching your dog obedience and developing a strong bond. With proper usage, they can provide your pet with the freedom they crave while keeping them safe and under your control.

Additional Training Tips and Resources

Congratulations on taking the initiative to train your dog on a lead! Along with the tips and techniques provided in the previous sections, here are some additional resources and recommendations to aid in your lead training efforts:

Best Dog Lead for Puppy Training

For puppy training, a lightweight and adjustable lead is recommended. The MultiClip training lead is a great option, as it’s made with soft and comfortable materials that won’t chafe your puppy’s delicate skin. The lead is also adjustable, ensuring a perfect fit as your puppy grows.

Top Selling

Multi-clip Training Lead

  • Multi-functional double-ended lead that can be used in 7 different ways

  • Made from lightweight premium webbing, giving it both strength and comfort for everyday use in all weather

  • 2 trigger clips which allow for 2 points of connection and other versatile uses


Slip Lead Training for Dogs

Slip leads are an effective tool for managing dogs in emergency situations only. They are not recommended for daily use. The best slip lead training for dogs is to restrict their use for situations like emergency vet checks or where clipping a lead on may not be practical. 

Slip lead training for dogs requires careful consideration of the animal’s comfort and safety. Slip leads, which can tighten around a dog’s neck when they pull, are a practical tool for managing and guiding dogs in specific, controlled (usually emergency) scenarios. However, their use should be limited to situations where traditional leads may not be suitable, such as in emergency situations or when handling an unfamiliar dog that may not tolerate a regular collar or harness.

How to Train Your Dog to Walk on Lead

When Utilising Slip Leads:

  • They should be seen as a temporary measure, primarily for safety during unforeseen circumstances.
  • It is vital to ensure that they are used correctly to prevent discomfort or injury to the dog.
  • Handlers should be trained to avoid excessive force.

Key Points in Slip Lead Training Include:

  • Emergency Use: Reserve slip leads for emergencies, such as an unexpected need for control or during a veterinary visit.
  • Short Duration: Use slip leads for the shortest time possible to minimise any potential discomfort for the dog.
  • Alternative Tools: Emphasize the importance of using fixed collars or harnesses for regular training and walks, as they distribute pressure more evenly around the dog’s neck or body.

Leads for Nervous Dogs

When training a nervous dog to walk on a lead, it is essential to prioritize their comfort and security. For these sensitive canines, using a well-fitted, comfortable harness instead of a traditional collar can significantly reduce stress and increase control.

Begin by allowing your dog to familiarize themselves with the harness and lead in a safe, familiar environment, pairing it with positive reinforcement. Gradually introduce short, calm walks, ensuring to avoid overwhelming stimuli. Remember, patience and consistent, gentle guidance are key.

This approach not only nurtures trust but also empowers nervous dogs to gain confidence, transforming lead walks into enjoyable experiences for both dog and owner.

About Me

Jim Gillies, a Certified Dog Behaviourist and Trainer in Glasgow with over 10 years of experience, prioritises canine well-being through modern, science-backed methods. Handling 4000+ cases of 1-to-1 behaviour training, Jim is fully accredited, insured, and recognised for addressing various behavioural issues including aggression, separation anxiety, and more. Jim holds qualifications in level 5 (merit) Advance Diploma Canine Behaviour Management and level 6 Applied Animal Behaviour. Explore his insightful blog and podcast, sharing expert knowledge on dog training and behaviour. Certified by the IAABC, Jim’s expertise makes him a reliable choice for addressing your dog’s needs.

Contact Information

Should you have any questions about this article, feel free to contact me on:


Mobile: 07864029933


Please note that I am an Amazon Affiliate, and the products recommended in this guide are sold on Amazon. For each product listed, I have provided a hyperlink that directs you to the Amazon page where you can make a purchase. Should you decide to buy any of the products through the provided links, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. This affiliate commission helps to support my work and continue providing valuable information to my readers. Thank you for your support!

How to Train Your Dog to Walk on Lead – FAQ

FAQ on How to Train Your Dog to Walk on Lead

Why is it important to train my dog to walk on a lead?
Training your dog to walk on a lead is crucial for their safety and the safety of others. It helps prevent them from running into traffic, approaching dangerous areas, or interacting with other animals or people who may not welcome the interaction.
At what age should I start lead training my dog?
You can begin lead training as soon as your puppy has had its vaccinations and is allowed outside. This is typically around 8 to 10 weeks of age. Starting early can establish good habits from the beginning.
How can I prevent my dog from pulling on the lead?
To prevent pulling, you can use reward-based training. Every time your dog walks beside you without pulling, reward them with a treat or praise. If they begin to pull, stop walking until they come back to your side. Consistency and patience are key.
What type of lead is best for training?
A standard fixed-length lead is often recommended for training, as it provides consistent boundaries for your dog. Retractable leads can be confusing during training because the boundaries are not consistent.
Can I train an older dog to walk on a lead?
Yes, older dogs can learn to walk on a lead. The process may require more time and patience, as older dogs may have established habits that need to be changed. However, with consistent training and rewards for positive behavior, most older dogs can learn to walk calmly on a lead.

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