Teaching Your Dog to Walk Well on Leash

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You’ve probably been there before. You want to take your dog for a walk, but your dog takes you for a walk.

Blog courtesy of US Service Dog Certification

You’ve probably been there before. You want to take your dog for a walk, but your dog takes you for a walk. Maybe your parents can’t walk your dog, or your child can’t walk your dog because the dog pulls too much for them. Maybe you’ve tried, but nothing works.

It seems like you have a dog that likes to lead, right?

Well, this is really a misconception. Dogs have no reason to pull in front of you except that you let them. That’s right, you.

We know, we know. You try to pull them back and keep going forward, so that’s the routine you settle into.

Here’s a secret. Dogs follow a routine. Whatever you do with them always is what they will do. If you pull them back for 10% of the walk and let them lead for 90% of the walk, that’s where they are going to walk.

Instead, it’s up to you to teach them how to walk properly and set them up for success. If you’ve decided to certify your dog as an emotional support animal, they must behave well in public. Walking at your side is an important part of your dog’s good behavior.

Here are some quick tips to get you ready to train your dog.

Tip 1: Start with a short leash

There is no reason to use a long extendable leash for your dog. In fact, these leashes are dangerous and can be a choking hazard for you and other dogs.

Tip 2: Plan on having nowhere to go

When training your dog to walk, don’t have a destination in mind. You’re going to need to stop a lot, like every single time the dog pulls. So if you’ve got somewhere to be, you’re going to get impatient.

Tip 3: Bring a treat pouch

Hopefully, your dog is treat motivated. If they are, you’ve got a head start on this whole walking thing. You can use treats to lure your dog to the correct walking position.

Tip 4: Use a harness

You might think a harness will be easier to control your dog with. It’s really just about keeping their neck and trachea safe, especially if you have a little dog. You still don’t want your dog to pull even if they have a harness.

If you’ve got your short leash, harness, treat pouch, and nothing but time, then you are ready to get started.

The first thing is dog placement.

Decide if you want your dog to walk on your left or right side and do that consistently. Your dog’s nose should be around where your knee is, so their body is behind you, and their head is right alongside you.

Next set boundaries

If your dog walks too far ahead of you, stop walking immediately and call them back. Show them where they should stand. This is when you can pull out a treat and lure them to the correct spot.

When they return to the right spot, take another step forward. They will probably immediately pull again. That is completely normal. Just stop and call them back. Repeat this until they get the hang of it.

That’s it! There is no crazy secret. You’ve just got to keep your dog on a short leash, tell them where you want them to walk, and don’t walk if your dog is pulling you.


This is just one way to teach a dog not to pull on a leash.  For other ways to teach a dog to walk politely on a leash, visit other posts on Spike’s Dog Blog.



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