Pro Tips for Leash Walking

Leash skills are an important part of every dog’s life, but also one of the top behavior problems pet parents face. Good leash skills make walks, runs, hikes, trips to public spaces and dog-friendly stores, and greeting others (both dogs and people) a stress-free, enjoyable experience!

Here are tips to practice leash-walking while making it fun and safe for you and your dog:

Pick the right leash

  • Harnesses, gentle leaders, and other training tools are not meant to fix a pulling problem long term, and some types (like a back-clip harness) can make a dog to want to pull more.
  • These tools are not a replacement for training good leash skills, they are meant to assist a pet parent and dog by supporting the training process.

Use exciting rewards

  • Select treats or rewards your dog doesn’t get access to often.
  • Sometimes the environment can be as rewarding as a treat or toy (see “please and thank you,” below.)

Vary where you practice

  • Work on leash training inside your home or in other, less-distracting environments to start.
  • Work your way to the yard, neighborhood block and then other, more distracting environments to slowly increase the difficulty.

Incorporate leash walking exercises

  • When working on leash skills, walk in all different directions (forward, backward, sideways) and change directions often.
  • This game can help keep your dog focused on you and looking to you for guidance.

Pro Tip: reward your dog not only when they follow you, but when they make eye contact with you as well!

Practice a “please and thank you”

  • If your pup wants to go sniff the tree five feet away, ask them for a behavior they know well (like a high five, sit, or touch.)
  • When they do it, reward them with the ability to go sniff!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you need additional assistance, seek professional help from a humane dog trainer who uses reward-based methods.