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How to Train Your Dog to Walk Nicely on a Leash

Going for a walk with your dog should be a pleasant activity. You get some time to breathe in fresh air, your pet gets to explore the sights and smells of the world, and you both get a little exercise. Because of these benefits, it is recommended that your dog get a 10 to 15-minute walk multiple times each day. 


However, all of this is ruined if your dog doesn’t walk nicely. Some dogs pull so hard or get distracted on walks that it is a pain to head out with them. Others refuse to walk and make you feel like you have to pull them along to get them anywhere. 


Fixing your walks is a matter of properly training your dog to walk nicely on a leash. Doing this lets you and your furry friend get the most out of your time outdoors. Keep reading to learn how to train a dog to walk on a leash so you can enjoy your walks.

How to Train a Dog to Walk on a Leash Nicely

You can train your dog to walk with you by following a simple process. This will teach them a few tricks and instill some good behaviors. 

A young child walking a large dog on a leash

Get Your Dog Used to the Leash

In many cases, dogs don’t walk well because they hate wearing a leash or simply aren’t used to it. So, you can start to address the problem by getting them used to the leash. You can do this by simply putting it on them while they are at home and interacting with them. Play around with them and give them treats so they start to associate good activities with having a leash on. 

Teach Your Pet to Come to You

Your pet should come to you when you call them. If they don’t already have this command learned, you should teach it to them. To do this, simply call them while holding a treat in your hand. When they come to you, reward them with the treat. 

Make Them Follow You When You Call 

Now, you are ready to build on this initial command. Call your pet to you with a treat in hand, but don’t give them the treat quite yet. Instead, walk for a short distance, making sure they are following alongside you. You may have to start with very short distances at first but can build to longer and longer distances after a while. 


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Have Them Repeat the Trick with a Leash On

With your dog now capable of coming to you and following you, you can repeat the same trick while they have their leash on. They may be initially resistant to the idea, but since they already understand parts of the process, they should pick it up relatively quickly. 

Practice Walking Inside

You can now effectively practice walking your dog. Have them come to you, attach their leash, and walk them around. Start doing this inside your home for short distances. Keep walking for longer and longer periods until you feel like your pet has the hang of things. 

Practice Walking Outside

Do the same thing you did in the previous step, but take the walk outside. Again, you may want to keep your walks short at first. However, after a while, you can make them longer and longer. If your dog tries to pull away or gets distracted, just use your walk as an opportunity for training and call them to you. You can even reward them with a treat to get them back on track. Eventually, you’ll be able to do a full walk with no problem. 

Addressing Issues on Walks

While you can train your dog to walk perfectly, it is likely that they won’t do this right away. You are still going to experience some problems as they get used to walking the right way. Knowing what these issues are and how to respond to them will help. 

A dog sits in the grass while looking upwards

Addressing Pulling

One of the most common problems on walks is pulling. Your dog wants to go in their own direction and tries to pull you to do so. 


The best thing you can do is stand your ground and stand firm. Let them pull, but don’t move a muscle in their direction. Eventually, they will understand that their pulling is getting them nowhere and give up.

Addressing Lunging

Some pets don’t constantly pull toward something; they execute dramatic lunges. With these, they suddenly dart toward something and try to pull you with them. This is not only just annoying; it is dangerous. If your dog lunges, you may lose your grip on them, and they could get free, allowing them to jump in front of a car or some other danger. Jumping in front of cars injures thousands of dogs each year. 


The best way to address this is to stop it before it has a chance to start. Learn the type of things that your dog lunges toward. When you see something like this approaching, you can distract them with a command or a treat. This will prevent the behavior. 


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Addressing Refusal to Walk

Some dogs will suddenly decide that they don’t want to walk anymore. When this happens, they will try to put the walk to an end by refusing to move. 


Before addressing this problem, you should make sure that the behavior isn’t coming from a place of pain. Ask yourself if the ground is too hot for them to walk on or if something is hurting your dog’s paws. You should also be on the lookout for other signs that they are experiencing discomfort or some sort of pain. If this is the case, either end the walk and return when it is safe or reach out to a veterinarian to help solve the issue. 


However, if your dog is refusing to walk due to stubbornness, you need to address their behavior. You can try rewarding them with a treat to keep them going. You can also try taking them to a place they like or doing a fun activity with them to encourage them. 

Walking in Harmony with Your Dog

Your daily walk with your dog shouldn’t be a struggle. However, pulling, lunging, and refusing to move will make it one. Luckily, with a little training, you can go from annoying walks to walks that both you and your dog will enjoy. 


Related: Unleash the Adventure: Road Trip Tips for Dog Parents

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