Nice Walking on the lead

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Helping your dog to walk comfortably and safely on the lead is essential for enjoying walks together. Whether you’re introducing a puppy to the lead for the first time, or you’re helping your older dog with their walking, read our guide to nice walking created in partnership with Dogs Trust for all the techniques you need.

Enjoying walks is one of the best things about owning a dog and it can be a very exciting part of your dog’s day! From long countryside rambles to quick circuits of a leafy park, walking with your four-legged friend is a great way to increase your bond, to exercise, get mental stimulation, and to have fun together.

Watch and learn step-by-step how to get the best out of your lead-training sessions below.

If your dog is pulling on the lead just remember that there’s lots to explore and your dog is probably just pulling to try and get there faster! To make sure you’re safe from being pulled over, it’s important to teach them to walk calmly.

One of the most common reasons dogs pull on their lead is because they’ve learned that’s how they get to move forward. But, there’s no need to worry about your next walk with your pooch. A few simple training techniques consistently applied can transform your walk. Teaching your dog to walk with a loose lead takes patience and time, but it’ll be well worth it when you’re out on a lovely, calm stroll together.

How to train a puppy to walk nicely on the lead

Bonding with your puppy is such a fun time. They’re cute, playful, loving, and you’re adjusting to your new life with them. The foundations you can set up at this stage will guide the relationship with your dog going forward, so it’s important to make a positive start.

It’s vital when training your puppy to walk on the lead to keep everything fun and positive, and to keep instructions simple. Remember it is normal for your new dog or puppy to make mistakes, help them by rewarding them for the behaviours you do like.

Keep our step-by-step guide handy to refer to when you’re out and about:

Step 1: Choose a place your puppy feels safe and there are no distractions

Start lead training somewhere your puppy is already comfortable, ideally your garden. Remove any toys or distractions from the space. Clip a lightweight lead to your puppy’s harness and let your dog move around the space with the lead attached. Give lots of treats and praise while they’re wearing the harness and lead.

Step 2: Teach your puppy that being near you is rewarding

If you haven’t already, take a look at our guide to using rewards in training, which explains how to introduce a marker to your dog. A marker is a clear signal that tells your dog they’ve got something right and can be really helpful when training a new behaviour.

Starting in your home or garden, mark and reward your dog for offering to sit or stand by your side. It’s much easier for your dog to learn new behaviours in quiet places where they won’t be easily distracted.

Imagine a hula hoop on the floor at your side – you want this to become a zone of rewards for your dog. Whenever they are next to you in this imaginary hoop, mark and reward them. Think about your positioning and how you can make it as easy as possible for your dog.

You may need to hold some tasty treats or a toy to get your dog by your side to start with, before marking and rewarding them. Over time you won’t need to hold this in your hand but remember to always mark and reward them when they stick close to you.

Step 3: Add movement

Once your dog is reliably staying nearby, you can start to add in movement. As you move forward, mark and reward your dog for moving with you. Only take a one step at a time to begin with.

When your dog gets the hang of it, you can start to increase the number of steps you take before rewarding them – remembering to always mark and reward when their lead is nice and loose! Changing direction every so often will teach your dog to keep a close eye on you. Gradually build in more distractions but remember to always go at your dog’s pace. If your dog is struggling, go back to a stage where they were successful and take things slower.

Step 4: Venture out to a quiet park to practice

Now your puppy is comfortable with their collar and harness, and they associate the lead with treats and fun, it’s time to head out to a quiet area to practice some more. Remember, a new place for any puppy can be a little overwhelming. There are new smells, sights, and sounds to process. It’s important to find a quiet area to start walking your dog on the lead. Keep up the praise and treats. If you’re puppy does get distracted or starts pulling it’s OK to stop training or take it back a stage until you feel more confident that they’re listening.

Nice walking with older dogs

If you’ve adopted an older dog, you can absolutely train them to walk well on a loose lead. The first step is to remind your dog that it is rewarding to be near you. This means giving them praise and treats to show them you notice their good behaviour and you’re fun to be around.

Next, double check their collar/harness, and lead is still the right choice for them. Does it need to be adjusted, or perhaps a new one purchased? Making sure your dog is comfortable should always be a priority.

Everything you need to train your dog to walk nicely

This is a super exciting time in your relationship with your dog or puppy. They’ll learn your expectations, and they’ll get the chance to meet other dogs, have fun, and get some exercise. You’re going to need a few things to ensure you can train your dog to walk on a lead, and for it to be a positive experience too.

Collars and harnesses

Your dog should always feel comfortable. Use a flat collar and harness that doesn’t restrict their movement in any way. Choose equipment that is the right size for their age and breed. Use the adjustable buckles to make sure it closely fits but does not rub their skin or restrict their movement.

Introduce the new collar or harness slowly. Your dog should feel safe and relaxed, and you should reward your dog with praise and treats.

Don’t use any collars or harnesses which promise to ‘cure’ your dog of pulling. These usually have sharp sections which cause the dog pain or discomfort when they pull. Some equipment causes pain or discomfort when the dog pulls by putting tension in a sensitive area. This is unnecessary and can be unpleasant and confusing for them.


Choosing the right lead for your dog is important. It’s best to choose a flat lead that will clip nicely to your dog’s harness. Avoid slip leads which can choke your dog, and retractable leads which will encourage your dog to pull.


You’ll need lots of delicious treats for your dog to let them know they’re doing well. Find out what your dog’s favourites are and make sure your dog knows they’re in your pocket. Watch our “Training with Reward” video above to learn how to find your dog’s favourite treat. 

Top tips

  • Get your puppy comfortable wearing a collar making sure the collar is lightweight and the right size for your puppy’s age and breed.
  • Put on the collar and harness a few days before you start training, so your puppy has time to get familiar with it.
  • Choose a place your puppy feels safe with minimal distractions.
  • Use clear verbal cues when teaching your dog.
  • Keep training sessions short and regular.
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How to stop a dog pulling on the lead

Dogs pull because they want to get somewhere faster, because they are excited, or because they have learnt that pulling gets them places. It is essential we help our dogs learn how to walk nicely by only using positive, rewarding methods. Avoid telling your dog off or using the lead to pull your dog into positions.

You can change your dog’s behaviour by acting calmly and positively. If you feel the lead tightening, or your dog is walking in front of you with the lead quite taut, simply stop walking. Watch your dog, and make sure you stop the second they start pulling. This is especially important with larger, stronger breeds. Once you’ve stopped, keep quiet and reward your dog when they return to your side. Only move forward again once the lead is slack and your dog’s attention is back on you. As you start walking, and the lead is loose, reward your dog for showing the behaviour you want.

Other techniques include changing direction or using the “sit” cue, to keep their attention, and then begin the walk again.

If pulling persists, try practising with your dog in a quiet area where there are fewer distractions, make sure the treats are very tasty and motivating, and supplement your walks with extra small training bursts in your garden. The more consistent and clear you can be, the faster your dog will adapt to walking nicely on the lead.

Check your mindset

The lead is a direct communication between you and your dog. Dogs can be extremely sensitive, and they are always alert to you. They might be looking to you for guidance or reassurance and how you feel is going to affect them too.

Keeping a positive mindset and practising when you have plenty of time to spare can be the key to success when helping your dog how to walk nicely on the lead. Training should be a positive experience for you both.

Make sure you keep a positive attitude on your walks. The lead should be slack and relaxed, walk with a natural pace, and ensure your tone of voice is upbeat. If you see a potential distraction that may encourage your dog to pull, such as another person or dog, ask for your dog’s attention by saying their name or showing them a treat. It may help to move further away from the distraction to set you and your dog up for success.

The biggest lesson you need to remember when lead training your dog is that training can take time and patience. Your walks may take a little longer whilst you and your dog are learning as they need regular rewarding for walking nicely. The more consistent and rewarding you can be, the quicker your dog will learn, all whilst having fun too! Having fun when training your dog makes for a strong bond, and brilliant walks.

About Dogs Trust Dog School

Dogs Trust Dog School is a national network of experienced dog trainers providing educational courses and dog training based on up-to-date scientific research for all owners. They are passionate about dog behaviour, and want to help you train your puppy or dog to fit happily into your family life. Dogs Trust Dog School provides fun and educational training classes for you and your dog.

Dogs Trust Dog School prevents relinquishment by equipping the owners of more than 20,000 dogs with the tools to prevent unwanted behaviours from occurring. They enable owners to understand their pooch and enhance the bond with their dog through reward-based methods.

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