How Do I Leash Train a Puppy?

Alex Tree

You can leash train a puppy by first finding a well-fitted collar and then actively training the dog using positive reinforcement. Finding a collar is an important part of leash training, because an ill-fitted collar will either hurt the dog or fit over its head and allow the dog to escape. To actively leash train a puppy, you need to practice walking it on a leash; a puppy will never be properly leash trained without a lot of practice. In addition, using positive reinforcement lets the puppy know it is doing something right and should repeat that action for further praise.

A well-fitting collar is essential to leash training.
A well-fitting collar is essential to leash training.

Start to leash train a puppy as soon as possible, especially if you have a large breed. Large breeds can more easily pull on a leash and go wherever they want, making training difficult. To begin, get a well-fitted collar for the puppy and a short leash. The collar should be checked on a regular basis to ensure the puppy has not outgrown its current setting. You should not be able to pull the collar over the dog’s head, but neither should the dog be pinched at its neck.

Positive reinforcement is an important part of leash training a puppy.
Positive reinforcement is an important part of leash training a puppy.

Hold the leash in one hand and walk in a straight line. If the puppy begins to wander, reverse your direction, but never jerk or pull the puppy. Let the dog know that you wish for it to follow you by having a “follow me” attitude and walking with a purpose. If the dog begins to pull on the leash, immediately stop walking and stand still to let the dog know that pulling does not work with you.

Remember to use positive reinforcement to leash train a puppy. Negative reinforcement, like jerking the dog around on the leash, yelling at it, or punishing it in some other form, often makes the situation worse. Giving the puppy a treat, exclaiming about how good the puppy is, and petting the puppy enthusiastically are all forms of positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement should be used whenever the puppy does something the way you want, especially if it's the first time the puppy performed that action.

You have successfully leash trained a puppy when the leash can be slack but the dog is not lagging behind or pulling ahead. The puppy should be interested in where you plan on going and always follow, even when it smells something interesting. Some breeds of dogs learn new things quicker than others, so have patience when you start to leash train a puppy.

Leash training should begin as early as possible on puppies.
Leash training should begin as early as possible on puppies.

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Discussion Comments


@Logicfiest -- true. I have a rescue dog that I got when she was around two-years-old (that's the age the vet estimated, at least). If I try to walk her on a leash, all she does is lie on the ground and refuse to move. There's not a whole lot that can be done with an animal reacts like that when on a leash.

Had we gotten to her as a puppy, perhaps she would have been trainable.

And she's not the first adult dog that I've tried to train on a leash that has been a problem.


Keep in mind that it is essential to start training a puppy to walk on a leash. If you wait until there is a full grown dog on your hands, the critter will probably be a lot harder to train unless you have the patients of Job or are an expert.

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