A Guide to Walking Your Dog with Confidence

Mastering Leash Training

CockerSpaniel.org Volunteer Staff

2/20/20243 min read

brown short coated dog on persons lap
brown short coated dog on persons lap

Choosing the Right Equipment:

Before you begin leash training, it's important to select the right equipment for your dog. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Leash: Choose a leash that is sturdy and comfortable to hold. A standard leash length of 4-6 feet is ideal for most training purposes. Nylon or leather leashes are popular choices, but avoid retractable leashes, as they can encourage pulling and lack control.

  1. Collar or Harness: Select a collar or harness that fits your dog comfortably and securely. For leash training, a flat collar or a front-clip harness is recommended. Avoid choke chains or prong collars, as they can cause discomfort and may not be effective for leash training.

  1. Treats or Rewards: Have plenty of small, soft treats or your dog's favorite toys on hand to use as rewards during training sessions.

Basic Leash Training Steps:

  1. Introduce the Equipment: Allow your dog to become familiar with the leash, collar, or harness by letting them sniff and investigate the items before putting them on.

  1. Desensitization: If your dog is not used to wearing a collar or harness, gradually introduce them to the equipment by putting it on for short periods of time indoors. Offer treats and praise to create positive associations with wearing the collar or harness.

  1. Positive Associations: Associate the leash with positive experiences by giving your dog treats or toys whenever you touch or hold the leash. This helps your dog develop a positive attitude toward the leash and encourages cooperation during training.

  1. Start Indoors: Begin leash training in a quiet, indoor environment with minimal distractions. Attach the leash to your dog's collar or harness and let them drag it around while supervised to get used to the sensation.

  1. Encourage Walking: Use treats or toys to encourage your dog to walk beside you on a loose leash. Start with short walks around the house or yard, rewarding your dog for staying close and walking calmly.

  1. Use Verbal Cues: Introduce verbal cues such as "heel" or "let's go" to signal to your dog when you want them to walk beside you. Use these cues consistently during training to help your dog understand what is expected of them.

  1. Reward Good Behavior: Whenever your dog walks nicely on a loose leash, praise them and offer treats or toys as a reward. Reinforce the behavior by consistently rewarding good leash manners.

  1. Correct Unwanted Behavior: If your dog pulls on the leash or becomes distracted, stop walking and wait for them to calm down before continuing. Avoid yanking or jerking the leash, as this can cause discomfort and may reinforce pulling behavior.

  1. Be Patient and Consistent: Leash training takes time and patience, so be consistent with your training efforts and avoid becoming frustrated if progress is slow. Celebrate small successes and continue to practice regularly.

Advanced Leash Training Techniques:

Once your dog has mastered the basics of leash training, you can introduce more advanced techniques to improve their leash manners further:

  1. Heel Command: Teach your dog to walk politely beside you by using the "heel" command. Practice walking with your dog on a loose leash, rewarding them for staying close to your side.

  2. Distraction Training: Gradually introduce distractions such as other dogs, people, or environmental stimuli during walks to teach your dog to remain focused and responsive to your commands.

  3. Direction Changes: Practice changing directions frequently during walks to keep your dog engaged and attentive. Use verbal cues to signal direction changes and reward your dog for following your lead.

  4. Longer Walks: Gradually increase the duration and distance of your walks as your dog becomes more comfortable and confident on the leash. Provide plenty of opportunities for exploration and mental stimulation during walks.


Leash training is an essential skill for every dog owner and provides the foundation for enjoyable walks and outings with your canine companion. By using positive reinforcement techniques, patience, and consistency, you can teach your dog to walk calmly on a leash and exhibit good leash manners. Remember to choose the right equipment, start training indoors, and progress gradually to more challenging environments. With dedication and practice, you and your dog can enjoy many happy walks together, strengthening your bond and enhancing your relationship along the way.


Leash training is an essential skill for both dogs and their owners. A well-trained dog that walks calmly on a leash not only makes outings more enjoyable but also ensures their safety and the safety of others. Whether you have a new puppy or an adult dog, leash training is a fundamental aspect of obedience training that requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. In this article, we'll provide a comprehensive guide to leash training your dog, from choosing the right equipment to teaching proper leash manners.