How to Get Your Dog Used to a Leash

Dogs are not born knowing the rules of leash walking. They must be taught how to behave while they’re on one. Many dogs will walk nicely alongside you when attached to a leash, but other dogs need time and patience to get used to it. Some dogs may never like wearing a leash, and that’s fine — but you should know how to safely secure your pup on a leash if you plan to walk together.

Teach him that leashes = good things

Your dog is going to associate his leash with pleasant things. Make sure you have some very tasty treats ready to go, then let him smell the leash before giving him a treat.

Keep your leash out and accessible. If it’s in your pocket or behind your back, he won’t be able to associate it with anything good, because he can’t smell it! You can also attach the leash to your belt or waistband.

If he starts getting antsy, distract him with a yummy treat and then offer the leash again.

Keep in mind that some dogs never like leashes, but if Fido seems okay at first, keep reading!

Start slow

Start by letting your dog get used to wearing his collar for a few minutes before you attach the leash. Put his collar on, then give him some treats. After he’s had enough time to better associate it with good things, go ahead and snap on the leash. Don’t leave it on very long at first—just ten minutes or so is plenty of time. This helps prevent discomfort when wearing a leash.

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Be patient

Give your dog a couple of weeks to get used to his collar and leash before you take him out for a proper walk. If he seems particularly nervous, keep the walks short at first, but gradually work up to longer periods. You can also pair scary things with good things—if Fido’s afraid of cars, for example, give him a yummy treat every time he sees one while on his leash.

Don’t forget about those distractions

If your dog doesn’t like leashes, he’ll definitely be distracted by other things. He might want to stop and smell everything that crosses his path, or maybe just jump on you! When he starts moving toward something that interests him, give him a treat as a sort of reward for walking well.

If he starts jumping around or not paying attention, stand completely still until he calms down. You can also put your hand out in front of him as a sort of ‘stop’ signal, but make sure you give him a treat when he stops moving.

If you stick to these tips, your dog should be walking nicely on a leash in no time at all!