Canine expert shares her five golden rules for teaching your dog how to walk calmly on the leash

Dog walking on a leash in front of it's owner in a park
(Image credit: Getty)

Does your dog pull and drag you down the street, making the whole experience unpleasant and frustrating? Don't worry, you're not alone. Learning how to train a puppy to walk on a leash is something many pet owners struggle with, but it doesn't have to stay that way.

Enter Allegra Kaough, the Naked Dog Trainer who has developed a series of steps to help you teach your dog to walk calmly on a leash, which she shared to Instagram. As the name suggests, the Naked Dog Trainer focuses on stripping away unnecessary tools and equipment and instead relies on communication and connection with your pet. That being said, there isn't anything wrong with using rewards like the best dog treats to encourage good behavior.

One of the key insights of the Naked Dog Trainer is that you're not walking your dog for distance; you're walking for steps. This means that you don't have to push through an unpleasant walk just to get your dog to the end of the block.

Kaough shared in her post, "When I walk a dog it’s for steps, training and mental engagement. To walk forward when a dog isn’t in a calm, tuned-in mindset is UN-TRAINING. It’s rewarding them for a mindset I don’t want them to have and for a behavior (pulling) I want to disincentivize."

The Naked Dog Trainer's approach involves a series of five steps that build on each other. Read her top tips for leash walking below:

  1. The first step is to stop walking forward when your dog isn't in a calm and focused state of mind. Instead, work in place until your dog is relaxed and responsive to you. This may mean doing some basic training exercises or simply waiting until your dog settles down.
  2. The second step is to make sure your dog can be calm and focused inside the house, especially during the leashing and leaving process. This may mean working on basic obedience skills, such as sit and stay, or teaching your dog to settle down and relax on command.
  3. The third step is to give your dog something more interesting to focus on than the environment around them. This may involve playing games or doing training exercises while walking to keep your dog engaged and focused.
  4. The fourth step is to become someone your dog wants to listen to and knows they have to listen to. This means building a strong bond with your dog through positive reinforcement training and showing them that you are a trustworthy and reliable leader.
  5. Finally, the fifth step is to be calm, confident, and directive instead of frustrated, unsure, or reactive. Dogs are very perceptive and can pick up on your emotions, so it's important to remain calm and focused during walks.

By following these five steps, you can teach your dog to walk calmly on a leash and make the whole experience more enjoyable for both you and your furry friend. With a little patience, consistency, and guidance from the Naked Dog Trainer, you can turn those awful walks into a positive and rewarding experience.

If any dog walking issues persist then there is no harm in reaching out to a local trainer for some 1:1 assistance. You can also find out more training advice here on PetsRadar, find out all about how to calm a reactive dog or what the most common loose leash walking mistakes are and how to fix them.

Jessica Downey
Staff Writer

With over a year of writing for PetsRadar, Jessica is a seasoned pet writer. She joined the team after writing for the sister site, Fit&Well for a year. Growing up with a lively rescue lurcher kindled her love for animal behavior and care. Jessica holds a journalism degree from Cardiff University and has authored articles for renowned publications, including LiveScience, Runner's World, The Evening Express, and Tom's Guide. Throughout her career in journalism she has forged connections with experts in the field, like behaviorists, trainers, and vets. Through her writing, Jessica aims to empower pet owners with accurate information to enhance their furry companions' lives.