Here’s what to do when training your dog to walk well on a leash

Dog pulling on leash
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the Instagram post cited below.

Being well-behaved when walking on a leash is something all dogs need to learn. 

After all, you don’t want your dog trying to dart off when you’re holding the leash in one hand and some of the best dog treats in the other – at best, it’s mildly annoying, and at worst, you could accidentally let go, and this could be dangerous. 

But, like with any aspect of training, some pups find walking well on a leash easier than others. 

So, what can you do if it’s something you’re struggling with? 

Fortunately, certified dog trainer Melissa Goodman of Mission Pawsitive has shared some advice in a recent Instagram post that will help you learn how to stop a dog pulling on a leash

She explains, “When training your dog to walk well on a leash, every walk is a training walk for a while and everything you do or don’t affects their behavior.”

And it begins before you actually go anywhere. Do your best to get your dog to engage with you right from the beginning, even before you leave the house. When they’re nice and calm, you’ll find that the walk itself will likely be more enjoyable for both of you, and that your dog will be more inclined to be responsive and engaged throughout. 

Goodman also suggests focusing on the skills you’d like your dogs to develop during the walk, rather than the length of the walk. When training, it doesn’t really matter how far you go, but what you learn!

In the video, Goodman is walking Golden Retriever Gigi, and explains that she starts her with impulse control at the side gate before leaving. She opens the gate, but before they walk out of it, Goodman ensures that Gigi engages with her and is focused first. 

And because they have to walk down some steps to get to the sidewalk, Goodman keeps Gigi engaged throughout – with plenty of treats – so that she doesn’t get too excited and risk injuring her by pulling her down. 

While on the walk itself, Goodman stops at potential distractions, like passersby, showing Gigi that you can acknowledge them but without getting overexcited and pulling on the leash. 

“She’s a very social dog who tends to pull and get overly excited by people and other dogs,” she explains. While it’s great to have a social dog, you don’t want your dog to stop and greet absolutely everybody. 

Another piece of advice from Goodman is to practice “settling” when on a walk. She puts down a towel for Gigi on the sidewalk, giving her the chance to lie down and settle for a while, encouraging her to be calm when in public. 

And finally, don’t forget to give your pup the chance to sniff around – on a loose leash if possible (just watch out for three of the most common loose leash walking mistakes!)

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.