The number one way to get your dog to walk well on their leash, according to an expert trainer

Woman walking her dog on a lead through a park on an autumn day
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Do you struggle to get your dog to walk well on their lead? If so, you're in good company. Even armed with the best dog treats to use as a reward, most of us find this particular training task one of the most challenging aspects of being a pet parent - and as it turns out, it could all be down to us making one simple mistake. 

In a video posted to Instagram, trainer Kat Heckert from JW Dog Training and Behavior explains how many clients are often surprised when she turns up at their home to help them with leash walking only for her to conduct the first session in their living room.

"Surprisingly, this is actually an important way to do it," Heckert explains. "If you want a behavior outside on walks, practice it inside first. The more you practice inside, the more likely it is that your dog will be able to respond outside."

While this may sound like a strange training technique to improve leash walking, Heckert says it's important for several reasons.

"Learning a new skill is best done in a low distraction, stress free environment. You might find that you yourself feel more comfortable and less stressed learning these new dog training skills inside instead of outside as well."

According to Heckert, if you want your dog to be able to hold up well around distractions, a behavior needs to be incredibly strong and reliable - which takes a lot of training and practice.

"Rushing the process and moving to a distracting environment too soon can cause confusion and frustration for both ends of the leash," she says. "The more you practice inside, the more familiar a behavior can become to your dog. Almost like muscle memory! Training inside absolutely pays off outside."

Heckert says that it's not unusual for pet parents to get impatient and say to her "we need this behavior outside! We should be training there!," but she says it's crucial that the step of training indoors first is one that shouldn't be missed. "Trust the power of a rock solid foundation. It is worth the time and energy!"

If you try Heckert's tip and find your dog is struggling with the exercise, we recommend attaching a leash to your dog so you are setting them up for success. Some puppies or dogs may not have the focus to walk right beside you at first so using a leash will help. Alternatively, speak to a professional trainer who will be able to offer you some 1:1 support and guidance that's been tailored to meet the specific needs of your fur friend. 

For more great training tips and tricks, check out our guide to how to stop your puppy crying in crate.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.