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101 – Training a Rescue Dog To Walk On A Leash Effectively

Training a rescue dog to walk on a leash

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Training a rescue dog to walk on a leash in a safe and enjoyable way is one of the most important steps to building a happy life for you and your new furry family member.

Every time I have worked with a rescue dog, I am humbly reminded just how unique each pup is. Your new rescue dog comes parcelled and packaged with his very own back story that you may not even be aware of. After all, we don’t call them rescued dogs for no reason!

This is why following rescue dog training programs can be so helpful. The more tools you have in your doggy training toolbox, the better.

Training a rescue dog to walk on a leash

Problems When Training A Rescue Dog To Walk On A Leash

When you take your rescue dog out for walks, you may want to hide your face in embarrassment. Maybe he drags you off your feet in excitement, or even worse, plants his tail on the ground and refuses to walk!

There are many unexpected things that can go wrong. Here are a few common problems when training a rescue dog to walk on a leash:

  • Shying away from the leash
  • Gnawing or biting onto the leash
  • Panic when the leash is attached
  • Excessive pulling
  • Refusal to walk
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Distracted behavior
  • Hyperactivity

rescue dog scared of the leash

Here are 8 other important things you need to know about rescue dogs!


Reasons Why Your Rescue Dog Is Scared Of A Leash

We often don’t know the history of a rescue dog. So, it isn’t always easy to understand why your new friend is acting in this strange way. Training a rescue dog to walk on a leash should be simple, right? Not always!

Rescue dogs may not have the skills or comfort required to walk on a leash safely, whether they are a puppy or fully grown. Some adult rescue dogs will still need house training.

If your rescue dog is acting strangely when you try to take them for a walk, consider that:

  • They may have never worn a leash before.
  • They could have traumatic memories attached to wearing a leash.
  • They may not be relaxed enough to venture outside your home yet.
  • They might not have any prior training to walk quietly on a leash.

dog walking

5 Easy Steps To Leash Train A Rescue Dog

Depending on your rescue dog’s behavior, you can start at a different step to meet his comfort level. Too scared? Start from Step 1. Too excited? Step 3 should do the trick!

Remember, a mentally stimulated pup is a happy one. If your dog gets too bored your efforts may work against you. So, make sure he is still learning, even if that means finding rescue dog training programs to add new techniques to your walking regime.

Step 1: Introduce The Leash

Quietly introduce the leash to your fluffy companion by leaving it around the house for him to find. Allow him to sniff it and become familiar with it.

Just make sure this is a supervised interaction as the next thing you know his leash might become yesterday’s chew toy!

Step 2: Use Games To Establish A Positive Connection

Once you are able to clip the leash to your rescue dog’s collar or harness, let it go. Allow him to walk around the house or yard freely with the leash attached.

Encourage him to play and make sure it is a very positive experience. Always keep high-reward treats with you from this step onwards to really make him feel like a good boy.

You can play any games you know, or find fun games from rescue dog training programs like the Brain Training 4 Dogs program.

I recommend this fun and extensive course because it covers every aspect of training your rescue dog, using methods that I would use myself. Even rescue dog house training can be turned into a game!

Step 3: Practice Walking On The Leash At Home

Now that you’ve established good trust in the leash, you can pick up the handle and practice training your rescue dog in the house.

If he is anxious on the leash, encourage him with great enthusiasm to follow you. When he does, make a big fuss and give him a yummy, high-reward treat.

If he is overexcited on the leash, stop walking. Remain calm and wait for him to relax or slow down. As soon as he stops or waits to look at you, quietly give him a treat with a relaxed “Good boy” before continuing.

Practice for 10 minutes every day and just watch the improvement!


Step 4: Slowly Increase The Challenge

When you and your rescue dog are ready, slowly increase the challenge. You can start by venturing out for a short walk in a familiar place. Observe his behavior and practice as you would at home.

Use tried and tested methods from professional rescue dog training programs to help you face challenges correctly and safely.

Step 5: Enjoy Regular Walks!

Keep practicing your walks every day. If you feel you’ve had a setback, simply go back a couple of steps and continue building your foundation.

Only move forward when you feel confident. Dogs can literally smell fear. Okay… Maybe not literally, but you know what I mean!

dog training

Keep Calm and Try Something New

Training a rescue dog to walk on a leash comes with many advantages. For instance, if your rescue dog needs house training, walking calmly on a leash will be a big help, especially if he doesn’t have free reign in a big backyard to do his business.


The biggest thing to keep in mind is that your confidence and patience will certainly rub off on your doggy. Just keep up the good work, and when in doubt, don’t be afraid to try a new training program to help build up your skills.

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