Dog Training Leads – How to Use

dog training leads
Photo Credit: Ihtar,

Though the dog lead or leash might seem insignificant, it is one of the most vital tools a dog would need in its lifetime. The training, the outings and even keeping your dog within your eye reach depends on the leash.

It is a tool used to keep a dog under control and to enforce boundaries and behavior as the dog learns what is acceptable and what is not.

Using a dog training lead is acceptable in most state laws and some other states demand that all dogs must be on a leash.

It is now left for the dog owners and parents to learn how to properly use this important training tool and the factors to consider when choosing one from the myriad of choices available in stores.

Types of Dog Leads

Even though it has become clear that every dog needs a lead and a collar, every dog has its own leash that will be most suitable for it.

Some dogs react positively to a type of lead and react negatively to others. Some dogs are easily controlled and corrected in a type of leash than in others.

There are several types of lead available for purchase depending on the breed of the dog and the intended use of the dog lead.

Despite other uses of the dog leads, the main purpose of the leash is to keep the dog under control and safe while in public.

Types of dog leads are:

Standard Dog Lead

This is the most used type of dog leash for training and taking walks. They are usually made with leather, nylon, cotton or even rubber. However, they do not last since they are made of materials that the dog can chew on and tear over time.

Nylon or leather is the best material to choose when buying a standard leash since they are strong enough to hold both a puppy and a full-sized dog.

The standard leash comes in a length of 4-8 feet. The most used length is 6 feet since it allows the dog to have freedom without being too far away from the owner.

Buy this standard dog lead on Amazon

Reflective Dog Lead

This is similar to the standard dog lead and is also made of similar materials. The difference is that the leash is covered with a reflective material that can shine in the dark.

This is used by dog owners that usually walk their dogs in the dark in areas with heavy vehicular activity.

Buy this reflective dog lead on Amazon

Chain Dog Lead

This is just like the standard dog lead, but it is not used by most dog owners. The only difference is that this leash is made of metal and cannot be destroyed when chewed by the dog.

They are available in different thickness and weight and requires ultimate attention on the dog when the leash is being used. This is because some dogs chew on the leash until it begins to damage their teeth.

The age of the dog should also be considered when buying a leash. A lightweight chain should be used for a small dog or puppy and can be changed to a heavier one as the dog grows.

Buy this chain dog lead on Amazon

Retractable Dog Lead

This is a type of lead that the length can be adjusted. This lead is like a tape of about 5-30 feet long and has a lock on the plastic handle.

When this locking mechanism is released, the leash retracts back into the handle. This is designed to allow the person to manage the lead to be able to adjust the length and allow some freedom for the dog to move.

Although this type of dog lead is used by lots of dog owners, it has its own disadvantages. The adjustable length of the leash makes the dog become confused ion the actual distance it can keep from the owner.

This could lead to frequent tugging which could cause unnecessary pulling and possible strangulation from the dog and rope burn for the owner.

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Adjustable Dog Lead

This dog lead is a hybrid of the retractable leash and the standard lead. Unlike the retractable leash, the length of the adjustable leash is increased by adding loops or extra clips to the length of the leash.

The length of this leash can be adjusted up to 6 feet depending on the activities involved. A shorter leash can be used during the training sessions while a longer leash can be used for taking walks.

This leash is more suited for tethering the dog or wrapping around the waist for a few hands-free moments.

Buy this adjustable dog lead on Amazon

The Martingale Leash

This dog lead consists of the martingale collar and the standard lead. The martingale collar, also known as the limited-slip or no-slip collar, is a type of collar that fits loosely on the dog’s neck and gets tighter when necessary.

The martingale dog lead is suitable for training because it tightens around the neck of the dog when it is pulled but does not choke.

Rather, it puts pressure on the neck and makes the dog uncomfortable enough to give up unwanted behavior.

When choosing a martingale lead for your dog, try to get a size that is smaller than the dog’s neck by 2 inches. This will make the lead easier to remove but unable for the dog to slip out of.

Buy this Martingale dog lead on Amazon

Seat Belt Dog Leash

This type of leash is short and has a clip that attaches to the dog’s collar and another clip on the other end that attaches to the seat belt.

This leash is a necessity if you are traveling with your dog and you do not have a dog crate available in the car. This leash will prevent the dog from walking around the car and causing distractions.

This leash could also protect the dog in case of an accident and also prevent the dog from running off before help comes.

Buy this car seat belt dog lead on Amazon

Bike Dog Lead

This is used by dog owners that take their dog for bike rides. The lead can be fastened to the frame of the bike, at the same time, giving the dog an adjustable distance from the bike.

Dogs can also be trained with this leash to run alongside a bike without fear. At first, it might be difficult for the dog to adapt to. But with time and practice, it will become a great tool to give you and the dog a great exercise opportunity.

Buy this bike dog lead on Amazon

Multiple Dog Lead

This is a type of leash that is used when taking more than one dog for a walk. The leash can be attached to a dog, and the second leash extending from the coupler can be used to attach to another dog.

This is best suited for well-trained dogs that do not stray when taking walks. It can be used for more than two dogs, but proper training should be done in a familiar environment before going for a walk where there are a lot of distractions.

Buy this multiple dog lead on Amazon

Halti Dog Lead

This type of dog lead looks like the halters worn by dogs and goes around the snout and head of the dog. This dog training lead is used to prevent the dog from pulling hard on the lead. It is designed to cause them discomfort when they tug hard on the leash.

Buy this halti dog lead on Amazon

How to Use A Dog Training Lead

VIDEO: How To Use A Dog Training Lead.

This video explains how to train a dog using a lead or a slip lead.


Training a dog with a lead requires commitment and patience. It is particularly important to avoid screaming at or scolding your dog during these training activities.

This is because your dog might not fully understand the reason you are angry.

While buying a collar for the dog, it is best to get a lightweight collar and the perfect fit for your dog.

The dog will easily slip out of an oversized collar and will feel chocked on a tight collar. A heavy collar will cause discomfort to the dog or even bruise its neck.

There are few steps to follow to successfully train a dog using a lead. These steps are:

Introduce the Dog to the Collar

When buying a collar, it is a better idea to buy a lightweight type that your dog could hardly feel.

It is also advisable to buy a type you can easily slip on and off without fondling too much and startling the dog, especially if they are not used to putting on a collar.

The first step to training a dog with a lead is to introduce the collar. Immediately it is done, give your dog a treat, so that the dog will associate the collar with rewards.

Do not give your dog a treat when you remove the collar. This is because it will associate the removal of the collar with a treat and then put extra effort to remove it when next you put the collar on its neck.

Increase the time that the dog wears the collar before it is removed. Keep increasing the time until it gets used to wearing the collar. Then it is time to introduce the lead.

Introduce the Dog to the Lead

When the dog gets comfortable with wearing the collar for a prolonged period, introduce the lead. When the lead is attached to the collar, give the dog a treat.

Try to avoid pulling the lead so as not to make the dog realize that the lead could be tugged at.

When the lead is attached to the collar, it is best to call the dog to your side with the use of a treat instead of pulling at the collar.

Alternatively, you can use a favorite toy instead of a treat. Make the dog follow you around the house using the toy or treat as a lure. This will help the dog to build a connection with the collar.

This training is to get the dog to walk beside you while on a lead. To avoid your dog jumping at you, keep the hand holding the treat down. You can form a trail of treats on a walkway and get the dog to walk along and get the treat without pulling.

Factors to Consider Before Training A Dog with A Lead

These are the factors to consider before using a dog training lead.


It is particularly important to pay attention to safety because the lead can be a piece of dangerous equipment. Learn how to use it without wounding yourself or your dog. Follow these procedures to limit the chances of an accident:

  • Do not attach the lead to a choke chain. This may damage the neck tissues or even the larynx of the dog.
  • The dog must wear a collar or harness that the lead will be attached to.
  • Do not hold the lead when the dog is at full speed. This might break its neck.
  • Never allow your dog to swim whilst wearing the training lead.
  • Wear gloves when training a dog with the lead to avoid bruises and rope burns on your hands.
  • Do not use the lead when carrying a gun or hunting equipment.
  • Never tie the lead to a tree or to your waist.

Prevent Awareness

 The lead will lose its value if the dog realizes that the lead is the source of your control over it. It will regard you powerless when you are not tugging at the lead.

This knowledge will make the dog obey you when it is wearing the lead and do its will when you remove it.

This can be prevented by using the lead only as a last resort. Try and look out for the habits you are trying to correct. Be observant to find out before it happens.

Find a way to make yourself the center of attraction so that the dog will not focus its attention on the habit.

For example, if the dog loves chasing insects or other dogs, use the lead only when it is about to elude you. Use cue words or other training tools first to call the dog back to you.

Once the dog comes back, try out familiar activities such as ‘sit’ or ‘lie down’ and give it a treat once the dog complies.

As time goes on, do not rely on the training lead to correct these behavior issues. Use proofing of the environment and distractions more.

Training A Dog with the Lead

Most times, people are not ready to give dog training the amount of time that it actually needs. Training a dog with a lead requires time and patience so that the dog can become aware of the lead and learn new habits with it.

The training lead is not a magic wand and would require at least 3 weeks to correct a bad habit that is acquired recently. A bad habit already established a long time ago by the dog will require a longer time to correct.

It is a bad training habit to use the lead to get your dog’s attention. Fiddling with the lead often will bring your dog attention to the lead and not you necessarily.

Minimize contact with the lead as much as possible. The more you touch the lead, the more the dog loses interest in the training and focuses on the lead.

Any time your dog starts going out of control, pause the training and re-strategize. You can change your training plan and even seek advice from a professional. Break down the problem and map out simple steps to tackle them.

Training the dog in this situation and hoping that things will sort themselves out is not really a clever idea. Do not be afraid of starting the training afresh if the dog is not showing any significant improvement.

Some dogs need to be refreshed of the basics of the training from time to time. Do not always assume that your dog will always remember established behavior.

It is great when you take the dog back to the basics or even start the training all over again. It will help you to know how much progress has been made in the training and to address areas that the dog is still having issues with.

Using a lead to train a dog can be done in the following situations:

Training an Easily Distracted Dog in A Busy Area

When training a dog, it is usually initiated in a quiet and familiar place such as the sitting room or backyard. As the training becomes established, it is advised that the dog should be taken to places the has few distractions.

It is best to proceed with the training of a dog in a planned manner and introduce distractions in levels that will not be too much for the dog to handle. This will make the transition from familiar to unfamiliar environment to become adaptable to the dog.

This transition can be done without a lead if your dog is calm and obedient. However, if your dog has shown signs of being obsessed with chasing smaller animals, it is best to introduce the lead first before attempting to introduce distractions.

Training a dog on a lead is a way to have better control over the dog and prevent it from running off to other animals or other dogs.

The cord also prevents the dog from rewarding itself and to also protect the dog from harm like vehicles.

Using the Dog Training Lead to Correct Established Unwanted Actions

Sometimes, unhealthy habits can be mistakenly rewarded during training and it becomes established. This type of habit is hard to cure since dogs tend to constantly repeat behaviors that they got rewarded for.

These habits may have been established when the dog could self-reward. The lead is therefore needed to curb its freedom to give itself the reward while the negative action is being worked on.

At this stage, the lead is not the only training to rely on. Other positive reinforcement methods of dog training should be used in combination with the dog lead.

Rules to Follow When Training A Dog with A Lead

  • The lead should be worn constantly when the dog is outdoors throughout the training period. This is to generalize the lead. The lead should be worn all the time when the dog is going out not just when you are trying to correct a bad habit or establish new ones.
  • If the lead is used only when it is time to correct habits or training, your dog will find out what you are up to. 
  • Never pull on the lead unless its time to correct a problem. Try not to use the training lead as a conventional lead. Pick it up only when it is time to correct habit. The correct number of times to touch the lead when using it to correct a problem is about 4 times in a month.
  • Do not cut the training time short. To achieve the best results with the lead, use it for at least one month. Allow the dog to wear the lead for a least 1 week before the training starts and 2 weeks after the habit has been corrected.
  • If it is not done this way, the dog might revert to its old habit and even realize it was the lead that gave you control over it.

How to Teach Your Dog to Stop Pulling on The Lead

When using the lead to take a walk, your dog might pull on the lead because it is excited to be out in the open. It might also find a few distractions like a small animal or a flying insect to chase and novel places to explore. This will result in the pulling of the lead.

You will need to train the dog to stop pulling on the lead. Getting your dog to walk on a loose lead in not an automatic process. It takes time and patience which might run into months. Taking walks will take time because you will pause to establish the training sometimes.

The method of training a dog to stop pulling a lead are:

  • Give the dog a reward when it is walking by your side. Carry plenty of treats at the beginning of this training and gradually reduce the number of treats given as the training advances. Give the treat while walking, do not make stops just to give treats.
  • Start this training in a quiet area before you proceed to a noisy and busy area. It is easier for digs to pick up habits in quiet places than in places full of distractions.
  • Do not punish the dog for pulling. It is easier to reward good behavior.
  • Remain consistent. Do not encourage pulling after training your dog to stop it.