Skip to Content

7 Steps to Train an English Bulldog to Walk on Leash

7 Steps to Train an English Bulldog to Walk on Leash

If you’ve got an English Bulldog that isn’t leash trained or doesn’t have the best leash behaviors, you may avoid going on walks together. That’s not good, because going on walks is healthy for both of you! Luckily, a few steps can help you train your English Bulldog to walk on a leash.

How can you train an English Bulldog to walk on a leash?  

  1. Get the correct equipment needed for leash training
  2. Begin preparing for leash training
  3. Start by practicing inside
  4. Begin short and simple outside practice
  5. Prevent and handle pulling behavior
  6. Repeat short and simple outside practice
  7. Begin longer outside walks at different locations

Are you ready to get out walking with your English Bulldog? Look no further – we’ve got a complete guide with 7 steps on how to train your English Bulldog to walk on a leash, from early preparations to going on walks in the great outdoors.

Steps to Training an English Bulldog to Walk on a Leash

Anyone who knows about English Bulldogs likely knows that they’re one of the more stubborn breeds. That hard-headed stubbornness can often make owners worry that it will be tough to train English Bulldogs to walk on a leash.

Fortunately, training an English Bulldog to walk on a leash doesn’t have to be tough! Once you know the best steps to follow, you can begin teaching them to your furry friend – and soon enough, begin enjoying walks together.

Once you’ve finally trained your dog to walk with a leash, you can give them their much-needed exercise. During the process of training them to use a lease, you can this guide to know how much exercise they need.

The first thing you need to do is to get ready for a different type of walk – we’re going to walk you through all the steps for training an English Bulldog to walk on a leash.

Step 1: Get the Equipment Necessary for Leash Training

Before preparing for and beginning the leash training process, you’ll need to make sure you have all the necessary equipment.

Thankfully for you, your pup, and your wallet, there isn’t much equipment needed for leash training.

To begin training your English Bulldog to walk on a leash, you’re going to need:

  • A collar or harness—we highly recommend the harness
  • A high-quality leash
  • Treats

Not too bad, right? You may have to replace an item or two as they wear out or as your English Bulldog outgrows them – however, training your English Bulldog to walk on a leash is easy on just about any budget.

Collars vs. Harnesses

Your furry friend is going to need a harness for the leash to be attached to.   

While collars do indeed work for leash training, it’s best to use a harness when training an English Bulldog to walk on a leash.

In the article “Lead Handling Training and Bulldogs,” Bulldogs World explains there’s a very good reason why English Bulldogs should have harnesses during leash training.

English Bulldogs are brachycephalic, meaning they have a more flattened skull and short nose. These characteristics lead to respiratory problems and make it much harder for English Bulldogs to breathe.  When English Bulldogs have a collar placed around the windpipe, that can make breathing even harder

Additionally, English Bulldogs have many neck folds. While you may think those neck folds provide some extra traction and make it hard for collars to come on and off, the opposite is true. The English Bulldog’s neck folds actually make squeezing out of a regular collar even easier.

There are several reasons we recommend harnesses.

  • They won’t come off, even if an English Bulldog is pulling at the leash.
  • They don’t put any pressure on the windpipe.

Bulldogs World recommends investing in a good quality nylon harness for your English Bulldog, like this adjustable Rabbitgoo Dog Harness on Amazon.  Nylon harnesses are typically adjustable and will allow for some growth of your English Bulldog.

High-Quality Leashes

Leash training wouldn’t be able to happen without one key piece of equipment: a leash.

It’s best to invest in a high-quality leash, especially when just starting out your English Bulldog’s leash training journey.


You don’t want the leash to snap, and you want to make sure to have adequate control of your pup.

Bulldogs World recommends purchasing a 4 to a 6-foot leash for English Bulldogs.

You might want to get a nylon leash to match the material of your English Bulldog’s harness, like the Max and Neo Reflective Nylon Dog Leash that comes in both a 4-foot and a 6-foot length.

Bonus points for dog lovers with the Max and Neo Reflective Nylon Dog Leash: for every leash sold, the company donates a leash to a dog rescue center!

Another great high-quality, sturdy leash option is a rope leash, like the Mighty Paw Rope Dog Leash, which is constructed out of lightweight, strong climbers’ rope. It even comes with an aluminum carabiner clip in place of a traditional leash clip for extra strength.

If it can hold climbers on a cliff face, it can help you keep control of your English Bulldog without you having to it will snap off or wear out quickly.


When it comes to training an English Bulldog to walk on a leash, you don’t want to forget the treats.

Treats are very important during the entire leash training process. They allow you to reward your pup for good behaviors, which encourages those behaviors to continue. When we get down to it, that’s all leash training is about!

Treats like the Pet Botanics Training Reward are great training treats – they’re small and easy to keep in hand or in a pocket for the leash training process. They can be found and purchased on Amazon.

You may want to stock up on several bags of treats for your preparation process and your actual walking process – they come in handy, and you don’t want to run out. You’ll learn why in the sections below.

Step 2: Begin Preparing for Leash Training

Like with anything, leash training an English Bulldog takes some preparation. While it may seem tedious at times, don’t skip the prep work!

Making sure you and your English Bulldog are prepared before leash training will help make the process a walk in the park (literally).

Start Preparations Early On

When it comes to the preparation process, start early! If your English Bulldog is still a puppy, or if you’re planning on getting an English Bulldog of your own, you can start the process nearly as soon as you get your English Bulldog.

In their article “Training an English Bulldog to Walk on a Leash,” Castlewood Bulldogs recommends starting the preparations for the leash training process as early as eight weeks.

Why so early? It helps immensely to begin training English Bulldogs while they’re still young and impressionable so that they can take those learned behaviors into adulthood.

If your English Bulldog is a bit older or isn’t even considered a puppy anymore, but still needs leash training – don’t worry! You’ll still want to start the preparation process as soon as you’ve decided to leash train your English Bulldog.

When it comes to preparing these headstrong pups for leash training, the sooner the better.

Get Them Comfortable with Leash Training Equipment

You should have purchased the necessary equipment before embarking on the leash training adventure with your English Bulldog.

There’s a good reason for that – not only will you need the leash training equipment for your actual walks, you’ll also need it for your preparation process.

Getting Comfortable with the Collar or Harness

During this process, you’ll need to get your English Bulldog comfortable wearing the collar or harness he’ll be walking with.

  1. To do this, first practice putting the collar or harness on and practice taking the collar off. Repeat this process several times.
  • This action will get your furry friend used to the contact that the collar or harness will have with his body. Don’t get too ahead of yourself, though – at this stage, don’t begin attaching the leash just yet.
  • Next, let your English Bulldog wear his collar or leash for a few hours at a time. Allow him to get more used to it and more comfortable with its presence.
  • Repeat this action a few times a day for several days or longer until you feel your English Bulldog seems comfortable with and used to the collar or harness.
Getting Comfortable with the Leash

Before you and your English Bulldog begin going on actual walks, you’ll want to get him accustomed to the leash.

Pro Tip:  To get your English Bulldog comfortable with his leash, attach it to the collar or harness while he’s sleeping and eating. Let the leash hang loosely at your furry friend’s side so he can get used to its presence and any difference it may add to the feel of the collar or harness.

Further, on some of these occasions, pick up the leash and follow your English Bulldog around. Make sure to keep the leash slack – don’t pull your English Bulldog around or restrain him with it.

Again, repeat this process several times for several days.

Begin Teaching Commands Early On

You may be wondering – aren’t we discussing leash training English Bulldogs? Why are we now discussing teaching commands?

As it turns out, teaching commands early in the leash training process greatly aids your English Bulldog in learning to walk on a leash.

If you’ve previously walked English Bulldogs or any other dogs, you likely know that commands are sometimes necessary. During a walk, the commands “heel,” “sit,” “stay,” and “come” may be used more than a few times.

So, when you’re in the process of training an English Bulldog to walk on a leash, you’ll want to begin teaching commands early on.

When your English Bulldog knows common commands like “sit” and “stay,” he will know what’s expected of him before you begin embarking on an actual walk – making the walking process much easier.

Remember to reward your furry friend with treats when he follows commands correctly and keep that up even when you’re ready to go on actual walks. Rewards help encourage good behavior.

Step 3: Begin Practicing Inside

After you’ve done your prep work for training your English Bulldog to walk on a leash, you can start some actual practice.

Getting used to the leash and all it entails will be tough for your English Bulldog at first – practicing indoors before moving on to the great outdoors will help make the transition much easier.

Choose a Room with Minimal Distractions

To practice walking your English Bulldog on a leash indoors, first choose a room with minimal distractions. That way, your furry friend can focus on the task at hand rather than everything else in the environment.

The American Kennel Club recommends suiting up your English Bulldog in his collar or harness, attaching the leash, and then practicing walking a few steps in the room at a time.

Take it slow and stay patient – he will likely get confused at first.

Give Rewards and Keep Going

As you successfully complete every few steps, give your English Bulldog a treat or two, so he knows he’s behaving correctly.                                                                                                    

If your English Bulldog is doing well with walking every few steps, try going a few more steps at a time or going a longer distance.

Continue practicing walking on a leash indoors with your English Bulldog for several days or longer, until you feel your English Bulldog is ready to graduate to the next step: walking outside.

Step 4: Begin Practicing Outside

After all your inside walking practice, it’s time to move the walks to the great outdoors.

Choose an Area with Minimal Distractions

Again, try to start in an area with minimal distractions. That could be tough, considering how lively everything is outdoors, but it’s not impossible.

You’ll want to avoid very busy areas like dog parks, trails, outdoor malls, and other heavily trafficked areas for the first few times you walk your English Bulldog outside.

For example, you may want to begin by taking a walk around your back yard or along the street in your neighborhood. If you have another area in mind that doesn’t have many distractions, that’s probably a great place to start.

Once you’ve found your desired area, it’s time to get started.

Begin Your Outside Walk

When practicing walking on a leash outside, it may be easiest to go at a time after your English Bulldog has had a play section, or when he is somewhat tired. That’ll allow him to be calmer and hopefully not as attentive to everything around him outside.

  • To begin your walk, hold the leash in your right hand, with your English Bulldog positioned on your left side.
  • In your left hand, hold one of your English Bulldog’s toys. As you begin to walk, encourage him to follow the toy.
  • After a few feet of walking, stop, let your English Bulldog play with his toy, give him some praise, and deliver a treat. You want to let him know he’s on the right track!

Continue to repeat this process. To reiterate:

  1. Position your English Bulldog on the left side of you.
  2. Hold the leash in your right hand.
  3. In your left hand, hold one of your English Bulldog’s toys.
  4. Encourage your English Bulldog to follow the toy as you both begin to walk.
  5. After a few feet, stop.
  6. Let your English Bulldog play with his toy.
  7. Give a lot of praise and a few treats.
  8. Repeat!

Keep Things Short and Simple

While you’re practicing walking on a leash outside, remember that you don’t have to engage in very long walks. Again, around the yard or a bit down the block and back will suffice. Right now, this stage is equivalent to “baby steps.”

Step 5: Prevent and Handle Pulling

English bulldogs have a low center of gravity and a sturdy, solid build. Simply put, they’re very strong, and they may like to pull while on a leash.

English Bulldogs may begin to pull on the leash if they become distracted by everything around them. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to begin walking practice in areas with minimal distraction!

Preventing Pulling

To prevent pulling, make sure never to move forward unless the leash is slack between you and your English Bulldog. If he continues to walk while the leash is slack, offer praise and treats to continue to encourage the behavior.

In the article 5 Tips To Prevent Your English Bulldog From Pulling On The Leash,” Kristina Lutz explains that it’s important to always reward the correct walking position. Whether that be with a treat, praise, or even a toy – if it’s done correctly, it’s a reward.

She also notes that if pulling behavior is reinforced at all, it’s likely to continue happening. If your English Bulldog pulls on the leash to greet a person, smell a bush, walk someplace you don’t want him to, or sniff another dog, and you allow it – he’ll continue to push his luck.

Dealing with Pulling

So, what should you do when your English Bulldog pulls on the leash while walking? You can:

  • Plant your feet and don’t move.
  • While your feet stay planted, wait for your English Bulldog to return to you before continuing the walk.
  • While your feet are still planted, if he knows commands, tell your English Bulldog to “come” and then “sit.” After he has done so for a small amount of time, continue the walk.
  • Turn around and begin walking in the opposite direction until your English Bulldog resumes the correct walking position with no pulling.
  • Continue to repeat the process as needed.

Additionally, always try to keep your English Bulldog focused on you. Make sure that he has the most of his attention on you, even if other things are going on in the environment.

To do so, always make eye contact with your English Bulldog whenever issuing a command or speaking to him. When you say his name, make sure he looks back at you and makes eye contact.

Your English Bulldog’s attention should be on you, especially while learning to walk on a leash. An English Bulldog that’s attentive to his owner will make for an easier and more smooth leash training process.

Step 6: Repeat the Short and Simple Outside Practice

Practice makes perfect (or in this case, paw-fect).

Chances are your English Bulldog won’t master the art of walking on a leash during his first short jaunt outside, and that’s perfectly normal.

Make sure you repeat your short and simple outside walking practice in your yard, down your block, or in whatever area you’ve chosen as your minimal-distraction walking location.

Repeat these short and simple walks as many times as necessary until your English Bulldog is adhering to the correct walking positions and until you feel like you’d be comfortable taking him on a longer walk or to a different location.

Step 7: Begin Longer Outside Walks at Different Locations

Once you feel your English Bulldog has graduated to the next level with his walking skills, it’s time to move on to taking longer outside walks at different locations.

At this time, you can walk longer distances – around the block, down to the store, further through the neighborhood- and see how your English Bulldog does. You may have to adjust the distances on your walks accordingly.

Additionally, you can begin taking your English Bulldog to different locations that may have a few more “distractions.” This will likely come with walking longer distances anyway, but it’s great to also walk your English Bulldogs in different, unfamiliar locations.

Walking your English Bulldog in different and unfamiliar locations will allow him to not only further practice his walking skills but will also allow him to become more social and comfortable.

“Troubleshooting” Walks with an English Bulldog

As much as we’d like every walk to go smoothly and without incident, that’s ultimately unrealistic.

Just as you may experience pulling from your English Bulldog while walking, you may experience some other minor troubles, like lunging or barking.

Here’s how to deal with them, and “troubleshoot” your walks with your English Bulldog.

Handling Barking While on Walks

While on walks with your English Bulldog, you may notice he has a habit of barking at things, like other dogs, other people, or just foreign noises and sights in general.

According to the American Kennel Club, when a dog excessively barks while on walks, it’s most likely because he needs more exercise.

It’s important to make sure that in addition to your English Bulldog’s walks, he’s getting other sources of adequate physical and mental stimulation.

According to How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Every Day?” by the American Kennel Club, you can play short games of fetch, run up and down the stairs (indoors or outdoors) a few times, play some games of tug, and even play hide-and-seek with your English Bulldog during the day in addition to your walks to make sure he’s getting enough exercise and stimulation.

If you’ve exercised your English Bulldog in addition to his walks and he’s still barking, create some distance between him and whatever he’s barking at.

Further, try to redirect his attention before he begins to bark by offering him a treat. That way, he’ll get used to turning his attention to you instead of whatever he wants to bark at.

Handling Lunging While on Walks

Lunging while on walks is a definite issue with herding breeds, but it can also be an issue with English Bulldogs.

If your English Bulldog is lunging at cars, other people, other dogs, or something else while on a walk, that’s clearly behavior you want to stop.

To deal with any lunging your English Bulldog engages in during walks, you’ll need to stay alert and proactive.

Just like if your English Bulldog excessively barks on walks, try to redirect his attention with a treat before something comes along he could potentially lunge at.

English Bulldogs may lunge at something they’re unfamiliar with, something that excites them, or something that scares them. The best way to circumvent that issue is to try and stop it before it happens.

Final Thoughts

When you think of English Bulldogs, you may think of their stubborn nature. Don’t let that make you wary of training your English Bulldog to walk on a leash, though – with some straightforward steps, both you and your furry friend can be going on walks in no time.

Remember the 7 steps to train an English Bulldog to walk on a leash:

  1. Get the correct equipment needed for leash training
  2. Begin preparing for leash training
  3. Start by practicing inside
  4. Begin short and simple outside practice
  5. Prevent and handle pulling
  6. Repeat short and simple outside practice
  7. Begin longer outside walks at different locations

Being able to take your English Bulldog on walks is healthy for both him and you, and having a leash trained English Bulldog isn’t something you’ll regret. Who knows all the places you’ll go together?

Learn More

If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.