How to Leash Train a Bernese Mountain Dog

Leash training is an essential aspect of raising a well-behaved Bernese Mountain Dog. In this introduction, we will explore the significance and benefits of leash training for these beautiful and gentle giants. Early training not only promotes better control and safety during walks but also strengthens the bond between you and your furry companion.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are large, strong dogs with a naturally friendly demeanor. However, their size and strength can pose challenges if they are not properly trained to walk on a leash. Leash training is crucial for their safety as it allows you to maintain control in various environments, preventing them from darting off or engaging in undesirable behaviors.

Furthermore, leash training provides mental stimulation for your Bernese Mountain Dog. By teaching them to walk calmly on a loose leash, you can help them release excess energy and build focus and impulse control. This translates into a more enjoyable walking experience for both you and your furry friend.

In the following sections, we will delve into the basics of preparing for leash training, familiarizing your Bernese Mountain Dog with the leash, teaching loose leash walking techniques, addressing pulling and reactivity issues, building distraction tolerance and focus, overcoming fear or anxiety on the leash, troubleshooting common challenges, and ultimately celebrating success.

By investing time and effort into leash training your Bernese Mountain Dog early on, you can create a well-mannered companion who walks politely by your side. So let’s get started on this rewarding journey of harnessing their incredible potential while forging an unbreakable bond with these majestic dogs.

The Basics

When it comes to leash training a Bernese Mountain Dog, proper preparation is key. This section will guide you through the basics of getting ready for leash training and ensuring that you have the right equipment for a successful training journey.

One of the first steps in preparing for leash training is to choose the appropriate equipment. For a Bernese Mountain Dog, a sturdy leash and collar or harness are essential. The leash should be strong enough to withstand any pulling or tugging from your dog, while the collar or harness should be comfortable and secure.

When selecting a collar, consider opting for a martingale collar, as it provides better control without putting excessive pressure on the dog’s neck. Alternatively, if you prefer using a harness, make sure it fits snugly but still allows your dog to move comfortably. It’s important to note that some Bernese Mountain Dogs may require more specialized equipment depending on their behavior or size.

After acquiring the necessary equipment, ensure that everything fits properly before starting the training process. A loose-fitting collar or harness can not only lead to discomfort but also compromise your control over your dog during walks. Proper fitting and adjustments are crucial for both safety and effective communication between you and your Bernese Mountain Dog.

Martingale CollarThe collar should fit snugly around the dog’s neck when pulled tight with enough space to place two fingers between the collar and neck.
LeashA standard-length leash (4-6 feet) provides better control without allowing too much room for pulling.

Remember, proper equipment and correct fitting are essential for ensuring your Bernese Mountain Dog’s comfort and safety during leash training. With the right gear in place, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on a successful training journey with your furry companion.

Familiarizing Your Bernese Mountain Dog with the Leash

One of the first steps in leash training a Bernese Mountain Dog is to familiarize them with the leash. This process helps your dog develop positive associations with the leash and makes it a fun experience for them. By gradually introducing the leash, you can help your Bernese Mountain Dog become comfortable with its presence.

To start, allow your dog to sniff and investigate the leash without putting it on them. This lets them become accustomed to its scent and presence. You can also try playing with your dog near the leash and incorporating it into playtime. For example, dangle the leash while tossing a toy or treat to create positive feelings towards it.

Next, introduce the feeling of wearing a light-weight object around their neck by using a drag line instead of an actual leash. Attach a lightweight two-foot-long line to your dog’s collar or harness and let them walk around indoors or in an enclosed area while supervised. As they become more comfortable with this, you can gradually increase the length of the line.

Once your Bernese Mountain Dog is comfortable wearing the drag line, you can progress to attaching a lightweight leash. Start by allowing your dog to walk around with you holding onto the end of the leash without applying any pressure or tension. Reward them with treats or praise for staying calm and relaxed.

Remember that patience is key during this process as every dog adjusts at their own pace. It’s important not to rush or force them into uncomfortable situations as this can create negative associations with the leash. With consistent positive experiences, your Bernese Mountain Dog will soon view the leash as something exciting and enjoyable rather than something restrictive.

Familiarizing Your Bernese Mountain Dog with the Leash:

  • Allow your dog to sniff and investigate the leash.
  • Incorporate playtime activities near or involving the leash.
  • Start by using a lightweight two-foot-long drag line attached to the collar or harness.
  • Gradually increase the length of the line as your dog becomes more comfortable.
  • Progress to attaching a lightweight leash and reward calm and relaxed behavior.

By following these steps, your Bernese Mountain Dog will soon be ready for the next phase of leash training: walking on a loose leash.

Teaching Your Bernese Mountain Dog to Walk on a Loose Leash

Explaining the Concept of Loose Leash Walking

When it comes to leash training a Bernese Mountain Dog, one of the most important skills to teach is walking on a loose leash. Loose leash walking allows for better control, prevents pulling and tugging, and creates a more enjoyable experience for both you and your dog. It also promotes a sense of calmness and relaxation during walks.

The concept of loose leash walking involves teaching your Bernese Mountain Dog to walk alongside you with a relaxed leash. This means that there should be no tension or pulling on the leash as they move forward. Instead, the leash should hang in a J-shape without any resistance.

Introducing Techniques for Loose Leash Walking

To start teaching your Bernese Mountain Dog to walk on a loose leash, it’s important to establish clear communication and set expectations. Begin by using verbal cues such as “heel” or “let’s go” to signal that it’s time to walk together. It can be helpful to walk in familiar and quiet areas initially before gradually introducing more distractions.

One effective technique is the “stop-and-start” method. As soon as your dog starts pulling or creating tension on the leash, come to a complete stop and stand still. Do not move until your dog releases tension on the leash and returns back beside you. Once they do so, reward them with praise or treats. Repeat this process consistently during walks to reinforce the idea that pulling does not lead to forward movement.

Best Way To Kennel Train Your Dog

Another technique is using turns or changes in direction when your Bernese Mountain Dog begins pulling ahead. Take a sudden turn or change direction whenever you feel tension on the leash, guiding your dog back towards you. Reinforce these turns with positive reinforcement like treats or praise when your dog follows along without pulling.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Teaching Loose Leash Walking

To teach your Bernese Mountain Dog to walk on a loose leash, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Begin by ensuring your dog is comfortable wearing their collar or harness and leash. Allow them to adjust to the feeling of the equipment before moving forward.
  2. Pick a quiet and familiar area for training. Start by holding the leash with your dog following closely beside you.
  3. Use your chosen verbal cue (“heel” or “let’s go”) to signal that it’s time to walk together.
  4. As soon as tension occurs on the leash, stop walking and stand still. Do not move until your dog returns back beside you and releases tension on the leash.
  5. When your dog walks beside you without pulling, reinforce this behavior with treats, praise, or toys.
  6. Gradually increase the difficulty level by introducing more distractions or practicing in different environments.
  7. Stay consistent and patient throughout the training process, rewarding desired behaviors and redirecting pulling with positive reinforcement.

Remember that every dog learns at their own pace, so be patient and understanding during this training process. With consistency, positive reinforcement, and practice, your Bernese Mountain Dog will soon learn to walk comfortably on a loose leash.

Addressing Pulling and Leash Reactivity Issues

Leash pulling and leash reactivity are common challenges that many Bernese Mountain Dog owners face during leash training. It is important to address these issues to ensure a safe and enjoyable walking experience for both you and your dog. In this section, we will discuss effective strategies to tackle pulling and leash-reactivity behaviors.

One of the first steps in addressing pulling is to teach your Bernese Mountain Dog the concept of loose leash walking. This involves teaching your dog to walk beside you without constantly pulling on the leash. One technique that can be helpful is the “stop and start” method.

When your dog starts to pull, stop walking, wait for them to come back towards you or loosen tension on the leash, then reward with praise and continue walking. Consistency is key in reinforcing this behavior.

Leash reactivity, which occurs when your dog exhibits excessive barking, lunging, or growling towards other dogs or people while on a leash, can be more challenging to address. One approach is desensitization and counterconditioning. This involves gradually exposing your dog to triggers that elicit their reactive behavior at a distance where they remain calm, and rewarding them for calm behavior. Over time, you can gradually decrease the distance between your dog and the trigger as they become more comfortable.

Pulling“Stop and Start” Method
Leash ReactivityDesensitization and Counterconditioning

It’s important to note that addressing these issues may take time and patience. It’s crucial to remain consistent and use positive reinforcement techniques throughout the training process. If you are struggling with pulling or leash reactivity despite your efforts, seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer experienced in working with reactive dogs can be beneficial.

By addressing pulling and leash reactivity issues, you can create a more enjoyable walking experience for both you and your Bernese Mountain Dog. In the next section, we will discuss how to build distraction tolerance and focus to further improve your dog’s leash manners.

Building Distraction Tolerance and Focus

Distraction tolerance and focus are essential skills for a well-behaved Bernese Mountain Dog during leash training. In this section, we will discuss the importance of building your dog’s focus and impulse control, suggest engaging games and exercises to improve their ability to ignore distractions, and highlight the use of rewards and positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors.

The Importance of Building Focus and Impulse Control

Having a dog that can maintain focus despite various distractions is crucial for successful leash training. It ensures that your Bernese Mountain Dog can walk calmly on a loose leash, making walks more enjoyable for both of you. Additionally, teaching impulse control helps prevent impulsive behaviors such as lunging or pulling towards interesting stimuli.

To begin building focus and impulse control, start with short training sessions in low-distraction environments. Gradually increase the level of distractions as your dog becomes more proficient. Be patient, as it takes time for dogs to learn how to maintain focus in stimulating environments.

Engaging Games and Exercises

Engaging games and exercises are great tools for enhancing your Bernese Mountain Dog’s ability to ignore distractions during leash training. One example is the “Leave It” game. Start by holding a treat in your closed hand and presenting it to your dog while saying “leave it.” Once they stop trying to get the treat from your hand, reward them with a different treat from another hand. Repeat this exercise until they understand that “leave it” means ignoring temptations.

Another exercise is called “Find It.” Scatter treats or toys around your yard or living room, then release your dog’s interest with a cue like “find it” or “search.” Encourage them to discover all the hidden items while remaining focused on you as their source of rewards. This game builds both focus and impulse control while introducing an element of distraction.

Rewards and Positive Reinforcement

Rewarding your Bernese Mountain Dog for desired behaviors is essential in building their distraction tolerance and focus. Use high-value treats or praise when they maintain attention on you, even in the presence of distractions. By pairing rewards with focus, you create positive associations that motivate your dog to stay engaged.

Additionally, practice leash training exercises in different environments with varying levels of distractions. Slowly introduce them to new sights, sounds, and smells while reinforcing desirable behavior with rewards and praise. This will progressively build their confidence and ability to ignore distractions during walks.

Overcoming Fear or Anxiety on the Leash

Leash training can sometimes be a challenging process, especially if your Bernese Mountain Dog exhibits fear or anxiety when on the leash. It is important to address these issues with patience and understanding to ensure a positive training experience for both you and your dog.

In this section, we will discuss how to identify signs of fear or anxiety during leash training, offer tips and strategies to gradually desensitize your dog and build confidence, and emphasize the importance of creating positive experiences to alleviate leash-related fears.

Identifying Signs of Fear or Anxiety

When leash training your Bernese Mountain Dog, it is crucial to pay attention to their body language and behavior to identify any signs of fear or anxiety. Common signs may include cowering, tail tucking, excessive panting or drooling, trembling, lip licking, ears pinned back, dilated pupils, or attempts to escape or hide.

If you notice any of these signs during leash training sessions, it is important not to force your dog further into distress but instead take a step back and modify the training approach.

Tips and Strategies for Desensitization

Desensitization is a gradual process that involves exposing your Bernese Mountain Dog to the trigger (leash) in a controlled and positive manner until they become more comfortable with it. Start by introducing the leash while offering plenty of treats and praise. Allow your dog to sniff and investigate the leash at their own pace without any pressure. Gradually increase the duration that the leash is attached while ensuring that your dog remains calm throughout.

Can a Dog Be Trained to Recgonize Mood Swings

During this process, it may be helpful to associate the presence of the leash with enjoyable activities such as mealtime or playtime. You can also try distracting them with toys or treats while gently guiding them with the leash in short bursts. As your Bernese Mountain Dog becomes more relaxed, gradually increase the difficulty level by incorporating light movements or walking short distances with the leash. Remember to always reward and praise your dog for their brave behavior and progress.

Creating Positive Experiences

To alleviate leash-related fears, it is essential to create positive experiences that help your Bernese Mountain Dog associate the leash with enjoyable activities and feelings of safety. Take things at their pace and be patient. Gradually introduce different environments, such as walks in quiet areas or low-stress outdoor spaces, and incorporate fun activities during walk sessions. This can include playing their favorite game, offering treats throughout the walk, or providing verbal praise for good behavior.

It is also important to focus on maintaining a calm and relaxed energy yourself while training. Dogs are incredibly intuitive and can pick up on your emotions easily. Keeping a positive attitude and providing reassurance will go a long way in helping your Bernese Mountain Dog feel more confident on the leash.

By using desensitization techniques, creating positive experiences, and offering support during leash training, you can help your Bernese Mountain Dog overcome fear or anxiety on the leash. Remember to always approach training with patience, consistency, and positivity as you work towards celebrating success with your well-behaved and confident companion.

Troubleshooting Common Leash Training Challenges

Leash training a Bernese Mountain Dog can come with its fair share of challenges. Although each dog is unique and may face different obstacles, there are some common difficulties that can arise during the training process. In this section, we will address these challenges and provide practical solutions and troubleshooting tips to help you overcome them.

One common issue that many Bernese Mountain Dog owners face is pulling on the leash. When a dog pulls, it can make walking an unpleasant experience for both you and your furry friend. To address this challenge, it’s important to teach your dog the concept of loose leash walking. One technique you can use is called “stop and start.”

When your Bernese Mountain Dog starts to pull, abruptly stop walking and wait for them to turn their attention back to you. Once they do, reward them with praise or a treat and continue walking. This method teaches your dog that pulling doesn’t get them anywhere, but paying attention to you does.

Another challenge that may arise during leash training is leash reactivity or aggressive behavior towards other dogs or people while on walks. To address this issue, it’s important to redirect your dog’s focus in a positive way. One strategy is to create distance between your Bernese Mountain Dog and the trigger of their reactive behavior.

This can help prevent their negative reactions from escalating. Additionally, you can use treats or a favorite toy as a distraction when encountering triggers on walks, rewarding your dog for calm behavior.

Lastly, another common challenge during leash training is lack of focus or distractions. It’s natural for dogs to be interested in their surroundings and easily distracted while on walks. To improve focus, engaging games and exercises such as “watch me” can be helpful. Practice regular sessions at home where you reward your Bernese Mountain Dog for making eye contact with you on command. Gradually increase the distractions over time until your dog becomes more adept at ignoring them.


In conclusion, successfully leash training your Bernese Mountain Dog is a rewarding achievement that will greatly benefit both you and your furry companion. Throughout the process, you have learned the importance of early training and the significance of leash training for control and safety during walks. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you have equipped yourself with the necessary tools and techniques to effectively train your dog to walk on a loose leash.

Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement have been key factors in your success thus far. Celebrate the progress you have made with your Bernese Mountain Dog by acknowledging how far you both have come. From introducing the leash as a positive experience to overcoming challenges such as pulling or leash-reactivity behaviors, each milestone represents a significant step towards building a strong bond with your dog.

Moving forward, it is important to maintain consistency in your training efforts. Remember that dogs learn best through repetition and regular practice. Continue to provide rewards and positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors and further strengthen your dog’s focus and impulse control.

As you enjoy walks with your well-behaved, leash-trained Bernese Mountain Dog, take pride in the hard work you have put into their training. The benefits of a well-trained dog extend beyond just walking on a leash-they can enhance their overall behavior and strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend. With persistence and dedication, you can achieve great success in the journey of leash training your Bernese Mountain Dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I stop my Bernese Mountain Dog from pulling on the leash?

To stop your Bernese Mountain Dog from pulling on the leash, it is important to start with proper leash training. First, ensure that you are using a sturdy and comfortable harness or collar that fits your dog properly. Begin by teaching your dog basic obedience commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “heel.” Use positive reinforcement techniques like treats, praise, and rewards to reinforce good behavior.

When you walk your dog on a leash, be consistent and patient, rewarding them for walking calmly beside you without pulling. If they start to pull, stop immediately and wait until they relax before continuing. Consistency and positive reinforcement will help teach your Bernese Mountain Dog to walk politely on a leash.

Do Bernese mountain dogs pull on leash?

Yes, Bernese Mountain Dogs can be prone to pulling on the leash. Their large size and strength can make it challenging to control their pulling tendencies if not properly trained at a young age.

However, with consistent training and patience, it is possible to teach a Bernese Mountain Dog how to walk politely on a leash without pulling. It is important to invest time in their training from an early age so that they understand proper leash manners and can become well-behaved walking companions.

Are Bernese mountain dogs difficult to train?

Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their intelligence and willingness to please, which generally makes them fairly trainable dogs. However, each individual dog may have different levels of stubbornness or independence that could affect the ease of training. Some Bernese Mountain Dogs may require more patience and consistency than others during training sessions.

It is essential to use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and rewards while avoiding harsh or punitive methods that could damage their trust or confidence. With proper guidance and consistent training methods tailored to their personality and learning style, Bernese Mountain Dogs can become well-trained companions for families who invest time in their education from an early age onwards

Send this to a friend