How To Stop Your Dog Pulling On Leash

how to stop your dog pulling


How To Stop Your Dog Pulling On Leash

One issue that every owner will probably come across is their dog pulling whilst on leash. Dogs can pull for many reasons and even puppies can keep a consistent tension on their lead. Training a dog to walk on leash without pulling normally is one thing but stopping them from saying hello to the next passer by is another thing. In this post we cover some of things you can do to get your dog to stop pulling and hopefully give some knowledge on the reasons for a dog pulling on leash.

Why Does My Dog Pull On Leash

Whether you have a big dog or a small dog they will all pull on their leash because that is how they attempt to move. There are many reasons as to why your dog would pull but they all surround one very simple explanation, your dog has learnt that is how they get moving. Some of the reasons for pulling are listed below.

  • They have seen another dog or person (Excitement)

Many dogs get exited when they see another of their kind walking about and most of the time its hard to keep them away. Just like when my dog see’s another of his furry friends the lead suddenly starts to get some tension in it. Its common in dogs to get exited over other dogs but how you the owner handle it will dictate how much pulling goes on.

  • They want to get somewhere quicker (Anticipation)

Another example coming from my own experience is my golden retriever. My dog is an off lead dog, we live in the countryside and there are luckily lots of walking areas to let him run around at his own leisure. Unfortunately when walking him down to these locations the anticipation can be a little overwhelming. All my dog will want to do is get to the park or woods as quickly as possible, which inevitably ends up with more tension on the lead. Again training your dog to stop pulling when told is something i have done with no more problems.

  • They have had a very lazy day (Energy)

I call this start of the walk syndrome, as you will commonly find dogs have lots more energy at the beginning of their walks than at the end. If your dog has had a lazy day or they have just had a long nap you may find they pull on the lead lots more than usually. By the end of the walk i tend to find my dog walking calmly behind me as he has run himself dry of energy, of course this doesn’t help with the start of the walk. If your dog is fairly energetic it can be more difficult to train them to not pull on leash, but there are some tips to help teach them. If your interested in knowing some of the most energetic dog breeds then check out this post by pet central on “10 Energetic Dog Breeds”.

train your dog not to pull

How To Train Your Dog Not To Pull

Unfortunately there isn’t just a plain and simple instruction manual to teaching your dog not to pull on leash. This process takes time and patience something that both you and your dog will need plenty of. The techniques outlined below have from personal experience worked when training a dog not to pull on leash, however many dogs are different and some breeds are easier to train than others. No matter what breed of dog your have or if they are stubborn, being persistent will give you the best chance of successfully training your dog.

Here is our step by step guide with some helpful tips to use when training your dog not to pull on leash.

Step 1

Firstly you must be thinking about the equipment your are going to need when training your dog. Using a harness will give you more control over your dog, however it is best to use a harness with a front attachment as an attachment located on the back will just encourage more pulling. The idea with a front attaching harness is that it pulls your dog to the side disrupting their ambition to walk forwards. You can also use a “Canny” which effectively forces your dogs head downwards when they pull on the lead, i don’t approve of using a choke chain as its highly unnecessary to use one to train your dog not to pull. You want the training to be a positive experience for the dog, yes somewhat frustrating but by using a choke chain you instantly make it a negative experience for the dog.

Step 2

Once you have the right setup to carry out the training you can they begin. Dogs enjoy routine and thrive on consistency, this means its best to train your dog on one side of your body and consistently use this side whenever you are teaching them not to pull. Firstly walk slowly with your dog around a familiar area, as soon as your dog starts pulling on their lead stop dead on the spot and call them towards you. Each time they arrive by your side reward them with a treat. Continue this process positively reinforcing them when they come back to your side. This positive reinforcement is the most important aspect in this process, you must make the dog aware that it is a good thing.

Step 3

I have always found using a command to be very effective when training a dog to not pull. Using a sharp command such as”Ah!!” or even sternly saying something like “Gently” or “No Pulling”. If your dog refuses to come towards you when you have stopped turn and walk in the other direction calling them over to you, this can often be more exciting for the dog and they start to realise what they need to do when you stop. Continue walking with your dog and using these techniques giving them treats when they correctly walk by your side. You can slowly reduce the amount of treats you give them the more and more they reduce their pulling. When you dog is consistently walking next to you it can be useful to teach them the heel command this will allow you to encourage them to stay by your side when you notice something that could cause them to pull, like another dog.

Step 4

Once you have consistently got your dog to stop pulling on the leash can can move onto establishing common movements that you would have during a walk. These movements would involve turning sharply, walking faster, walking slowly and of course allowing your dog to sniff and go to the toilet. All these movements disrupt your dogs training but are vital as you would never go for a walk the way you train your dog. If your dog remembers not to pull and walks close by you, give them a treat or praise them whilst still walking. This process gets them used to walking normally and remembering what they need to do on a normal walk.

Step 5

Now it is time to test your training. If you think your dog has had a good amount of training and they have grasped the concept of not pulling take them on their normal walk. Depending on what causes your dog to pull you may experience pulling at different times. Continue their training during your normal walk rewarding any good behaviour, like not pulling or walking by your side. If any pulling does occur stop and stand firm, especially if they are excited about seeing another dog or getting to their walking destination. If you are able to notice the distraction before they start pulling use the heel command to reinforce what you want them to do. Remember pulling doesn’t happen because your dog wants to get one over on their owner, it happens because they forget what they are supposed to be doing and become focused on what they want.

Step 5

If your dog starts to become proficient in not pulling while on the lead then try training them to walk beside you off lead. This is a good step towards discouraging pulling as it tells your dog they are allowed complete freedom but only when you allow it. Dogs want to please their owners that has always been apparent so most dogs will naturally they will want to do what makes you happy. Continuing your training onto walking off lead by your side uses very much the same process with a strong focus on the heel command. Persistence is key, keep repeating the process and your pooch will be as good as gold on their walks. Check out our article on walking your dog off lead for some helpful tips and advice.

Tips to help train your dog not to pull

stop your dog pulling on leash

Tone of Voice – The one thing that many people forget is that their dog doesn’t speak English, you can train them to react to certain words but they wont be able to recite the definition of “Sit”. When teaching commands to dogs most often the difference between words is not overly recognised by your dog, they more associate them at first with a positive or negative. This means that tone is highly important when it comes to training your dog anything as dogs know the difference between a positive tone and a negative tone. Never use the same tone for two different commands as your dog may not gauge the difference between the words. You can train your dog quicker if you can combine words with different tones.

Reaction – By reaction we mean that dogs can be fairly impulsive creatures making a sudden decision and acting upon it instantly. For example if your dog knows they are about to enter the park they will most likely start pulling, reacting on their impulses. Another example might be when your dog sees another dog on their walk and instantly pulls you across to say hello. These reactions can be controlled by you reacting first, this means anticipating the entrance to the park or noticing the dogs your pooch will want to say hello to before your dog does. Telling your dog to heel or slowing down your pace can help calm your dog down making less of a reaction when they realise what they want.

Timing your walk/training – The timing of your walk or training session can determine how much your dog decides to pull. If you walk your dog after they have had a long day lounging around, whether you have been with them or not they will most probably be highly energised. Training can be made a whole lot easier if you tire your pooch out first. Try running around the garden with them or taking them for an off lead walk in the morning and then training them in the afternoon. Taking them for an off lead walk will reduce their energy levels dramatically and they wont feel like they need to be as excitable when taken out on lead later. Walking your dog on lead doesn’t give them a large amount of exercise, depending on how far you take them and the breed of dog.

Experience – Training your dog not to pull on leash can be easier if you have a puppy as they are highly impressionable and cant pull you around as much, however they do have short attention spans so may not listen to you as much, here is a great post on the best age to train your dog. If your dog is slightly older you will want them to have a had some basic training before taking on loose leash training . Basic commands such as sit, stay/wait and lie down should be fully grasped as leash training is much more complex for a dog to grasp. If you have already taught your dog some commands they will most respect you as alpha and be better at training, this makes the whole process a little easier.


Its easy to think that when you get a dog you will be able to train them quickly to not pull on the lead. Many potential dog owners fall foul to this and quickly learn themselves that training a dog can be hard work. As with many things in life something that is worth have doesn’t come easy and patience will always be something that your must have to accomplish your goals. Training your dog is another goal you have to reach and only with persistence will you get to that goal. Getting to walk with your dog can be an amazing activity both mentally and physically, so by following these steps and being persistent you can train your dog to stop pulling and in turn take them on lots of walks that both you and your dog will enjoy. Good luck and leave a message in the comments to help other people train their dogs to stop pulling on the lead.

If you enjoyed this post check out our website where we talk about walking with your dog and get out and about with them too.








Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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