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Kick Your Dog’s Leash-Pulling Habit Once And For All!

At A Glance

If you've ever tried to walk your dog, you know that they’re not always well-behaved. Their tendency to pull on the leash or run off in the opposite direction is so great that it gets too difficult for you to keep them under control.

  • While some dogs may just be acting out because they're excited about being outdoors, others may struggle due to their breed or personality.
  • Thankfully, there are ways to train your pet to walk calmly with a loose leash so both of you can enjoy the experience together.

Last Updated on: Dec 19, 2022

Dogs love walks but not leashes.

I mean, if I were a dog, I would dislike leashes with a passion, too!

Picture this: Walking is one of your most favorite activities. It gets you excited seeing all those people and other animals. Not to mention aroma upon aroma of food. Plus the bustling sounds of the outdoors!

And then your human decides it’s a good idea to attach you to them by a leash.

They walk so slow and can’t keep up to your pace. Your collar strains your body, making you want to “lean in” and move forward.

How can you resist the urge to pull away?

Now that you know the why of your dog, you can proceed to the how.

Here’s your complete How To Stop Dog From Pulling On Leash Guide!

custom oil-painted dog portraits by Poshtraits

How To Stop Your Dog From Pulling On A Leash

Tired of being dragged around the block or carrying your dog because they won’t move? When faced with resistance, you might be tempted to drag and pull your pet.


Dragging and pulling your dog will just make things worse and could hurt their neck. It also makes them associate you, the leash, and walks with pain and negative emotions.

Instead, teach your dog good leash manners. Then walks would be more enjoyable for both of you and reduce the likelihood of accidents happening.

Sarah Fraser, co-founder of Instinct Dog Behavior & Training, agrees: “If your dog is walking nicely on a leash, it likely means that your dog is paying more attention to you, making it easier for you to provide direction and guidance as needed along your walk.”

Follow the How To Stop Dog From Pulling On Leash method below and that can be a reality sooner rather than later.

infographic image

Choose Equipment That Is Comfortable And Safe

Collars pose a health risk to pets and can be highly uncomfortable. When a dog pulls on a leash or their owner uses it to control them, it can injure their spine, nerves, and other tissues. Sometimes, it even leads to behavioral disorders.

If your dog wants to sniff around or play with other dogs and you restrict them by the collar, they will link the discomfort with those experiences. As their owner, you’ll need to learn how to stop a dog from pulling hard on leash the proper way.

Fortunately, stopping a leash puller could require nothing more than patient training using the right equipment.

However, not all training devices are safe. Some can even cause pain. For instance, slip-and-choke, prong, and electronic collars teach dogs to avoid pain by keeping the leash slack.

For newbie dog owners, a chest-led harness can prevent their pet from pulling forward and allows it to turn its body around easier. This device is also more comfortable because the leash is fastened to a ring on the chest strap that evenly distributes pressure across the dog’s body.

An H-style or Y-style harness is another safe and comfortable choice. It crosses the dog’s chest in a Y shape, placing pressure on the sternum instead of soft tissues.

Also, this type of harness forms an H-shape on the back where the straps are perpendicular to the spine and torso. That means the straps don’t irritate the dog’s armpits or tummy and instead rest gently across their ribs.

For owners of larger breeds wondering how to stop strong dog from pulling and lunging, investing in high-quality gear could make a dramatic difference.

[Note: Even smaller breeds may sometimes lunge and pull when they see something they want to chase, e.g. another dog, joggers, or bikers. If they begin to act aggressively, consult a veterinarian behaviorist for a full assessment.]

Once you’ve selected your equipment, scout around for a training venue.

dog walking with leash

Start In A Non-Exciting Area

Conduct your training in an environment that sets your dog up for success. If you expect them to learn how to stay calm and walk along nicely, train them in an area that allows them to do so.

A dog park can be too stimulating with so many sights to see and smells to smell. Go for a location where there are less dogs and people around.

Timing is also important. Your pet may be less likely to be hyperactive early in the morning or late at night.

If you want to get some street walking practice in, I suggest that you do it during dinner time when most people are at home. You could walk your dog back and forth on a one-way path as well.

Though it may pull initially, your pet will settle down and walk more calmly on the way back since it has already sniffed all the interesting things earlier.

Now that you’ve identified the perfect venue and schedule, it’s time to plan for training.

Pick One Walking Method And Stick With It

Without training, no dog will have proper leash manners, no matter how sophisticated their leash or harness. Dogs who become accustomed to pulling will learn that it is a means of getting what they want.

You might ask, “How do I train my dog to walk without pulling?”

So let’s proceed to the How To Stop Dog From Pulling On Leash When Walking step.

Start by choosing a walking method that includes educating your pet on acceptable behavior for walks.

One technique is to stand as still as a tree. Once your dog starts pulling, stop right away and don’t move until it stops and lets the leash go. When it pulls again, keep resisting until you win the battle of the wills.

Another way is to turn and move in a different direction. This temporarily places your dog behind you and stops it from pulling. If it pulls again, just repeat the action. These unexpected movements pique their interest and will help encourage the walking behavior you want.

Next, decide where you want your dog to walk. Do you prefer it to be on the right, left, or a few feet behind you?

Whatever your walking method, keep it consistent and make sure everyone who walks your dog follows it. That guarantees they will learn what is expected of them.

And now, for the nitty-gritty of your training sessions.

Don’t Reinforce Bad Behavior

I’ll have to admit I’ve been guilty of this several times, and I know most dog owners are, too. Mostly, we don’t really mean to, but we’re just unaware.

Remember that any interaction with your dog, such as petting or talking to it, are interpreted as a reward.

During the early stages of walk training, some dogs will bite and pull at the leash. Be assured that this is not unusual behavior, even if your pet isn’t normally a biter. They’re just trying all possible ways to get free.

How to stop dog from biting and pulling on leash?

Ignore bad behavior. Don’t yell or pull on them since they may view it as play. Your dog will soon realize the appropriate way to gain your attention.

Meanwhile, reinforce good behavior. When your pet is able to walk calmly alongside you while on its leash, reward them with praise or a treat. This helps them associate walking to pleasant interactions with you.

Can punishment be used as reinforcement for good behavior? No. Punishing your dog may cause them to become hostile or equate walks to unpleasant experiences.

Use Treats To Encourage Your Dog To Follow You

Bring your dog’s favorite treats on training walks so that you can reward it for good behavior. Those goodies keep your dog interested, and you giving them demonstrates that good things happen when it follows your lead.

To pique its interest on the first few days of your training, you’ll want to provide top-tier and irresistible treats. Pieces of boiled chicken or cooked beef should do the trick.

Pupford Dog Training Treats

Freeze-dried chicken treats

Reward your furry friend with this particularly yum chicken treat whenever they accomplish a training goal. The treats are small in size, and have less than a calorie per treat- making them perfect training treats! The treats can be stored anywhere.

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Pupford Dog Training Treats

Freeze-dried chicken treats for those dog training sessions

Reward your furry friend with this particularly yum chicken treat whenever they accomplish a training goal. The treats are small in size, and have less than a calorie per treat- making them perfect training treats! The treats can be stored anywhere.

  • Iolanda B

    As seen on Google
    My pups love this treat. I use them as a reward for training and they just go for it. Plenty of treats, a small bag and it has low calories so you don’t worry about how many you give them.

  • Enrique H.

    As seen on Google
    Great treats for training!…my dog…acquired a taste for them…I take the bag with me so I can train in different scenarios. Plus they give you 30 free training courses!

  • Nicole S.

    As seen on Google
    …My one dog is a little picky and even he likes these…they are breakable…perfect for training… I’m able to keep a couple in my pocket when I go outside…

Be Consistent And Patient

Your dog is eager to please you, but it will have to learn at its own pace. Since you’re attempting to teach it something that is not in its nature, it might take longer than, say, feeding or sitting.

Some breeds are also hard-headed. So how do you train a stubborn dog to walk on a leash?

Drew Bittle of Texas compares the process to teaching a child to ride a bicycle: “It requires patience, practice, and a whole lot of understanding.”

Avoid stressing over their stubbornness as it will make the experience worse for both of you. Give your dog a chance by letting it take its time to learn what you expect it to do.

It’s also a good idea to arrange the training to their advantage, such as by exercising in a quiet area free of exciting stimuli. Sometimes, though, it’s only a matter of praising them for good leash manners.

Likewise, refrain from training for too long. If you notice your dog is having trouble learning, they may have either lost interest in the task or grown tired. Keep sessions short (10-15 minutes) and separate from each other. Always end them on a good note as well.

And don’t forget, consistency is as important as patience. Try to schedule your walks at the same time each day, use just one method all throughout, and apply the same manner and tone of voice.

Lastly, train only when both of you are in a good mood. If you’re tired or irritable, your patience can wear thin quickly and make you frustrated with your dog.

how to stop dog from pulling on leash - tweet

Not All Methods Will Work Perfectly For Every Dog

No two dogs are exactly the same. Thus, training methods, rewards, and the patience level required may vary for each.

For instance, a puppy, which is essentially an infant, may be physically and mentally limited. Naturally, it will learn at a slower rate than full-grown canines and appreciate hugs more than treats.

And how do you train an adult dog on a leash? For some pet owners, they’re easier to teach because they can focus for longer periods and are less likely to misbehave.

However, some older dogs and certain breeds are simply stubborn. But the rules don’t change even for them: exercise patience, keep training sessions quick (10-20 minutes), and reinforce only good behavior.

What about, how to get large dog to stop pulling on leash? To keep it under control and motivated, you need to look into a special harness, a thicker leash, and high-value treats.

The bottomline: Apart from determining the right How To Stop Dog From Pulling On Leash tactic for your pet, you should tailor its rewards according to its needs and preferences as well.

It would also help to know the answer to, “Why does my dog always pull on the leash?” Understanding the reason for their leash pulling will guide you in choosing the appropriate training method.

Why Dogs Pull On The Leash

One common misconception is that a dog pulls on its leash to prove who is boss, or to be the alpha. The truth is, they are mostly motivated by an impulse to explore the outdoors.

Dogs instinctively tug on their leashes because walks expose them to a very stimulating environment, and they feel constrained in their motion when all they want to do is run. So many smells to smell, some dogs to meet, and a chance to get a lot of exercise!

A leash makes them feel restrained and uncomfortable as it is not their normal mode of movement. It also doesn’t help that humans have a slower walking pace compared to theirs.

But how long does it take to train a dog not to pull? Well, it depends on the dog and their response to training. Most puppies will be fully leash-trained within a month.

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Durable dog leash for medium and large dogs

This sturdy dog rope in classic black and gold does more than just give your dog a dapper appearance. The leash features a solid marine-grade brass buckle and a ring for other accessories, such as a waste bag dispenser. The buckle also swivels 360 degrees, making it safe for your pet.

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The Upper Pawside Dog Leash

Durable dog leash for medium and large dogs

This sturdy dog rope in classic black and gold does more than just give your dog a dapper appearance. The leash features a solid marine-grade brass buckle and a ring for other accessories, such as a waste bag dispenser. The buckle also swivels 360 degrees, making it safe for your pet.

  • Rhoda B

    Love this leash! It looks heavy duty and lux my GSD is a puller, the rope leash gives me better control during walks and most importantly i didn’t face any pulling or dragging.

  • Lawson Gen

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  • J Aron

    As seen on Google
    I use it at the beach. The length is great and it allows my dogs to explore. It’s pretty sturdy so I don’t ever have to worry about them getting loose.

dog walking with owner

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Should I Train My Dog Not To Pull?

Choose a time and safe location that’s not too exciting for your dog. This means no crowds, dogs, or other animals. It’s recommended to go to parks or empty streets outside of peak hours.

How Do I Handle Lunging And Barking?

Additional assistance may be required for dogs that lunge at the leash or bark excessively. Ask your vet for a referral to a qualified behavior consultant and trainer who can provide one-on-one guidance.

Dogs behave this way because they are overcome by fear or excitement and are unable to control themselves. Some may want to chase after anything they see, consequently putting themselves and others in harm’s way.

The right trainer can tailor a program for your dog based on their behaviors and needs.

How Do You Stop A Dog Pulling When It Sees Another Dog?

The first step is to create distance between your pet and the other dog. Next, engage your dog in positive distractions. Lastly, use a treat to reinforce good behavior such as not barking or lunging.


General how to stop dog from pulling on leash stopping a dog from pulling on leash

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