Why does my dog pull on the lead, and how can I stop it?

Firstly all dogs are different, and some are more excitable than others; some are hyper, some are nervous. Whichever one your dog is, let’s stop them from pulling on the lead. We will go through a few different techniques on how to stop a dog pulling on the leash. If one fails, move to the […]
dog walking
Stop a dog pulling on a lead.

Firstly all dogs are different, and some are more excitable than others; some are hyper, some are nervous. Whichever one your dog is, let’s stop them from pulling on the lead. We will go through a few different techniques on how to stop a dog pulling on the leash. If one fails, move to the next one. Remember a dog is not born knowing how to walk on a lead; they need training from their owners to show them exactly how. Did you know that a dog’s natural walking pace is twice as fast as us humans? So they need all the encouragement and training to learn to walk at our speed.

Why does my dog pull on the lead?

So you might be wondering why a dog pulls on the lead, usually, its because they don’t know any different, they quickly learn only to walk forward on a walk. Dogs think the quicker they walk, the further they will get. You typically tend to find the first few minutes of a walk is much more intense with their pulling; this is pure excitement. The excitement of sniffing new smells and being outside ready to explore; some dogs can’t contain themselves, which is understandable. 

Before you go on a dog walk

Before you go on a walk try not to get them all excited by shouting Walkieeees at the top of your voice, this will only encourage them to be even more excited whilst out walking, and it will result in more of a struggle outside. Quietly grab the lead, poop bags, put your shoes on and calmly walk them out of the house. You’re then not starting on the back foot with a hyped-up dog. You could try letting them burn off a little steam in the garden before your walk also.

dog pulling on the lead
Keep going you can stop them pulling on a lead

Choose the correct lead.

I prefer a harness because a collar pulls around a dogs neck making them cough, wheeze and sometimes even being sick along the way. It’s only really been recent that hardnesses had become the more common choice than a collar. When I had dogs when I was younger, it was a collar and lead. 

There are several other different types of collars:

  • Harness – My prefered choice, excellent support, doesn’t choke.
  • Choker Collar – For bigger dogs, the name says it all. Not suitable for smalls dogs or dogs with long thin necks like a whippet or a ground hound.
  • Collar – Standard collar can also cause slight choking and gasping.
  • Headcollar – When they pull the lead pushes their head down, not our prefered choice.
  • Slip Leads – Like a choker, it will continue to choke the more they pull. Can be dangerous!

Most dogs you do not need the collars that offer self choking, and if you follow the technique below, you shouldn’t need ever use a choke collar. However, we understand that some dogs are a lot bigger, and need to be safely controlled; only then you should look at other options. There are several local dog professionals always on hand to help you with one on one sessions.

What we learnt so far

So, we know why dogs pull on the lead, we also know not to get them excited before a walk, and we have chosen the correct choice of dog lead/collar.

Now let’s do this.

How to stop your dog pulling on the lead

Stop and start technique.

When you feel the lead tighten, you should stop walking with your dog straight away, keep quiet and remain calm. Repeat this as many times as you need to. Calmly stop each time for a few seconds. When they stop, and the lead is slack, only then you can carry on walking. By completing the stop and start technique, your dog will begin to understand that they don’t go anywhere if they pull on the lead. 

Do not ever pull them back or jerk on the dog lead. Calmly stop each time. You may not have even made it out of the path yet, and you have already stopped twice. This is fine! It would be best if you were consistent. The quicker you resolve it now, the quicker you and your dog can have plenty of enjoyable walks together. 

Stop, start and reverse technique

This technique is the same as stop and start approach but also including a reverse direction. You include this when you have stopped, but your dog hasn’t stopped and is still pulling on the lead. You reverse and turn around, start walking in the opposite direction. This then triggers their brains the moment of you walk in a different direction. This will snap them out on focusing on only going forward. Then carry on walking and repeating the Stop and Start Technique whilst including the reverse direction if and when it’s needed.

Get in the zone

When you are lead training your dog, you have to have the mindset that your leash training and not going on a dog walk, be ready to have your patients tested and be consistent.

dog having a treat whilst on a walk
Reward your dog with a treat

Rewarding your dog

Using treats whilst lead training is essential, they can help change your dog’s behaviour for the best. Dog treats are the perfect incentive. They are also useful for distracting your dog away from things that can cause inappropriate behaviours. Make sure you don’t run out before the end of the training session as this wouldn’t be consistent. The aim is then eventually you will cut the treats down or phase them out completely. Reward your dog when you feel fit and mostly when loose lead continuous walking is in process.

Best dog lead training environment.

Practise in a quiet area and safe area, away from the roads with no distractions. These techniques can’t be completed effectively on a busy high street or near a busy motorway. You need to find an open place or a field, that would be perfect.

a dog - loose lead whilst walking
Loose lead

Summary

With patients and constancy, you will have no problems training your dog to walk on the lead nicely. We hope that the techniques will help you have many enjoyable dog walks together ahead of you.

About the Author

Teresa loves animals and travelling around the UK! She currently has two dogs and two cats. She loves caring for and sharing her knowledge of pets. Qualified Dog Groomer and currently studying Canine Behaviour. She has been part of the Dog Friendly Team since 2016

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This site does not constitute pet medical advice, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.