Dog Training

How to Stop a Dog From Pulling on the Leash

Going for a walk can be a beautiful experience. Your dog runs quietly next to you while enjoying the nature together. In reality, however, it's not as relaxing as it sounds. Your pet will pull like crazy on the leash. Fortunately, learning how to stop a dog from pulling on the leash is not difficult at all!

Dog with leash
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Admittedly, walks are significantly less fun when you have to use so force to do so. 

With puppies and small dogs, it's usually no problem, but with larger and stronger dogs, it is indeed very troublesome. 

Relaxing walks should be commonplace. If you learn how to stop a dog from pulling on the leash, this kind of walks will be the norm!

Why Your Dog Pulls on the Leash


There are several reasons. It heavily depends on your pet's personality and habits. Hunting dogs, for example, pull on the leash when they have picked up an interesting scent.

For most dogs, going for a walk is an exciting experience. There are so many interesting smells and exciting things to discover. 

Young dogs are especially curious. A walk is still something completely new for them. Leash training is a must for this: if not, they'll start pulling on the leash uncontrollably. 

Nonetheless, this is an understandable behavior. Dogs sniff to experience the world around them.

There are plenty of distractions for your pet on the road: people, plants and other animals. They all look very different from you. Thus, these things catch your dog's attention pretty easily. 

As a result, everything around your pet is interesting, so it's no wonder they don't adjust to your walking pace.

Many dogs already know the familiar paths and get excited because of it. Maybe you go to a park where your dog likes to play, or to a place where acquaintances who always have a treat in hand await.

When your pet is particularly looking forward to their walks, they pull on the leash all the more. After all, they want to get there as quickly as possible.

The pulling is strongest at the beginning of the walk and towards the end. This is quite normal: at the beginning, your dog is happy about the walk. 

Then, when you are near home, they want enter as soon as possible!

Your dog will stand their ground. Maybe they know that there is food after the walk, the reason behind the pulling. They want in, quickly!

Remember: many dogs' walking pace is simply faster than ours. They have more stamina and want exercise. Most of the time, they don't understand that we don't want to run as fast as they do.

Pulling on the leash quickly becomes a habit. Your pet wants to determine the route themselves. If they discover something interesting, they want to see what it is. 

If you allow this behavior, you will no longer have any authority during the walks. Your dog will realize that pulling works and will doe it more often from now on.

Many dog owners assume that by pulling on the leash, their pets are demonstrating a dominant behavior.

Regardless, this is usually not the case. Dogs are simply too excited and interested in their surroundings. They often do not even notice when their owners walk slower.

Don't punish your dog for it! They haven't learned this is a bad thing yet. It is rather much more important to train how to stop a dog from pulling on a leash.


Training Needs Consistency

Leash walking Walking
Show your dog that pulling on the leash is useless. If you don't get them used to it, they won't stop. After all, they don't know what they're doing is wrong.

Training takes a lot of time and patience. Especially with senior dogs used to pulling. 

To older pets, pulling has long become a habit. That is why it's important to properly educate puppies from the very beginning. 

It's essential that the training must be consistently adhered to. If your pet is allowed to pull on the leash one time and then not the next, the training becomes pointless.

If they sometimes pull without any downside, then the training time will take even longer and even might be useless. You should forbid pulling every time without exception.

Your goal is to keep the leash loose the entire time. This only works if your dog walks beside you and you have about the same pace.

Nevertheless, don't confuse this with the 'Heel' command. That'd mean that your dog must walk right next to your left leg. 

That would be too exhausting during the entire walk. Normally, the command is not necessary if you know how to stop a dog from pulling on the leash.

When simply walking without pulling, your pet has more freedom. They also have more fun walking. The main idea is to make the leash a stress-free tool. You decide where your dog goes and how fast they run with you!

What to Avoid: 3 Unsuccessful Methods

Collar on dog

1) Forceful Pulling

Many dog owners pull hard on the leash once when their pet is running too fast. You should not do that under any circumstances.

Even if it seems to work at first, it doesn't help in the long run.

It doesn't take long for your dog to start pulling again, just like before, since they don't know what they did was wrong. It could happen that they simply ran in the wrong direction.

Also, this type of punishment affects your relationship with your pet very badly. It hurts them and, in some cases, can cause damage to their neck.

2) Flexi Leashes

These leashes are especially popular for small breeds. Dogs have more freedom and can determine their own pace with it. The leash unrolls itself when your pet runs faster than you.

They are definitely not suitable for breaking a dog's pulling habit. Flexi leashes make pets have too much leeway and they, thus, don't learn to walk at the same pace as you. Dogs also don't grow aware of how near you are.

All in all, it's best to remain to leashes with a fixed length. 

3) Prone Collars & Electric Shocks

Never use these collars. They will only scare and hurt your dog. This will make him lose the joy of walking and will harm your relationship with them. Punishment is not a good teaching method, nor will break your pet's bad habits. It is more effective to reward correct behavior.

3 tips against pulling

1) Stand Firm When Your Dog Pulls

Your dog must learn that pulling is not successful. Also, they should pay attention to you during the walk and not be completely distracted. To teach them these points, there is a simple method.

As soon as your pet pulls strongly on the leash, you simply stop. You interrupt the walk by doing this. At first, of course, they will be confused and may pull even more. 

However, remain consistent and do not pay attention to them. After a short time, your dog will come to terms with the fact that they can't get to where he wanted to go just a moment ago. 

They will turn to you and wait to see what happens next. Congratulations: you have their full attention now!


Then, when your pet takes a few steps toward you, you should give them a reward. Give them one too when they stop. After that, the walk can continue again. 

If your dog doesn't pull anymore, you can reward them again. They will remember that, so it is worthwhile for them to walk quietly next to you. 

You'll probably have to stop very often during the first few walks. But as annoying as it is, do not make exceptions.

Only consistent training will be meaningful. So don't allow your dog to pull in any way. After all, they should learn that they are not allowed to do it.

After some time of practice, your pet will no longer pull on the leash. Time to increase the level of difficulty!

Run faster or slower from time to time. Suddenly change the running direction. When your dog adapts to these changes, reward them. They will learn to follow you and tune in to your pace.

2) Shift Directions

Changing direction would be an alternative to standing still. Is your pet running faster than you again? Just turn around and run in the opposite direction. 

This also prevents them from reaching their new destination, and now you are in front of them again. Your dog has no choice but to follow you.

For puppies, a walk is something new. Of course, they do not yet walk neatly next to you. But you can easily get your young dog into the habit. 

Reward him every time they walk quietly next to you. As a result, they will do it even more often in the hopes of getting more treats. Their attention is now on you as well because you are holding the food bag.

If your dog is distracted anyway, you should draw their attention back to you. Call their name, for example, and they will focus on you again.

3) Exercise More

It can also help if you let your dog excercise more. Some dog breeds naturally need a lot of exercise and therefore pull on the leash. Play a lot with your pet so they can really exhaust themselves to calm them during walks.

Leash Training

My Conclusion

Pulling on the leash is something very natural for dogs. They want to explore their surroundings and pick up interesting tracks. 

Once they have gotten used to pulling, breaking the habit is very difficult. Although with the right exercises and consistent training you can revert that attitude back.

Never let your dog get what they want by pulling! 

So forbid them every time. During walks, they should not be too distracted. Direct their attention back to you with little tricks.

If you do the recommended exercises consistently, you will learn how to stop a dog from pulling on the leash in no time. Nothing will stand in the way of a relaxing walk.

Written by Anja Boecker
Written by Anja Boecker

My name is Anja Boecker and I am a dog trainer and behavior consultant (IHK certificate). With these articles I would like to help you understand your dog better and build an inseparable bond.

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