How to stop your dog pulling on the lead

Your dog pulling on their lead is not unusual - this is something that many dog owners struggle to overcome. Training your dog not to pull requires empathy and patience.

Look at things from your dog’s point of view

Going out for a walk is the highlight of your dog’s day. And when dogs have fun, they rarely walk anywhere - they gait or trot. Also, dogs have four legs and we only have two – our walking pace is far too slow for an average sized healthy dog who’s excited about being out and about.

You don’t need to run everywhere with your dog. But increasing your walking speed a little will go a long way to making both your lives easier.

Also, smell is your dog’s primary sense. Dogs absorb the vast majority of their information via what they can smell, so their urge to pull towards different odours is incredibly strong.

Basic tips to train your dog not to pull

Once you understand these points, it’s easier to start training your dog to walk on a loose lead. Here are a few hints and tips.

  • Communicate with your dog. They need to know when they’re doing the right thing. Give your dog positive verbal feedback whenever the lead is loose to help them understand what you want from them
  • Carry high value treats. If you’re carrying delicious smelly treats such a cheese or sausage your dog will be very interested in staying close to you. Also, loose lead training can be tough for your dog to master so you need to be able to ‘pay’ them effectively for getting it right
  • Directional changes. In the early stages of training keep your dog guessing where you’re going. Try and take different routes to your destination and put in some erratic turns to keep him on their toes and interested in what you’re doing
  • Don’t pull or ‘check’ your dog. If you pull your dog back they will pull forward, it’s painful for your dog and it’s not fun for you
  • Don’t use choke or check chains. These have been proven to cause skeletal and soft tissue damage and are now deemed outdated and ineffective pieces of equipment.

Walking aids can be very effective

No matter why you’re struggling to stop your dog pulling, walking aids can seem like miracle cures. There are two types of walking aids, head collars and body harnesses.

Head collars such as ‘Dogmatics’ or ‘Gencons’ work on a similar principle to the head collars horses wear. Dogs find it more difficult to pull against the nose strap and therefore don’t try unless there is a really big distraction. Even then the strength of their pull is nowhere near as strong as it would be if they were just wearing a collar.

It can take time for some dogs to get used to wearing something around their faces so use lots of treats and praise to get them used to it.

Body harnesses that have attachments both on the back and the front can be very effective in reducing pulling, especially in larger breeds.

If you’re still struggling to train your dog to walk on a loose lead contact our Pet Support Team.