Dog Pulling on Leash

Don't let your dog pull you around. Essential leash training tips to keep your dog from pulling.

By | Posted: March 5, 2012, 9 a.m. EST

dog pulling on leash

Why dogs do this

A dog pulls on the leash for several reasons:

• Sees, hears, or smells something exciting.
• Excess energy makes it hard for her to contain herself.
• Through experience, realizes that pulling on leash makes the handler walk faster or go the direction she wants.
• Because she can.

Why this dog behavior is a problem

Pulling on leash can start off innocently, but can become a problem for both the dog and the handler. The added pressure of the collar against the dog’s windpipe (trachea) can cause wheezing or coughing, which may be only temporary, or may cause long-term or even permanent damage to the dog. A dog who pulls strongly can cause the handler to lose balance and slip or fall. Strong leash pulling by a large dog, especially near roads with traffic, can lead to serious accidents.

Siberian Husky

Dog leash training tools

Changing from a neck collar to either a head halter or front-attachment body harness can bring an immediate solution to leash pulling. These tools provide a mechanical advantage for the handler and do not cause pain for the dog. Using a head halter or front-attachment harness immediately allows the handler to control the direction and speed of the dog, without needing a lot of physical strength to accomplish this, but the dog still needs to learn how to walk politely, without pulling at all.

Teaching your dog to walk on a leash

A good way to teach loose-leash walking to a dog who pulls on the leash is to show her that pulling no longer “works” they way she thinks it will. When your dog starts to pull, simply stop walking. Stand still and wait for your dog to realize she’s not getting anywhere.

If your dog continues to pull after you’ve been stopped for three seconds, start very slowly walking backwards. Your dog will realize she’s losing ground now, not gaining it. When the dog turns around to look at you, wondering what’s gone wrong at your end of the leash, the leash will loosen a little bit. At that point, you can praise her and start walking forward again.

By consistently repeating this process each time she pulls, she will start to realize that pulling activates your “brakes” and not your “accelerator,” and the frequency of pulling will gradually diminish and eventually disappear.

Once your dog understands how to walk without pulling when wearing a head collar or body harness, you’ll be able to re-introduce her to walking politely while wearing an ordinary collar.

 


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Dawn   virginia beach, Virginia

10/8/2014 3:36:04 AM

Mark,

I also had a problem with my dog backing out of his collar. I felt if I went tighter with his collar, it would choke him. I left his collar as is and now when I walk him, I use his leash and a choker chain. when he tries to back out, his collar tightens and he realizes he cannot do so. He has stopped backing out of his leash but now we are working on not pulling when we walk. I am going to try the tip above which says to stop walking until his leash loosens to see how that works. I am keeping my fingers crossed!

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Mark S   Colorado Springs, CO

9/27/2014 4:27:48 AM

All great advice.But how do you stop them from backing out?

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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

8/2/2014 5:26:26 AM

Having your dog walk with a lose leach is well worth the work.

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diannamcheck   Wood River Junction, RI

7/30/2014 11:31:04 AM

I will be trying these suggestions. We just welcomed a wonderful Beagi into our family yesterday and he is a puller. His nose hits the ground and he is ready to move as fast as he can.

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