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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kathy714   west greenwich, RI

4/6/2016 3:55:06 PM

I live by myself ,so i am the only person to walk my dog , i am a small lady ,and after 2 falls,and suggestion from my son and daughter-in-law i bought a gentle leader ,which i guess is a head harness,and it does make a big difference,but i noticed she really doesn't like it ,and also won't really pee either,where my last pit use to go every couple of yards ,marking her spot.I like your idea,and i am going to try it ,makes lots of sense....Thanks

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Ruth Cook   Tustin, Michigan

10/15/2015 7:51:55 AM

I use the head halter on my dog and he doesn't pull on it most of the time but he chews constantly while it's on. He is so distracted by the halter that he won't eliminate while it's on.

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Lil Smokey   Mauldin, SC

7/30/2015 6:25:46 PM

I got the harness but really been trying with just a regular collar to get him to stop pulling. That's not working so I guess I will put the harness on and try it hope and pray that it works will give feedback on it.

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