There aren’t a lot of things as annoying as owning a dog that pulls on the leash. But don’t worry. There are ways to stop leash pulling.
Why do dogs pull on the leash?
Dogs love to be outdoors! Going for a walk is the most exciting part of their day. It’s full of new smells and sounds. And, let’s face it, you’re not the best walking partner for your dog. Your natural and comfortable walking pace is a lot slower than his.
Why should you work towards stopping your dog’s leash pulling?
In short, because besides being an annoying behavior, it can be a very dangerous one. Your dog can knock you to the ground – or someone else walking him – and cause serious injuries.
Besides, if your dog pulls when you least expect him to, he can get loose and run into all sorts of problems. He can get into a dog fight, run into traffic, or get lost.
So in this post, I want to give you the knowledge you need to stop your dog from pulling on the leash.
Let’s start by looking at what are the equipment options you have that will help stop leash pulling.
Equipment You Can Use
Leash and Collar
That’s right. A simple leash and collar will do.
There’s just a small detail that most people miss when trying to train their dog to stop pulling on the leash. That is where the collar is placed.
To be able to successfully control your dog’s movements, the collar should be placed high on the dog’s neck.
If the collar is placed in the middle of the dog’s neck he’ll be able to use his strength and choke himself. If you place it high in the neck, you’re able to control your dog’s head movement better. All this without choking him.
In the next section, there’s a video where you can see where should the collar be placed.
Slip Lead (With a Safety Stop)
I know this can be a controversial one.
But what I’m talking about is a slip lead that has a safety stop. That way it will only cause slight discomfort to your dog without choking him. I would never recommend one that don’t have a safety stop.
Yet, a slip lead without a safety stop won’t choke your dog if they’re used correctly. The problem is that most people don’t know how to properly use them.
This video will show you exactly what’s the best and safest way to use a slip lead. DO NOT use a slip lead on your dog before learning how to properly use it:
This is my favorite one and it’s what I use on my dog to stop leash pulling.
Harnesses take the pressure off your dog’s neck and distribute it evenly around the body.
With this said, avoid harnesses with a back-clip. Have you ever seen sleigh dogs? They also use a harness, a back-clip harness – you attach the leash on the back.
With back-clip harnesses, you have no control over your dog’s body. That’s not what you’re looking for if your dog is a known leash puller. He’ll just drag you around the park.
Instead, you should use a front-clip harness. That way, when your dog tries to pull, his body will immediately shift to one of the sides. He’ll start learning that leash pulling won’t move him forward.
This is a great option if you have a big size dog that can easily overpower you.
Ideally, your dog will learn how to not pull only with the collar and leash. For big breeds, you can use a front-clip harness and a collar. Then either use two leashes or a double-ended training lead like the Halti Training Lead. That way you can focus on training your dog with the collar and, at the same time, have the front-clip harness to be safe. You’ll always stay in control.
This one is also a great option for big breed owners that fear losing control over their dogs.
A head halter can look a bit scary but it’s a very effective way to stop your dog from leash pulling.
Much like having the collar high on the dog’s neck, head halters give you control over the dog’s head. That way, when they pull, their head will turn to one of the sides and they’ll be unable to keep pulling forward.
Patience and Consistency
As with anything in dog training – and I can’t stress this enough – you need to have a lot of patience and be consistent.
This is especially true with leash pulling. This is not something that your dog needs to know only now and then. He’ll need to know this every time you go out for a walk.
Owning a dog and training him is all about having patience. You can’t rush through training and you can’t use brute force either. Each dog has his own learning pace as we do.
Speaking of consistency, if somebody else in your household also walks your dog, they need to know the plan. Make sure they know how to properly apply the training techniques you’re using. Or else, it will take a lot longer for you to see any progress.
Equipment You Should Avoid
I can’t talk about leash pulling without mentioning what equipment you should NOT use.
Here is what you should never use if you want your dog to stop pulling:
- Retractable leashes: if your dog pulls too hard, the stop system can break and there’s no stopping your dog.
- Pain inducing equipment: for obvious reasons. You’ll never read anything written by me that supports any method that will create fear and pain in a dog… EVER!
- “Shock-absorbing” leashes: simply because you need your dog to feel every subtle pressure you apply on the leash. This is how you will guide him through the walk. They’re great if you want to take your dog out for a jog, though!
Working on Loose Leash Walking
This is the goal you should have in mind.
Your dog needs to learn that there can’t be any tension on the leash. What you’re looking for is for him to walk on a loose leash.
Don’t let your dog get what he wants by pulling. If your dog is pulling because he wants to smell that tree, don’t let him. If your dog gets what he wants by pulling on the leash, he’s going to keep doing it.
There are several ways for you to address this problem. You can either focus on the walking part or you can focus on getting your dog to pay attention to you.
Personally, I prefer the second option. This will also help with the rest of your dog’s training process and not only with leash pulling.
Focus on Walking
Walking on a loose leash is what you want and so that’s what your dog needs to be rewarded for.
When talking about rewards, I’m not talking about giving your dog a treat at every step you take with a loose leash. For your dog, walking in itself is a reward.
It’s as simples as this:
- If your dog walks with a loose leash, you keep on walking
- As soon as your dog starts pulling, you stop
- Only resume walking when your dog steps back and there’s no tension on the leash.
Pretty easy, right? No need to yell, scold, or get angry at your dog.
So why doesn’t everybody do this? Again, because this takes a LOT of patience and consistency.
Focus on Getting Your Dog’s Attention
Here we’re focusing on getting your dog to pay attention to you.
That way, you can reward him with a treat at first and then only by praising him every time he looks at you for guidance. You want your dog to look at you for tips on what he should do next.
You can start by training this at home. Then, slowly progress to areas with more and more distractions as your dog progresses.
Here’s a great video of how to do this while walking your dog:
Leash pulling is one of the most annoying behaviors in a dog. Especially because it’s a behavior that we have to face every single day. There’s no going around it.
Choose the equipment that suits you best and one of the training methods I mentioned above. Keep going at it.
Consistency is everything when training a dog to stop pulling on a leash.
It’s going to take time but give it one month of consistent training and I’m sure you’ll start seeing some progress.
Let me know in the comments what equipment and training method you chose. I’d love to know! 🙂