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How To Stop My Dog Pulling On The Lead

Updated: Apr 6

Dog walking on the lead next to person.

If you haven't read Why Does My Dog Pull On The Lead yet, then head over and do that first. Understanding the reasons behind our dog's behaviour is the key to being able to work with it.

Pulling on lead can happen for a number of reasons and once you know why it is happening, then can help to decide what you need to put into practice. The training advice below is for dogs without pain or behaviour issues that may need to be taken into consideration.

First! A few things to consider:


Basically, both you and your dog should be comfortable. There are lots of 'quick fix' leads, collars and other tools around but practice and good technique is all you need. The more comfortable you both feel, the easier the training. Aim for a well-fitted harness and an easy-to-hold, clip-on training lead.


Before heading out and starting your training, make a plan that is going to help set you and your dog up for success. If the woods, for example, is a place where you dog cannot contain their excitement then this is not likely to be the best place to start your training.

Decided on your walking or training route and take all necessary training gear with you. Often, getting in the car and driving to a good spot works so much better than leaving the house and having your dog drag you down the road before you have even started!

Happy Walks With Your Dog Guide

If you need more help with planning your walks and knowing how to get the best results from your dog in general, check out our Happy Walks With Your Dog guide.

Okay, so we have some good equipment and we have planned our training session. What can we do to help our dog not pull on the lead?

Being Close Is Best

Dogs find the outside world rewarding and can be desperate to get out and explore. When out with our dogs, it can be easy to forget to go out as a partnership and spend quality time with them. Do you head out on your dog walk to listen to a podcast or speak on the phone?

If we don't engage with our dogs, there is no real reason for them to want to engage with us. Engagement with us promotes staying close, checking in and wanting to be with you rather than pulling forwards to get to everything else.

Build up value in being close to you by rewarding your dog for staying close, checking in and following you, especially if they do this out of choice rather than you asking them to!

The Follow Me game encourages your dog to stay close, check in with you and add's value to spending time with you when outside.

Reward What You Like

With most training exercises, I see people saying 'no' too much and not saying 'well done' enough. Remember our dogs don't understand that you need them to 'walk nicely' and to be honest, they don't really know what a lead is.

So, if our dogs pull and we tell them no or stop it or heel, this gives them no understanding of what we are actually asking them to do.

Even if they try to offer a preferable behaviour, we often don't reward enough. Remember the outside world is highly rewarding to our dogs, so we need to make walking with us a pleasant experience that they enjoy doing, not a frustrating one.

Consistency Is Key!

Setting our dogs up for success means helping them to not get it wrong. It might be that you have had a lovely training session, but then you let your dog pull you all the way back home or to the car. It could be that one person in the family does the training and another person doesn't.

Whenever you are working with your dog, you need to keep the training consistent and help set your dog up so that they can't get it wrong.

Here are some examples:

  • You are the only person in the family that can do the training.

    • Possible solution = anyone else takes the dog to an enclosed field so that they can let the dog off lead.

  • You don't want to do the training every day.

    • Possible solution = take a break by taking your dog out for a walk on a long line so you don't have to worry about pulling.

  • You would like to take you dog on the school run but your training isn't ready yet and you think it will go wrong.

    • Don't take your dog on the school run. Schedule in another walk/training time in your day instead.

Top Tip - Often dogs pull to things that they want to get to such as smells, other dogs and people. Dog's aren't pulling you to be naughty, its just that they have learned over time that the best way to get to all these lovely things is to place their weight into the lead to get there quicker. Be consistent in not following your dog when they pull at the end of the lead. Help them to understand that those things are off limits.

Build Up Your Training Slowly

To start with, choose a training area which is boring for your dog. Keep training sessions short and sweet to ensure success.

Build the duration of your training sessions gradually in boring areas first. This helps to build your dog's concentration levels and their ability to train for longer.

Then build up the level of distraction around you. Take your dog to a place that offers easy distractions, for example, around other dogs at a big distance. You may need to shorten the duration of your training session again momentarily.

Teach me using 3 Ds

Focus on Distraction, Duration and Distance and only increase one at a time.

Long Lines Are Your Friend

This might sound a bit counter-productive but actually using a 10 m training line can be really helpful when teaching lead walking.

Often a short lead and keeping your dog close can add to frustration and pulling. I have seen many a dog relax and slow down once they have the freedom of the long line. Once they have slowed down and they are checking in with you, you can start to reward for them staying close and following you and building up to shortening that lead.

The long line also offers the chance for both you and your dog to take a break in between training sessions.


Remember that our dogs only do what they feel is in their best interest. We often expect them to do a lot of things when we haven't actually taught them all the skills they need.

If you would like more help with your training, please contact your nearest force-free positive training for personalised tips and advice.

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