How to stop leash pulling

A white dog pulling against their leash

Pretty much every dog can expect to spend some time walking on the end of the leash–which means we don’t always realize how unnatural this behavior is. Given your dog’s natural inclination to move in circles, browse through smells, and change their pace as they please, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they pull on the leash. You and your dog share what’s known as the oppositional reflex: when you feel pressure on the leash, you resist it. Walks turn into a battle of wills–and if your dog is large and strong, you might not feel safe taking them out. If your dog likes to pull, train your dog to follow your lead.

Tips on training your dog to stop pulling

  • Use the right equipment. If your dog is a strong puller, a front-clip harness helps redirect their strength to the side and reduces the amount of pressure placed on your shoulder.
  • Avoid aversive training equipment or methods. Prong collars, choke collars, and shock collars all rely on applying positive punishment to stop pulling. In the long run, your dog may associate the unpleasant sensations with what they encounter on a walk and develop reactivity or anxiety.
  • Start indoors. Teach your dog the basics in as quiet and distraction-free of an environment as possible before taking them outside to work.
  • Burn off some energy before a training walk. If your dog is boiling over with energy, you’ll have to work much harder to capture their attention. Set both of you up for success by playing with or conducting short training sessions to take the edge off and get them primed to learn.
  • Feed your dog their meals during a walk. A hungry dog is a motivated dog.

Suggested equipment

  • Front-clip or No Pull harness
  • Martingale
  • Treat and treat pouch
  • Clicker (if using)
  • Waist leash (if needed)

Note: Be careful pairing H-shape front-clip harnesses with martingales, as they can place stress on your dog’s shoulders as they pull. If you want to use both a harness and martingale together, look for harnesses that form a Y-shape over the chest.

Always remember that the long-term goal is to train your dog to choose not to pull. Training equipment helps you show your dog what you want, but should never be relied on in lieu of actual training.

Why you shouldn't let your dog pull on the leash

Leash pulling might not seem like a big deal to ignore, especially if you have a smaller dog. However, the constant pressure of the collar on a dog’s neck can lead to throat injuries or other long-term health issues. Furthermore, walks should be a pleasant and relaxing time for both you and your dog, giving you an opportunity to bond with each other–not be at constant odds.

Gentle Beast offers online training courses led by pet behavior expert Alex Sessa, CPDT-KA. Our Leash Walking workshops help you train your dog to walk nicely beside you and put an end to the question of “who’s walking who.’

About the Author

A picture of Melody smiling towards the camera
Melody Lee
Contributing Writer

Melody Lee is a contributing writer for Gentle Beast, and is a CPDT-KA dog trainer. She lives in Manhattan with two feral cats, Littlepip and Alphonse, that tolerate her clicker training attempts. One day, her cats might let her adopt a dog of her own.

Learn more

Trainer-certified equipment and tools for the modern dog parent

Premium, efficacy driven equipment and interactive content guidance

Text Link
Puppy FAQ
Text Link
Puppy Essentials
Text Link
Adoption
Text Link
Recipes
Text Link
Dog Diets
Text Link
Treats
Text Link
Dog Food
Text Link
Pet Insurance
Text Link
Skin/Coat Care
Text Link
Dental Care
Text Link
Veterinary Care
Text Link
Supplements
Text Link
Walkers
Text Link
Rescues
Text Link
Boarding
Text Link
Grooming
Text Link
Dog Friendly Hotels
Text Link
Dog Friendly Camping
Text Link
Dog Friendly Beaches
Text Link
Dog Friendly Parks
Text Link
Guarding Breeds
Text Link
Drafting Breeds
Text Link
Herding Breeds
Text Link
Retrieving Breeds
Text Link
Genetic Testing
Text Link
Toy Dogs
Text Link
Hounds
Text Link
Shepherds
Text Link
Terriers
Text Link
Hunting Breeds
Text Link
Dog Care Equipment
Text Link
Treats & Pouches
Text Link
Walk Equipment
Text Link
Household
Text Link
Specialty
Text Link
Crates & Pens
Text Link
Agility Training
Text Link
Nosework
Text Link
Recall
Text Link
Impulse Control
Text Link
Basic Manners
Text Link
Bite Inhibition
Text Link
Socialization
Text Link
Reactivity
Text Link
Walk Training
Text Link
House Training
Text Link
Operant Conditioning
Text Link
Find a Trainer
Text Link
Hero Dogs
Text Link
Famous Dogs
Text Link
Ancient Dogs
Text Link
Evolution
Text Link
Triggers
Text Link
Body Language
Text Link
Dog Senses
Text Link
Dog Psychology
Text Link
Training Equipment
Text Link
Mythology
Text Link
Companion Breeds
Text Link
Competitive Training