ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Stop Leash Pulling

Updated on September 5, 2013

So, your dog is a pain in the arm. literally. We’ve all been there as dog owners, and it’s no surprise our canines are willing to take advantage of us during a daily walk. It’s routine, guaranteed, and part of a dog’s personality… Isn’t it? It’s a common misconception that bad behavior is simply part of who our dogs are. It’s true that some breeds are more challenging than others, but a behavior is rarely permanent.

Training your dog to stop pulling is an easy way to begin communicating with your dog. It’s important to understand how your dog thinks and why he pulls in the first place before you can end it: Pulling gets him where he wants to go. When you step out the door and your dog brings his leash taught, straining his neck, what do you do? You walk forward. Do you know that’s a reward? We usually think of rewards in terms of food, but in real life situations there’s not always a treat bag in our pocket. Besides, treats don’t work on most dogs while outside. There’s so many exciting things to see and smell! Who cares about food!?

What To Do About It

Start by planting yourself firmly whenever your dog puts tension on the leash. Don’t stretch your arm or bend at the waist to give him more slack. Just stop moving. If your dog is large, hold the leash in a way that won’t injure your wrist. Most owners hook the loop over their wrist. A safer way to hold a leash is to put only your thumb through the loop, then close the rest of your hand around the entire handle. The leash should hang down through your palm. Your other hand grasps the leash just below.

Essentially, you’re holding the leash like a baseball bat, which allows you substantially more leverage than your wrist can offer. On normal walks, one hand with your thumb through the loop is fine, but you know your dog is going to pull for now so be ready with both. Nylon leashes make this method awkward because they’re too thick to hold comfortably provide no give, and is very slippery. Rope leashes are a better choice, and leather is the best. It will fit your hand, won't "snap" your dog's collar as hard, and you won't lose your grip, setting your dog loose into traffic.

Now your dog is pulling and wants to move forward. You are standing firmly, holding the leash tight. Most dogs get confused and will turn to look at you, come back to you, or run circles around you. They wonder why their tactic is no longer working. Be patient. Your job is to wait for ANY slack in the leash. The second your dog gives you the tiniest bit of slack, say “Yes!” in your most excited, happy, smiling voice and move forward.

Timing is critical. Your “Yes!” and movement should be simultaneous and without delay the moment your dog stops pulling. Your timing is important in any training exercise with your dog. The “Yes!” signals he’s done something right, the exact moment he's done it right, allowing him to realize what action gets the results he's looking for!

Don’t forget, as soon as the pulling starts again, you must stop moving, even if you only took one step forward. Every time he pulls, his reward (forward progression) is removed. When he doesn't pull, his reward is permitted. Gradually, your dog will walk longer and longer without putting tension on the leash.

Don’t be discouraged if you only get five feet out your door the first few tries. Some breeds are more stubborn or have a different learning curve. Spend no more than 10 minutes training if you’re stuck like this. Your dog’s repeated failure frustrates both of you and won’t help him learn. If you need to take him out on-leash for bathroom breaks, use a different device that he is allowed to pull with so he won’t get confused. Many owners have a harness or head collar they use when they can't take the time to adhere to normal rules. Your dog will learn the difference quickly.

The Next Step

Remember that dogs are still individuals, but they are dogs first. Again, behavior is rarely permanent, but that goes for the good habits too. Once your dog has learned to stop pulling, you’re responsible for keeping the behavior up. You have to remain consistent and keep your rules in place to continue having those pleasant strolls with your canine partner. If this approach doesn't work for you, try another. Dog training has many philosophies and methods.

Learning to deal with different distractions on a walk is the next step in leash training. Once you've got a good foundation and feel comfortable, you'll still notice your dog pulling at things he is interested in. See this article on dealing with excitement:


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      9 years ago

      My dogs are used to running to their hearts' content while pulling me on a scooter hitched up with racing harnesses, but my sweet old girl can't pull any more even though she so wants to! So we're slowing down to walking again after many years. I hate having to restrain them, especially if it involves any harshness, but this looks like a good approach, I'll try it when we're out tomorrow. Thanks for sharing.

    • hecate-horus profile image


      9 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Good info. I have a 60lb Goldendoodle, and she loves to pull!

    • trainerlex profile imageAUTHOR

      Emily Curtis 

      9 years ago from USA

      Haha, yes being pulled by a small dog is much less of a bother. My 90lb Doberman was very bad with pulling when I adopted him, but he learned quickly.

    • TropicalSnowAngel profile image


      9 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I'm going to have to try this. I have a somewhat overactive Chihuahua/Terrier mix that tries to drag me down the block. Unfortunately for her, she forgot she only weighs 10 lbs! :)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)