How to Handle a Dog That Pulls on the Leash: 10 Useful Tips

Updated on: Apr 28, 2023
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How to Handle a Dog That Pulls on the Leash: 10 Useful Tips

Walking with your dog is an excellent exercise and bonding experience. But it can be frustrating and risky when they constantly pull the leash!

Don't worry if you struggle to control your dog on walks – you're not alone! 

Here, we’ll share ten practical tips to help you deal with a dog that pulls on the leash. 

With these tips, you'll be able to enjoy peaceful and enjoyable walks with your pup in no time!

Try using a no-pull harness.

A no-pull harness can be helpful because of its two clips - one on the back and one on the front. The back clip is like a regular harness, but the front clip creates a "steering" effect that can help you control your dog firmly. 

If they start to pull, the front clip will make them turn toward you, which makes it harder for them to keep pulling. Remember that a no-pull harness is just one part of the solution and you still need to use other techniques like behavior modification so they’ll stop pulling. 

Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward your dog when they walk beside you without pulling.

This method involves rewarding your dog for good behavior, such as walking beside you without pulling on the leash. You can use treats, praise, or toys as rewards to encourage your dog to continue behaving well.

For example, if your dog walks beside you without pulling, give them a treat and use a happy tone to praise them so that they’ll know they're doing something good and will be more likely to repeat the behavior.

Positive reinforcement should be used consistently to reinforce good behavior. Avoid punishing or using negative reinforcement, like shouting or pulling on the leash. These methods can create fear or anxiety in your dog and worsen the pulling problem. 

Use the same commands and techniques when taking your dog for a walk.

When training your dog, you need to be as consistent as possible. This means using the same commands, techniques, and rewards every time you take your dog for a walk.

Well, it helps your dog understand what you expect from them and which behavior will be rewarded. If you always switch things like using different commands like "come" or "stay" up, it can be confusing for your pup and make it harder for them to learn.

If you want your dog to walk beside you, use the same command, such as "heel," and reward them with treats or praise when they walk beside you without pulling**.** And mixing up rewards, like giving treats one day and praise the next, can confuse things.

Take breaks and wait for your dog to calm down before continuing.

Taking a break can be helpful when dealing with a dog pulling on a leash. So, stop walking and stand still when your dog starts to pull. 

Wait for your dog to calm down before you release the tension on the leash and continue your walk. This tells your dog that pulling on the leash won't get them where they want to go.

Taking a break can also prevent physical harm from excessive pullings, like neck or back injuries. Plus, it helps you regain control of the walk and keeps your pup from getting too overstimulated. 

Rushing to continue the walk before your dog has calmed down can reinforce the pulling behavior and make it harder to train your dog to walk calmly on a leash.

If your dog starts to pull, quickly change direction. 

Have you heard of "the U-turn" technique?

You must quickly turn 180 degrees and walk in the opposite direction when your dog starts to pull. 

This will break their focus and make it harder for them to pull.

You want them to learn that walking calmly beside you is what they should be doing. But, it's important to remember to be gentle when turning around

You don't want to jerk the leash or yank your dog - that can be harmful and make your dog fearful of the leash. Instead, use a gentle guiding motion to turn in the opposite direction, and praise your dog when they follow you. 

Practice in a quiet area with few distractions. 

This is because walking on a leash can be overwhelming for some dogs, especially if you start in a busy or distracting area. 

Learning a new skill in a noisy and chaotic environment makes it difficult for your dogs to concentrate!

Avoid taking your dog to crowded parks if they are not used to walking on a leash yet. They may get overly excited or anxious, which leads to more pulling and other unwanted behaviors. 

Starting in a quiet area allows your dog to focus on the basics and learn the necessary skills without feeling overwhelmed by distractions.

You can gradually increase the level of distraction and move to a more challenging environment if your dog becomes more comfortable with the leash. 

Remember that dogs are different, and some may progress faster than others. So, being patient and working at your dog’s pace is vital.

Use a shorter leash to control your dog and prevent them from pulling.

A shorter leash can be helpful when you're trying to teach your dog not to pull because it gives you more control over your dog's movements. This way, they can't easily lunge away from you. 

Dogs usually pull on the leash because they're excited or want to explore, but a shorter leash helps keep them close to you. Give your dog some freedom to move around and check things out. 

Ensure the leash is not too short that your dog feels uncomfortable or too restrained. Use a leash that allows your dog to walk comfortably beside you.

Start using a loose leash when walking your dog.

When your dog slowly learns not to pull, it is a good idea to begin using a loose leash. That means letting your dog walk without tension on the leash, giving them some slack to move around.

Doing this gives your furry friend a chance to learn they can walk calmly beside you without any pressure or tension on the leash.

Consider working with a professional dog trainer.

You can also ask for help from professional trainers if you are having some trouble getting your dog to walk on a leash without pulling.

They can assess your dog's behavior and give you customized techniques that fit your dog's needs. They're experts at what they do and can offer guidance you might not find elsewhere.

Professional trainers have tons of experience with all kinds of dogs! They can also: 

  • recognize behavior patterns
  • identify what works and what doesn't.
  • get your results more quickly
  • offer ongoing support
  • and give advice even after your training sessions are over.

Having that kind of support system can give you peace of mind. It can make you feel more confident as you continue to work with your pup.

Training your dog not to pull on a leash takes time and patience. 

Teaching your furry friend to walk without pulling on a leash is no easy feat. It takes time and patience. Remember, dogs learn at their own pace, and consistency is critical. It would be best if you reinforced good behavior every chance you get.

Setting achievable goals and celebrating your dog's progress is also helpful, even if it's a slight improvement. If they're pulling less frequently than before, that's progress!

Stay calm and positive during these setbacks. Your dog is sensitive to your emotions. So, try not to get frustrated or upset, as this can affect their behavior.

There you have it! The ten tips for dealing with a dog that pulls on the leash. It can ensure that walking your dog is going to be fun and relaxing, but it can be downright frustrating if your furry friend constantly pulls on the leash. The good news is with the right combination of these tips, you can teach your dog to walk calmly beside you in no time. So you'll be able to enjoy peaceful and enjoyable walks with your dog!

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