White husky dog being walked on a lead

Our Top Tips To Keep Your Dog From Pulling on the Leash

Having a dog that pulls on the lead is one of the most common complaints we hear from dog owners. If your - big or little - pup does the same, here are some pointers to help.

Start Small

Add a training session to your daily routine. Little and often works for leash pulling, and in the beginning, you really might not get far. It’ll probably be very start and stop, so make sure you have time and patience for that.

When you embark on this, think of your dog’s daily walks solely as a lead training session! Remember, this is a mental workout for them too.

Be patient, and know that you might only walk as far as next door for the first few sessions. The aim isn’t to go far. It’s to change your dog's behaviour.

Set them up for success by going out at times of the day when they’re at their least excitable and energetic. Try to burn some energy in the garden beforehand, so they start the walk as relaxed and balanced as possible.

How to Train Good Leash Walking

Here’s what to actually do in your training sessions.

1. The first thing is to let your dog go to the end of the leash while you stand quietly and still. As soon as your dog's attention turns to you, give them something from your treat pouch to show them this is good behaviour.

2. With your pup’s attention on you, start walking. Encourage them to stay close to you with treats and verbal encouragement. Really make a fuss of them whenever they’re walking on a loose lead. You can reduce the amount of praise and treats further down the line.

3. If your dog starts getting too far away, stop and be still before the lead gets tight. Once the lead goes slack and your dog’s attention comes back to you, give some positive reinforcement in the form of another treat.

Keep doing this throughout the walk. It’s important you do this every single time your dog goes too far away.

Top Tips: Keep your daily walks consistent! Make sure the whole family is following this process to keep the message clear.

Labrador puppy on a lead

Pulled by Distractions

If your dog pulls when they’re walking past or around distractions, you’ll need to make a little training plan for that, too.

Put your dog’s favourite toy on the floor. If they start pulling on the leash to get to it when you’re walking, stop and call them back. Once your dog’s leash goes slack, reward the good behaviour by letting them have their toy.

This is a great way for your dog to learn good leash manners and the “Leave It” command. They’ll soon understand they get their reward faster when they wait for your go ahead!

Once they’ve learnt this, it should translate into more predictable behaviour when they see a squirrel at the park or find themself in a distracting situation.

Increase the Distance

Even if you have a small dog, you might not be giving them the exercise they need. Let them use up their excess energy by increasing the pace, distance and variety of their walks.

Keep Your Dog Engaged

Try not to be distracted by your phone while you’re out and about. As a pet parent, you need to keep your dog’s attention on their walks.

If you don’t, it’s inevitable they’re going to drag you all over the park to look at interesting things. Your pup’s looking to you to take the lead, so do so.

Remember, this is the best part of your dog’s day, so take the time to give them the attention they’ve been patiently waiting for.

Use the Right Tools

While the ideal course of action is to train your pup to walk with a loose lead from an early age, that doesn’t always happen.

Some dog pawrents find the best way to control lead pulling is to use an alternative collar or harness.

This can be especially the case with large dogs. If you’re at risk of going flying every time your dog lunges, you definitely need to have the right tools for the job.

Pull Harnesses

With harnesses that fit over your dog’s body, we often recommend a front clip harness.

With a lead attached to the clip on your dog’s chest rather than their back, it’s one of the most effective ways of bringing them to face you when they start pulling.

Take it a step further with a double-ended leash that attaches to both front and back clips for a two-handed approach that gives maximum control.

We offer harness fitting at our Matlock location because it’s imperative you choose a well-fitting option.

Our selection can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not sure what you need. So call in with your dog, and our Riber Pros will help with advice and fitting while you test products in store.

View all of our dog harnesses here.

dog harnesses on display

Try a Different Leash Length

Some dogs will pull no matter how much lead you give them. But others just want space to sniff and do their doggy thing.

Remember, a walk is your dog’s chance to interact with the world around them so giving them the space they need to sniff the roses is a good thing.

For a dog with pulling issues, we recommend avoiding retractable leads. This is because they can send mixed messages to a dog in training about how far away they should be from you at any time.

If your dog doesn’t have a great recall and you’d like to give them a good run around, we recommend a long training line.

If you still want to go ahead with a retractable leash, that’s fine. Just save it for wide-open spaces. Use a regular lead on your pavement walking sessions so your training isn’t impacted.

You can see all our dog leads here.

Head Collar

Using a head halter can be another good option for lead pullers. It fits over your pup’s head like a horse halter, leaving their mouth free for eating and panting. It works by turning and guiding your dog’s head when they start to pull.

There is a bit of a learning curve for both you and your pooch with these and they can take some getting used to before you see an improvement. Plus, it’s vital that head collars fit correctly to both work properly and stay on your dog.

We definitely recommend coming into the store for a fitting with one of our Riber Pros if you’re considering this option.

Stay Away From

No good things come from using a collar that causes pain or uncomfortable pressure when a dog pulls.

We recommend steering clear of choke collars and slip leads that tighten around the neck. They can restrict air flow, cause damage to the trachea and don’t necessarily stop them from pulling anyway. So please stay away from those.

Last Words On Pulling

The good news is that you have lots of good options if your dog’s a puller. We’re always available if you need more information or advice. Drop in and see us at either Matlock or Duffield, and remember to bring your pup for some training.

You can use our self-serve dog wash (Matlock), get a walk-in ear clean or just raid the treat jar while you’re here!

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