Walking Nicely on a Lead

My dog pulls really hard on the lead, what do I do?

It is a common headache for dog owners that their dog pulls too hard whilst on a walk. This makes for an unpleasant walking experience and may even discourage owners from taking their dogs for regular walks.

There are many products on the market that may help reduce your dog’s pulling but none of them are cures, they are all just Band-Aids to a problem.

The only way to solve the issue is to train your dog to walk nicely on a loose lead. This is important because it makes going for walks a fun and pleasant experience and it means you are in full control of your dog whilst out and about.

This is something every dog owner should do, however it is easiest to achieve whilst they are still young. The same principles apply for older dogs but it may just take a little longer.

One important aspect of any training is that you’ll need everyone who takes the dog for walks to agree to do the same thing. If one person follows the rules and another allows the dog to pull, your dog will get confused and the process will take a very long time, or the dog may never learn how to walk nicely.

To start, try and pick a time when your dog is calm for training, use a collar and lead (preferably not a retractable lead). Have one hand holding the end of the lead and the other hand on the same side as your dog holding the lead only a small distance from your dog so they can’t pull too far forwards.

Start walking, as soon as your dog pulls, stop walking. Get your dog to come back level and beside you facing forwards and then start walking again. As soon as your dog pulls, stop walking. Repeat this process.

You may start training in the garden or just down your driveway with as few distractions as possible. You probably wouldn’t get very far to start with but it will improve with time.

Reward them with treats and praise when they achieve a few or several steps without pulling. Set them up to succeed!

You will have to do this over and over and over again. Your dog will soon learn that he or she will not get anywhere if they pull on the lead and that is no fun. They also learn that if he or she walks nicely and the lead is loose they get to go on fun walks.

Some people like myself teach dogs to heel and walk alongside you on command. Most obedience classes will teach this and the principles are the same, you just have to incorporate the word ‘heel’ whilst they are walking nicely and reward them as above.

There are lots of methods on teaching your dog to walk nicely on a loose lead. This is one of them and please remember you should NOT need to use force or fear for any training at all. Training with rewards works better and you are likely to have a happy good canine citizen for life.


Yolande Howell BVSc(HONS), Selwyn Veterinary Centre

Selwyn Veterinary Centre

We're your local vet! We are conveniently located in Rolleston on Jones road - we are close to Main South road with easy access from all directions and we have ample parking. We are not part of a chain or corporate - we are an independent and family-owned business.