How to stop your dog pulling on the lead

When your dog constantly pulls on the lead it can turn a leisurely walk into a battle of wills. If you feel like your walks are suffering, we’ve got some good news – these training tips are right by your side. Armed with these and a little love and patience you can show your dog that walking on a lead can be a fun and positive experience for both of you.

Why do dogs pull on the lead?

You’re outside and with that comes all the sights and smells your dog can’t wait to investigate. Pulling to get at them is usually a sign of excitement and the sign of a happy, curious dog. But when it can strain their neck, hurt you, and lead to tricky moments with other dogs – pulling is no fun at all. 

Related blog: When does my dog have to be on a lead?

Will pulling on the lead hurt my dog?

Seeing your dog’s collar pull on their neck can be upsetting, especially if it makes them cough. But don’t be afraid to stand your ground when your dog starts straining on their lead. Avoid any sharp tugging as the jolt can hurt or scare them.

dog training

How can I train my dog out of pulling on the lead?

As with any training, positivity is the secret to success. Reinforce good behaviours by rewarding your dog when they stay close, and ignoring their pulls. Here are our leading commandments (training tips to you and I!):


‘Heel’ is a great command to introduce when you’re getting a puppy used to their first lead. Don’t worry if your dog is already past puppyhood – it’s never too late to teach them good habits. Use ‘heel’ to call your dog back to your side any time they try to run off.

  • When your dog tries to run off, say ‘heel’ in a clear, calm voice to get their attention.
  • Wait until they look back at you – this will make the lead go slack.
  • At that moment, reward them with a treat.
  • Repeat until you can use the ‘heel’ command to keep the lead slack and your dog’s attention focused on you.

Find more dog training tips in our basic commands blog.


Stopping a walk everytime your dog pulls is a great way to teach them that walks are less fun when they try to do their own thing. Be prepared to get a few funny looks in the park when you only move a few paces in the time it takes everyone else to do a full lap – but trust us, your patience and persistence will pay off. Here’s how to master the ‘stop’ command:

  • When your dog pulls on the lead, say ‘stop’ in a loud but calm voice.
  • Stand still until your dog stops pulling and the lead goes slack.
  • Repeat!

Stop & turn

Dogs usually pull because they’ve seen or smelt something exciting. The ‘stop and turn’ technique teaches your dog that pulling isn’t an effective way to get where they want to go. It also gets their attention firmly back on you. Use ‘stop and turn’ like this:

  • When your dog pulls, say ‘stop’ in a loud, clear, calm voice.
  • Immediately change direction or turn in a tight circle.
  • Reward your dog when they follow you.
  • Repeat!

What type of lead is best?

We’ve talked about training tips, but when it comes to the thing itself, what type of lead is best for your dog. When the amount of different leads, collars and harnesses in shops can be downright bamboozling, here’s what you should know. 

The right option depends on your dog’s age, training and health

Fixed leads

The lead’s fixed length gives you more control, helps your dog learn their limits, and keeps them safe. A great option, in our opinion.

Extendable leads

Not for newbies – if you’ve already got a lead-trained dog they give them the sense of freedom they crave – and keep you in control. Not a great idea for puppies either, as the extra freedom will make training tricky.

Related blog: Leads for dogs

Nose band collars

An extra fitting around your dog’s nose means their head is gently pulled down any time your dog tugs the lead. This distracts them from whatever caught their eye (or nose). 

Top tip: Double-check the brand you’re looking at has been approved by dog behaviourists – that way you know it’s completely dog-friendly.

Related blog: The different types and purposes of collars for dogs


Some dogs have neck issues and can’t wear a collar, but if you’re going down the dog harness route it’s best to wait until you’ve completed their lead training before switching to it. A harness lets your dog pull with their whole body weight, so makes it harder to stand your ground when they want to go their own way.

No-pull dog harness

Some harnesses are specially designed with different attachment points to provide pressure or redirect your dog’s energy when they start pulling.

When it’s not just pulling

If your dog is pulling and lunging or pulling and barking – take notice. They could be telling you they’re scared of something nearby and are agitated because they can’t get away. Can you see what’s causing their fear? If you can ignore your dog’s fearful behaviour you can start to turn the situation into a positive experience – then reward them with praise or treats when they stay calm.

26 thoughts on “How to stop your dog pulling on the lead”

  1. A good harness is essential and can be a much preference alternative to a collar, particularly for active or younger dogs that tend to pull more. My dog learned pretty quickly to sit down and raise a paw as soon as the harness comes out.

  2. We have a double ended lead that attaches to collar and harness for our deerhound. We need really good control as he is so big and strong and can give me spine and shoulder injuries when lunging forward. I found the lead training info really helpful, thank you.

    • Oh yes. Mine is a Border Collie cross with a Springer and nothing I have tried to do in the past 10 years has worked. x

    • Agreed! Have you figured out what helps? I’ve tried everything to the point I’m now back to basics and home training to get him to stop pulling. Nothings working.

  3. Fab I’m glad I’m doing something right. I’ve tried a few of these walking techniques already and I’m Co ti using to do so. I have a very strong willed Collie walking is a isuue. Trick is not to give up I’m sure I’ll get there in the end. 🙂

  4. Unfortunately my dog find a way of being able to escape the harness,.. I also don’t want to have the colour too tight to make it uncomfortable so it is very difficult!

    • You can get a collar that has restrictive tightness by that it is adjustable and had two rings so when the collar closes it can only close so far , then the other ring stops it getting to tight, and therefore not strangling your dog

  5. I have a young border collie bitch, she’s 16 months old now, but might as well be 3months old and going out on a lead for first time. She pulls, she’s excitable and pulls in every which way possible, she turns , grabs lead in her mouth and pulls backwards too. I recently got her an anti-pull harness, hasn’t made slightest difference. Every 2 seconds she can be told to heel, very occasionally she will, briefly. I am at my wit’s end. I have started to dread walking her, she gets less walks because of this, so I feel guilty.. it goes on, and on. How can I break this cycle?

    • Try a Halti it is a head collar the only thing that I can use on my Labrador. It annoys the dog at first but you have control and they get used to it.

    • Hi i have a white German shepherd who has just turned one and he is the same.. sometimes i feel i can’t handle him as if he see a cat or pass anouther dog he pulls so hard it hurts….its very upsetting

    • A Dogmatic lead works a treat with our
      Border collie- used mostly if we are in a town situation where close controlled walking is necessary. Try one- it’s rwally good.

  6. We have a sprocker spaniel, and all he ever does is sleep, eat, pull and run.
    Tried training school, tried treats, tried everything. He even relaxes from pulling to get a treat, eats it and then starts pulling again.

  7. We used the techniques mentioned above and our first dog was a dream (springer x standard poodle) and worked with a great gun dog trainer who advised a slip knot lead which teaches the dog very quickly if they pull it applies slight pressure and as they walk in a calm relaxed way it naturally loosens (a far more humane version of the old choke leads from when I was little). However our second girl (springer x miniature poodle) who is a half sister to our first girl is still pulling but is slowly calming down but at 11 months I suppose I can’t expect miracles.

  8. This would really help me. Thank you for this as I am training my dog. Do you also have information on dog barking and dog biting?

  9. Hi I have border collier (blue merle) bread, she’s only 6 months and is massive, she pulls in her lead and jumps forward at the same time.

  10. I have two border collie pups, 5 months and 6 months. Both are very good off the lead, coming back to call and friendly to other dogs. However, they are both terrible on the lead especially on the road we walk along to get to the footpath – there is a walk then until we get to the field where they can get off lead. They still pull on this bit of the walk but not quite as much. I can’t walk both of them on my own as it takes all my strength to hold on to them and I feel that they will pull me over. I’ve tried stopping but the girl in particular (angelic and affectionate at home) is so focussed she won’t turn to look at me and strains and whines. All this starts as soon as the front door opens. Any suggestions gratefully received – I long to be able to walk them together on my own.

    • I have a Mountain Cur mix. Very strong. My husband and I have different ideas. I finally told my husband he had to start doing at least a couple of my suggestions. I have a bad knee so I can’t have him pull me I will fall. So I insisted he make him sit at the door before it’s opened and wait to go out till told to heal. Then stop and wait at the steps to the sidewalk. If he can’t do it he will knock me down. Baby steps work on only 1 or 2 things a week. Added to whatever you have already taught him. I’ve had dogs for forty years I always did the training. This one has to be my husband. Good luck

  11. I have a rescue 1 year old lab and he is a nightmare on the lead that much so I don’t take him out the husband has to!! He don’t listen with treats I have two female ones and there as good as gold and I can walk them off the lead but I’ve taken him out on his own to try the training techniques that I used for the others but he just don’t get any of it had him 6 months now and it’s hard

  12. I have a cocker spaniel who pulls like a steam train the whole time. There is not a moment when you can praise her. We have tried all techniques and have had 4 dog trainers all to no avail. She has now hurt my back and shoulder, I can barely walk her. She is such a super dog otherwise. We have tried all leads/harnesses and the figure 8 is the best but we then lose all recall when she wears it so it is not a solution. I am at my wits end as my health is suffering – don’t know where to turn. Any help appreciated.

    • Best thing I have found is a Petsafe Easy Walk harness. Worked on our Cavapoo and also for my sons Cocker who was a nightmare


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