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. The good news is, with some training and patience you can show your dog that walks are much more fun when they stay by your side.

Why do dogs pull on the lead?

Pulling is usually a sign of excitement. Being outside brings an array of sights and smells your dog can’t wait to investigate. In many ways, pulling is a sign of a happy, curious dog. But it can also strain their neck or lead to tricky moments with other dogs. And if you have a large dog, it can hurt you too. Basically, pulling makes walkies less fun, so it’s important to tackle it.

If your dog is lunging or barking while on the lead, they could be telling you they’re scared of something nearby and agitated because they can’t get away. See if you can work out what’s causing their fear and turn the situations into positive experience – ignore your dog’s fearful behaviour and reward them with praise or treats when they stay calm.

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 in most cases it won’t do them any harm so don’t be afraid to stand your ground when your dog starts straining on the lead. Avoid sharply tugging the lead, as a jolt can hurt or scare your dog.

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

Lead skills are an important part of puppy training. 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.


‘Heel’ is a great command to introduce when you’re getting a puppy used to their first lead. But 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.


Halting your walk every time 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. ‘Stop and turn’ works 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!

dog training What type of lead is best?

The range of leads, collars and harnesses in shops can be bamboozling. The right option depends on your dog’s age, training and health. Lead, collar and harness options include:

Fixed leads

The best option for lead training. The lead’s fixed length gives you more control, helps your dog learn their limits, and keeps them safe.

Extendable leads

These give your lead-trained dog the sense of  freedom they crave, while keeping you in control. They’re not a great idea for puppies though, as the extra freedom they offer makes training tricky.

Related blog: Leads for dogs


Having good control over your dog’s head helps you signal where you want them to look. This makes a collar a great option when your dog is young.

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). Before buying this kind of collar, 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


Great for dogs with neck issues who can’t wear a collar. For other dogs, it’s best to wait until you’ve completed their lead training before switching to a dog harness. That’s because 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.

Fuel your puppy’s training

We include ingredients in our puppy food specifically to help with your puppy’s training – like DHA omega-3 to support their mental development. Find out more about our tailored dog food for puppies.


  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.

    1. 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

  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!

    1. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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

    3. 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.

    4. Hi jackie, i’m not the slightest expert on dogs but i do have some knowledge on dogs.. if a no pull harness works i really recommend a choke chain or prong, it doesn’t hurt the dog it just teaches them. I hope all gets better with ur dog.

  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. 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.

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