Note: Pet Educate is reader supported. If you make a purchase through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission - at no extra cost to you. This includes links to Amazon.

German Shepherd Pulling On Leash [Why & What To Do]

As a proud owner of several dogs throughout my life, I’ve experienced my fair share of leash pulling. 

One breed that’s notorious for this behavior is the German Shepherd.

You know what I’m talking about: you’re out on a lovely walk, enjoying the fresh air, when suddenly, your dog starts pulling on the leash like never before.

But don’t worry, I’m here to help.

Today, I’d like to share with you my experiences with leash pulling, some insights I’ve gathered from dog behaviouralists over the years, and most importantly, some tips and suggestions to stop them.

Why Do German Shepherds Pull On The Leash?

German Shepherds pull on the leash due to their herding nature, out of excitement, and often as a result of insufficient training/socialization.

German Shepherds are intelligent, energetic, and strong.

These qualities make them excellent working dogs, but they can also be the cause of leash pulling. 

Natural Instinct

German Shepherds were initially bred for herding sheep.

This instinct can still be present in modern German Shepherds, causing them to be more likely to pull on the leash.

They might try to lead you as if they were herding their flock, or they might be trying to get to something they perceive as a threat or a distraction.

Out Of Excitement

Like any dog, German Shepherds get excited.

When they’re out on a walk, their senses are stimulated by new sights, sounds, and smells.

This excitement can cause them to pull on the leash, trying to explore or chase after something interesting.

Lack of Socialization

Insufficient socialization during a dog’s early life can contribute to leash pulling behavior.

A poorly socialized German Shepherd may feel overwhelmed or unsure of how to react when encountering unfamiliar people, animals, or situations during walks.

This uncertainty can lead to leash pulling, as they may either try to investigate the new stimulus or attempt to retreat from it.

Lack of Training

German Shepherds need consistent training from a young age to learn appropriate leash behavior.

If your dog hasn’t received adequate training, they might not know that pulling on the leash is undesirable.

Dominance Issues

Some German Shepherds may try to assert their dominance by pulling on the leash.

This behavior can stem from a lack of clear leadership in the household or an attempt to challenge their owner’s authority.

Establishing yourself as the pack leader through consistent training and setting boundaries will help mitigate this issue.

Out of Anxiety or Fear

German Shepherds may pull on the leash when they feel anxious or frightened by something in their environment.

They might be trying to escape from the source of their fear or seek reassurance from their owner.

Identifying and addressing the root cause of your dog’s anxiety or fear can help alleviate leash pulling in these situations.


When German Shepherds become overstimulated, they may respond by pulling on the leash.

This can happen in crowded, noisy, or otherwise chaotic environments where there are many distractions.

If you suspect that overstimulation is causing your dog to pull on the leash, try to find quieter, less busy places for your walks or gradually expose them to more stimulating environments to build their tolerance.

Medical Issues

In some cases, leash pulling may be a symptom of an underlying medical issue, such as pain or discomfort. If your German Shepherd suddenly starts pulling on the leash when they didn’t before, it’s worth consulting with your veterinarian to rule out any health concerns.

Addressing any medical issues can help reduce or eliminate leash pulling behavior in these cases.

How Do I Stop My German Shepherd From Pulling On The LEash

Now that we understand why German Shepherds pull on the leash, let’s discuss some techniques to help you stop this behavior:


Training is crucial in addressing leash pulling. Start by teaching your German Shepherd to heel, which means walking by your side with a loose leash.

Use positive reinforcement and rewards (like treats or praise) to encourage this behavior.

Be patient and consistent with your training, as it might take some time for your dog to understand what you expect from them.

Use the Right Equipment

Using the right equipment can make a huge difference when it comes to leash pulling.

A front-clip harness or a head collar can help redirect your German Shepherd’s pulling force, making it easier to control them during walks.

Also be sure to use the appropriate leash. This is the one I would recommend for the breed.

Learn more: Best Leash For German Shepherd That Pulls

Redirect Their Attention

When your German Shepherd starts to pull, try redirecting their attention back to you.

You can use a treat or a toy to catch their eye, and then reward them when they pay attention to you and stop pulling.

Get Them Checked Out By A Vet

If you suspect there is a medical reason behind the behavior, consult with a vet.

You may find with treatment, this is something that manages to clear up on its own acccord.

How Long Does It Takes To Train A German Shepherd To Stop Pulling On the Leash?

It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to train a German Shepherd to stop pulling on the leash.

That being said, the amount of time it takes to train your German Shepherd to stop pulling on the leash will vary depending on factors such as their age, temperament, and previous training experience. 

However, with consistent training and patience, you should start seeing improvements. 

Keep in mind that every dog is different, and it might take longer for some than others.

Other Tips and Suggestions To Prevent Leash Pulling In Your German Shepherd

Here are some additional tips and suggestions to help you and your German Shepherd enjoy stress-free walks:

Provide Sufficient Exercise

German Shepherds are an energetic breed and require regular exercise to burn off energy.

Make sure your dog gets enough physical activity before your walks.

A well-exercised dog will be less likely to pull on the leash due to pent-up energy.

Ensure They Receive Enough Mental Stimulation

Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise for German Shepherds.

Keep their mind engaged with interactive toys, puzzle games, and obedience training sessions.

A mentally stimulated dog is less likely to be distracted and pull on the leash during walks.

Ensure They Are Well Socialized

Expose your German Shepherd to various environments, people, and other animals from a young age.

Socialization helps your dog become more comfortable and confident in different situations, reducing the likelihood of leash pulling due to fear or anxiety.

Stay Calm and Be Patient

Remember that dogs can pick up on our emotions. If you’re frustrated or stressed during walks, your German Shepherd might sense it and become more anxious or excited, leading to leash pulling.

Stay calm and patient, and remember that training takes time and consistency.

Consider Professional Support

If you’re struggling to train your German Shepherd on your own or have concerns about their leash pulling behavior, consider seeking help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.

They can provide personalized guidance and support to help you and your dog overcome leash pulling.


Dealing with a German Shepherd pulling on the leash can be challenging, but with consistent training, patience, and the right equipment, it’s a problem that can be solved. 

Remember that every dog is different, and what works for one German Shepherd might not work for another.

Be open to trying various techniques and seeking professional help if necessary. 

Soon enough, you should find that you and your German Shepherd enjoy leisurely, stress-free walks together.