It’s frustrating and a little painful, isn’t it? A dog that pulls on the leash.
My dog Bailey, a 6-year-old Cockapoo, used to pull on the leash like nobody’s business.
I’d find myself getting dragged along, struggling to regain control. Despite her relatively small size, he possesses great strength. And it was something I knew I had to try and stop.
But of course, it made sense to find out why she pulled on the leash, to begin with.
I conducted a lot of research and would love to share my findings with you today.
I’ll be sharing my insights on why dogs may pull on the leash while walking, discuss whether it’s possible to stop a dog from doing so (and if so, how long it typically takes), and present to you some useful tips and suggestions along the way.
Why Does My Dog Pull on the Leash During a Walk?
Dogs typically pull on the leash for one of three different reasons; excitement, a lack of training/socialization, or a simple pace mismatch. Though prey drive, fear/anxiety or physical discomfort can be causes too.
Dogs are curious creatures, and going for a walk is like embarking on an adventure for them.
They pull on the leash because they’re excited to explore and can’t wait to sniff out the next interesting thing.
Your dog may simply walk faster than you do.
As a result, they pull on the leash to try to match their preferred pace.
Lack of Training
If you haven’t taught your dog to walk nicely on a leash, they may not know what you expect of them.
They pull because they haven’t been trained to do otherwise.
Some dogs have a strong prey drive, which means they’re instinctively drawn to chase after small animals like squirrels or birds.
When they spot one of these creatures, they may pull on the leash to try and catch it.
Fear or Anxiety
Dogs who are fearful or anxious may pull on the leash as a way to escape from the source of their discomfort.
This could be due to loud noises, unfamiliar environments, or encounters with other dogs or people.
To Get To Other People/Dogs
If your dog hasn’t been properly socialized, they may be overly excited or reactive when they encounter new dogs or people on walks.
This can cause them to pull on the leash, either out of eagerness to meet the new acquaintance or as a reaction to feeling overwhelmed.
If your dog is experiencing physical discomfort, such as pain from an injury or discomfort from an ill-fitting collar or harness, they may pull on the leash to alleviate that discomfort.
In this case, addressing the underlying issue and ensuring your dog is comfortable during walks will be crucial to resolving the problem.
In Bailey’s case, a combination of excitement and lack of training caused her to pull on the leash.
She was a bundle of energy, and I had never taken the time to train her properly.
Can You Stop A Dog Pulling On The Leash?
You can train a dog to stop pulling on a leash with consistent training, time, and patience.
In fact, there are several training techniques you can use, such as:
- The “Red Light, Green Light” method: When your dog pulls, stop walking (red light). Start walking again when they stop pulling and give you some slack (green light). This teaches your dog that pulling on the leash gets them nowhere.
- The “U-turn” technique: When your dog starts to pull, make a U-turn and walk in the opposite direction. This redirects their focus back to you and helps them understand that pulling won’t get them where they want to go.
- Positive reinforcement: Reward your dog with treats, praise, or petting when they’re walking nicely on a leash without pulling. This helps them associate good leash manners with positive outcomes.
I used a combination of these techniques with Bailey, which made a significant difference in her leash behavior.
How Long Does Getting a Dog to Stop Pulling on the Leash Take?
It can take anywhere from a few days and weeks to several months to stop a dog from pulling on the leash.
In other words, the amount of time it takes depends on several factors, such as the dog’s age, temperament, and previous training.
In Bailey’s case, it took about two months of daily practice and patience before she stopped pulling on the leash.
I found that consistency and persistence were key to our success.
Tips To Stop A Dog Pulling On The Leash
Here are some helpful tips that I found useful when working with Bailey:
Use The Right Equipment
A no-pull harness, head halter, martingale collar, or a proper leash can help provide better control and minimize pulling.
Experiment with different options to find what works best for your dog.
Learn more: Best Leash For Training Dogs Not To Pull
Stick to the same training techniques and use the same verbal cues each time you go for a walk.
This consistency will help your dog understand what you expect from them.
Start With Short, Focused Training Sessions
Begin with 5 to 10-minute training sessions in a low-distraction environment like your backyard.
As your dog improves, gradually increase the length of your walks and introduce more distractions.
Reward Your Dog For Good Behaviour
Positive reinforcement is crucial for successful training.
Use treats, praise, or petting to reward your dog when they walk nicely on the leash without pulling.
It’s important to remember that training takes time, and progress may be slow.
Don’t get frustrated with your dog or yourself.
Keep practicing and celebrating small victories along the way.
Seek Professional Help (If Required)
If you’re struggling to get your dog to stop pulling on the leash, don’t hesitate to consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.
They can provide personalized guidance and support to help you and your dog achieve success.
A dog often pulls on the leash out of excitement, a pace mismatch, or a lack of socialization/training.
That being said, there can be other underlying factors too to watch out for, even medical ones.
By using effective training techniques, such as the “Red Light, Green Light” method, the “U-turn” technique, and positive reinforcement, thankfully, you can teach your dog to walk nicely on a leash without pulling.
Be prepared to invest time and effort into training, and don’t forget to be patient and consistent and reward your dog’s progress along the way.
With dedication and persistence, you will get there and enjoy pleasant, pull-free walks together, just like Bailey and I do now.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.