How to train your dog to not pull on the leash

In Emotional Support Animal by Emotional Pet Support Team

In a perfect world, your dog instantly knows how to walk properly on a leash on the first try. However, the reality is that leash walking is a skill that requires some dog training.

If you’re wondering how to train your dog to walk on a leash without pulling on it, you’ve come to the right place! This article will teach you how to get your dog to walk on a leash politely and happily by your side. 

Why your dog pulls on the leash

There are various reasons why your dog exhibits this behavior.

  • Its pace is naturally faster. One of the most common reasons is that they have a naturally faster walking pace than you. Most of the time, it feels unnatural to them to walk at your relaxed pace. So when they want to walk at their normal pace, they tend to pull on the leash and take the lead.
  • It is excited. When your dog gets too excited or has too much extra energy, it may not know how to deal with these. So when you take it out for a walk on a leash, it tends to burn some of this excess energy by trying to run or playing a little tug of war with you with its leash.
  • It is reacting to something in the environment. When your dog is not familiar with the environment, or there’s something new in the environment, it will tend to pull on the leash to explore it. This could also be in the form of another dog passing by or a stranger on a bike. Many things can prompt reactivity, which can be shown through behaviors such as leash pulling.
  • It is afraid or anxious. Another possible reason why your dog is pulling on the leash is it is afraid or anxious about something in the environment or the whole environment, especially if it’s entirely new to it. If this is the case, it’s pulling the leash to try and find a safe space to hide from.

Leash training tips and tricks

Here are some tips to train your dog to walk on a leash:

  • Introduce the leash and collar or harness. Before you even start taking your dog out for a walk, make it familiar with the leash and collar by allowing it to wear them for short periods of time. Make sure to do this indoors and while doing something fun such as playing or giving your dog some treats. This will help your dog associate wearing them with something positive.
  • Teach your dog a cue. You can use a clicker, while some people use a positive word such as “yes” as a cue. Have your dog wear the collar and leash, say the cue, and then reward it with a tasty treat when it turns toward you or gives you its attention.
  • Make your dog move toward you. When your dog is coming to you while wearing the collar and leash, back up a little and give the reward only when it successfully gets to you. Repeat this process until your dog learns to do it without fail. Just keep in mind that dogs have a short attention span, so it’s still recommended to keep your sessions short and always end on a positive note. Don’t wait until your dog is overly exhausted or bored.
  • Train indoors, at least at the start. As much as possible, start the training in an environment with little to no distractions, preferably indoors. Dogs can get curious, and easily distracted, preventing them from absorbing what you’re teaching them.
  • Don’t rush into taking it outside. Trust the process, and don’t rush trying to take it out to practice outdoors. Only take it out when you’re confident that it will come towards you despite the distractions. Keep the walks short at first and observe its behavior. When you notice that it’s about to get distracted or is starting to pull on the leash, say the cue and move a couple of steps back. If it follows, reward it with a treat. (Pro Tip: It’s best to take some treats with you so you can reinforce your dog’s proper leash walking behavior. Later on, you can reduce the treats you give it.) This will eventually lead to having good hikes with your dog.
  • Stand still if it pulls on the leash. When your dog is pulling on the leash, stand still and don’t move until it comes toward you. Don’t let your dog drag you along or yank on the leash. Stay alert and try to redirect its attention with a treat the moment you notice it’s about to lunge onto something. You might also want to use a front-hook harness or head halters if your dog tends to pull.

Final Thoughts

Leash training is one of the most challenging skills to teach your dog. You can’t blame it if it wants to explore the world by its own means and pace.

While leash training can be fun and a good way to strengthen your bond with your dog, it can also be frustrating and time-consuming. So if you feel that you’re not making any progress or are not satisfied with how fast your dog is learning, the best course of action is to hire a professional dog trainer. 

Delaware K9 Academy is one of the most reliable dog training providers. They can provide private lessons, puppy training, and 2-week bootcamps that don’t only cover leash training, but a whole lot more! Get in touch with Delaware K9 Academy to learn more about how they can help you.