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  • Writer's picturePurrs & Grrrs Dog Walking

Dog Walking Tips for Leash Pullers

Updated: May 19

Wondering how to help your dog behave well on a leash? “Leash training” is a challenging exercise yet one of the most rewarding pieces of training your pup can learn once they get the hang of it. You’ll have a much more enjoyable time while out on your adventures and your pup will even thank you for it!

Why Dogs Pull on the Leash

If your dog tends to pull on the leash or drag you down the sidewalk during walks, you are not alone! Dogs are natural pullers and feel the need to lead and protect you while out in the big bad world. Here are some common reasons why your dog pulls on the leash:

  • The most common reason is lack of training. Similar to us humans, dogs simply don't know what they don't know. Spending even just a few minutes a day establishing a healthy leash training practice with your dog will work wonders.

  • Certain dog walking equipment, like collars and leashes, can actually contribute to pulling behaviors. For example, many pups enjoy and are even empowered by the feel of a harness on their chest. This brings out a natural desire to pull against it. (Think sled dogs)

  • Certain breeds are natural herders (I’m looking at you Australian Shepherds!) Vigorous and high-energy dogs have a strong tendency to pull on the leash.

  • Some dogs are escape artists with a high wanderlust potential and have a desire for exploring the world. They easily lack self-control and tend to go in the direction their eyes are leading once something gains their attention.

  • Dogs with a strong prey drive have an inborn desire to chase and catch something. They will pull on the leash if they see a passing squirrel or a cat.

  • Your furry one may also pull they are anxious and not used to being outside around loud vehicles, people, and other dogs.

Tips to consider when walking your dog on a leash

Choose the right equipment

Before anything else, having the right equipment is essential. Choosing the right type of leash, collar, or harness plays a significant role in managing the pulling behavior.

We highly recommend against using a retractable leash with your pup, and it's our own internal practice to never use these leashes while out on our dog walks with Purrs & Grrrs clients. Retractable leashes are dangerous for both the dog parent and for the pup, as these leashes do not provide stable support or control over a dog's potentially sudden movements.

A Slip Lead is a great choice and a good place to start in many cases. The slip lead leash is great for all breeds and all sizes of pups. It gives your pooch a gentle yet firm reminder that you’re in charge of the walk and are leading this adventure.

Proactive vs. Reactive

Keep a close eye on your pup and pay attention to what in the environment is causing them to react. When your dog starts to pull, stand still until the leash relaxes. When the leash is adequately relaxed, continue on your walk. Your pup will soon realize what type of behavior is acceptable and which behavior brings an end to the good times. Pay attention to your own reactions as well – if the pup senses tension on your end, then they will react accordingly.

Give your dog enough physical exercise and mental stimulation

Dogs need physical and mental stimulation for burning up all that energy! Make sure you give yourself enough time each day to give you furry pal that daily walk. You may not go very far during the initial walks and that’s okay! Even if you only make it a couple of blocks at first, your pup is still getting lots of mental stimulation during this time and will be pooped afterwards.

Make leash training a positive experience

Dogs learn best by positive reinforcement techniques. Leash yanking and yelling at them will only have negative effects. Make this a positive experience filled with praise. Who doesn’t love an “attaboy”? If the leash training experience is pleasant, your dog will love it. If it is uncomfortable, your furry pal will definitely let you and your sore muscles know!

First Steps

First practice leash training in an area with little distractions (like your backyard or a calm sidewalk). Once your furry pal is comfortable, repeat leash training in different settings like neighborhoods and parks. Keep leash training sessions consistent and develop that routine.

Be patient and consistent

Teaching your dog to behave on a leash takes a lot of patience. You can easily get frustrated and react negatively. If you feel that frustration coming up, it’s okay to take a break and continue at another time. Give the both of you some grace and try again when ready.

Final Thoughts

Remember that you need to be consistent, firm, and patient with your pup but never harsh. You’ll both be much happier for it and love the exploration, exercise, and bonding that comes with your time together.

As always, Purrs & Grrrs is here and more than happy help and partner with you in your furry pup's pet care. We would love to assist you in leash training and take your pups on their adventures when life on your end gets full. Click here to reach out and start a regular dog walking routine for your furry best friend!

Happy Walking!

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