3 Simple Tips For Teaching Your Dog NOT To Pull On The Leash

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 leash etiquette, leash reactivity, Leash Training

So many dogs these days do not have any leash manners. They pull while on the leash, choking themselves, making the walk miserable!

But, there are a few simple tips you can use to teach your dog to NOT pull on the leash so you both will be able to enjoy the walks.

Here Are My Top 3 Tips to Teach Your Dog to NOT Pull on the Leash:

1. Teach Your Dog How Long His Leash Is!

First off, this means DON’T USE RETRACTABLE LEASHES!! Retractable leashes are unfair because the dog doesn’t know if the leash is 3 ft, 10 ft, or 25 ft.

A dog needs to know how long his leash is to learn not to pull.

So, find a leash that is about 6 ft and stick with it for training.

I often “let my dogs be dogs” by allowing them to have the length of the leash to wander while we are walking. However, my #1 rule is that you don’t pull me, EVER!!!!

And, to achieve this, I must teach my dogs how far they can go on their leash before they pull (about 5 feet).

So, I put them on a leash, and if they are not paying attention to me, I change my direction.

Yes, the dog hits the end of the leash.

But, in my opinion, the dog is “correcting” himself, and I am teaching him how much room he has on his leash before this happens.

This also teaches the dog to pay attention to me.

Yes, you can sniff and wander and have a good time and still have an idea of where I am and what I am doing.

Whenever my dog appears not to be paying attention, I change my direction and make a 180-degree turn.

This helps the dog learn how long his leash is, and teaches him to pay attention to me.

2. Reward Attention

Very few people ever recognize when their dog looks at them.

Even fewer people reward it!

 leash etiquette, leash reactivity, Leash TrainingThis is one of the biggest mistakes people make!

Your dog should be praised for looking at you, and paying attention to you.

Paying attention to me is NEVER wrong!

I want my dog staring up at me or looking back at me; always checking in with me.

If your dog is paying attention to you, he probably isn’t pulling on the leash.

When I teach puppy classes, 100% of those puppies will look up at their owner, on their own (even when they haven’t been taught eye contact).

It is a given.

It is something I wait for during class, so I can point it out and have them reward it.

However, if you don’t recognize it and reward it, the behavior will disappear and turn into pulling and paying attention to everything else.

3. Stimulate His Mind

Dogs often pull because they are bored!

He doesn’t have really anything else to do, or anything else to think about, so he pulls you from one thing to another.

Give him something else to do! Stimulate his mind!!

I rarely walk with a total purpose of getting somewhere fast.

When I am walking with my dog, I am walking AND training.

I change my direction.

I change my pace.

I have my dog sit.

I have my dog “down.”

I ask him to find heel.

I bring his tug and play with him when he does something right.

I ask for eye contact.

I ask my dog to do push-ups (sit and down in succession).

I make circles to the right and circles to the left.

I want my dog’s mind stimulated.

I want my dog to pay attention to me.

And, I recognize that just walking at a slow pace is not stimulating for my dog, and, without me providing him with stimulation, he is more likely to pull!

Follow these three tips, and your walks will significantly improve!

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There are 35 Comments

  1. Wendy Stevens says:

    Thank you I will certainly do this from now🐶


  2. Susan says:

    I am going to try this! I have a 10 mos American Bully pup and she loves pulling!! Needless to say I hate it. Looking forward to trying it as it warms up! Thank you!!


  3. Susan says:

    Those are really great ideas, I do a few of them already and plan to add the rest in. Thank you! One question – I have 2 GSD’s, they tend to want to flank me when we walk and I keep their leash in my left hand so my right hand is still free, but do I need to train them to both walk on the left or is flanking ok?


    Minette Reply:


    I like my dogs on one side so my other side is free


  4. Sarah says:

    I’ve got a working line 12 month old German shepherd that pulls on her flat collar. Hoping to do ipo with her.
    Might start training her on walks.


  5. Kelly Padilla says:

    I have 2 different leases. One when my service dog is “On”, which is shorter. Abd a longer leash for when he is off. I was told that this was a good thing to do, but now he’s starting to pull both leashes. How can I correct this?


  6. Marie says:

    Minette hello
    My name is Marie, I am trying to teach my dog to not pull he is now 10 Pomeranian chihuahua mixed! I will try again, but he refuses to turn around when I say come he pulls even harder, any ideas?


  7. Barbara Houston says:

    I have a 3.5 year old yellow lab. She has pulled from the moment I got her at 3 months old. She gets so excited outside it’s impossible to get her to pay attention to me. I have tried everything in the way of harnesses, collars, head collars, etc. I have tried circling back, doing figure 8’s. She figures out what we are doing and goes right back to excitement. How can I calm her down?


  8. Greta says:

    I found having a short leash best as the further the dog is away from you the less control especially with large dogs. When they start to put pressure on the leash i make them circle behind me while I continue walking, it puts them automatically in the healing posi and then give them a treat, i now enjoy our walks.


  9. Jacqui says:

    Thank you for the tips. I shall use these and see if he improve’s. He’s only 7 months old and he’s doing so well already .


  10. Fran says:

    Thank you


  11. Karen Garofalo says:

    Wow, knowledge is power…and you communicate to clearly! Your rules of walking your dog are awesome! I have a 1-year-old mix and a high energy walker. I use these tricks of the trade you offer and WOW, RESULTS! Thank You! You make learning fun, Chet! For me and my Dog!


  12. Rosalia Gonzalez says:

    Hi my dog max is 16 month old Yorkie hs very cranky he barks all the time he doesn’t like people when they come over the house if I take him outside he goes crazy barking at everyone and I don’t know what to do


  13. Cheryl Jackson says:

    We have a 2-year-old Akita/German Shepherd mix. He has major problems walking on a leash, too.
    You are to be commended for trying all the right things. I have found that occasionally it helps if I do something calming when Teddy starts to pull. I stand still for a few seconds and then take a step towards him and stroke him on his head or run him between his ears.
    It helps some.


    Minette Reply:

    In many ways this is rewarding him for pulling


  14. Barbara Nicholls says:

    My Chihuahua pulls so much I think I might fall at my age of 86. I will try this.


  15. Ana says:

    This is one error most owners make so just sharing, after decades of rescuing and training at home what works is doing it a lot in a day your traininig tips. So ever day at least 5x a day have your dog do there tricks, commands or whatever you like to call them, make it fun and rewarding, when done do your walk. I found it is a good cue to your dog what you like, reinforces, and the dog associates that the walk is like working. Keep the 5x a day routines short but do it regularly. The idea is that it takes a long time especially with puppies to learn and leash walking is the hardest. I have an Aussie/border collie, and she was fine until age 12 months, her teen-brain set in so we are starting again, but with the 5x a day routine and right before we walk we do a fast paced drill she likes and then we take our walk. So far the brain is going where I want, but it takes time, some dogs/breeds just take longer. the first 2 years are forming years, by year 3 you can do real specialized traininig. It is what we use for service dogs and guide dogs so it has a proved track record. Lots of prayers and wishes for patient, persistent and peaceful progress.


  16. Paulette melick says:

    Thank you for reviewing these ideas. I think I have taken all your classes. I have worked very hard on my lapb/Dobe cross. The change did not come immediately, but over the last year he has made excellent Improvement and now gladly walks the length of the lead and does not pull anymore, thank goodness no more torn shoulders! I started training a new dog (dachshund pom cross) who had pulled for 8 years. I did change out harnesses to a front attachment. But I was amazed at how quickly she learned, I think a huge part of it was because I was rewarding when she looked up at me.


  17. Heather says:

    I have a 3 year old Chow/Terrier. If I turn direction he often won’t move. He insists that he decides what to do. We adopted Dallas at 2. Any suggestions?


  18. Pat says:

    Wow got to try this I have 2 dogs 3 yrs old mixes breed chow / sherpard . They both pull one is ok but the other omg can’t walk him he pulls to much he chokes . He has pukkes me down 3 times , last time bad deal sprained both my hips now , now having serious pain and cant walk at tikme been 4 months. I will try this . Saying for training taking forever though . Thanks so much


  19. Rosemary Ducharme says:

    I have a 2 yr old, rescue. He is getting better on the leash but he lovessss to run (needs to also) and hunt chipmunks, chase turkeys etc.. I have the room and space to let him enjoy that. Sometimes I let him off the leash to chase something he sees in the woods. He comes back sits waits for the leash. BUT how do I let him know, understand the leash needs to be on– and he won’t always be let off to explore.
    I promised his cute little face that he would have the best life ever–. Can I walk, let him off and walk with him understanding?
    Sorry it’s long


    Minette Reply:

    Being off leash prior to leash manners and leash skills is detrimental to your training


  20. Kathy says:

    I have a black lab Great Dane mix dog, we got him at the APL. He was 18 mos old. He now is a good car rider but pulls when walking. We trained our other dogs by having them walk next to us, they did wonderfully. Our dog now is very stubborn. He will pull from the time we open the door. He weighs in the high nineties. He can pull me down the driveway.
    On our next walk I’m going to try this and hopefully we have a better walking experience.
    Thank you


  21. Melissa Norris says:

    This makes so much sense.
    I love your classes and I’m so glad, I’ve purchased them.
    Thank you for your insight.


  22. Lea says:

    You might see if stopping to tell your dog you’re not going anywhere until he stops and looks at you. Calmness is key. They feel our stress, so attempt to relax, breathe, and just wait. Holding a treat may help, too. ☺


  23. Judy Jerrels says:

    I have a 4 year old German Shepard. We rescued her when she was about 2. She walks with a leash just perfectly..does not pull, but still explores..Except when you start heading home. She starts to pull, no matter what length the leash. She stops her exploring and is totally concentrating on getting home. She has excellent sense of direction. We take different routes and she still knows when we are heading towards home. We have done all of your tips, no change to wanting to get home ASAP.


  24. Marjorie says:

    Hello I have heard that a leash that fastens on her back gives better controll. We have a pug boxer mix ooh does she pull we are to old probably but my grandson is 12 and has lost both of his parents he needs her to love. With her strange nose short snout muzzel doesn’t fix she barks jumps scares everybody off they tell me fear is why she carries on. Marjorie


    Minette Reply:

    I prefer collars


  25. Kara O says:

    i think you can’t train a dog to do anything unless you drain the dogs energy. yours has a lot of energy and may need a fast speed walk or run first before she’s ready to learn


  26. Sberzins says:

    Thanks I will try thelse lessons my spaniels always pull on the leash from days at 7 weeks they are so strong . Also I cannot move without being with me on the sofa when I cook I often stand on them. Any advice?


  27. Jay says:

    I have a Newfy and a Berner mix. Should I walk them one on each side or both on one side?? Thank you


    Minette Reply:

    I prefer both on one side so I have an open hand and side in case I have to deal with an off leash dog


  28. Michelle says:

    My 5 year old Yorkie has been taught to turn left or right by my touching with her leash either L or R.

    (sort of like reining a horse.)


  29. Elizabeth says:

    My lab/Great Pyrenees mix is 2 years old and a big boy (174lbs). People are amazed when they see him. My husband & grown son take Grady for his walks and they can barely control him. I’m physically challenged and afraid to even try to walk him. It makes me sad because I feel like I’m missing so much with him. He loves being with me inside and I love on him and feed him. But, I would love to walk with him. What can I do?


    Minette Reply:

    I recommend a gentle leader


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