How to leash train a dog that pulls

We recently adopted a new member of our family. Rex is a 7 year old Manchester Terrier mix (we think). When we first met him, he was jumping up and down crazily, excited to be out of his cage at the shelter for a second.

It was no surprise that when we brought him home, he couldn’t contain himself on the leash. It was immediately pulling, him trying to drag me to where he wanted to go. This was not enjoyable for me at all and had me dreading walks! I had to figure out how to get my dog to stop pulling on the leash.

Luckily I had the foresight to hire a dog trainer from PocketPuppySchool. I’m happy to say that today, Rex does a lot less pulling. He is still learning but I’m confident in no time that we will have a calm dog walking to the dog park!

Here is how I took Rex from non stop pulling to being the good dog I knew was inside.

Table of Contents

Make sure your dog gets enough exercise

If you aren’t regularly exercising your dog, they are going to be more prone to pull. Period. Exercise is not only something that humans need! And a simple walk is not enough.

Our Rex has tons of energy. We could see that when we first met him. So expecting him to get what he needs from a few walks a day was obviously not going to happen. So now, my husband takes Rex running with him 3x a week.

I’ll add another article soon on how to exercise a dog, but for this article, if you are going to take your dog running, make sure you have the right leash. It should be a harness that does not go across the shoulders.

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Running has made a huge difference! He isn’t dying to run around anymore. However, this alone did not solve our pulling dilemma. Not even close, actually. Exercise along will not help.

Supplies needed to get your dog to stop pulling on a leash

The right leash: A slip lead dog leash

When we first hired the dog trainer, he recommended no collar and a harness. You don’t want to pull on your dogs neck, which is very true! A collar is just neck stress. However, when you are training your dog to not pull, a harness will not help. The dog pulls, you pull back. It just causes the dog to want to pull more and you have very little control!

With a slip lead dog leash, you actually lead the dog. The leash should be high up on the dogs neck, near the dogs ears. This is the most comfortable.

Then it takes very little energy to redirect the dog. You don’t pull back, but guide the dog to the side. This stops the dog from pulling and gives you more control as you train your dog!


Probably obvious but I wasn’t taking treats on a walk when I first started. Now I do. You want to reward your furry friend when they are being good, and that also means when they are not pulling on the leash. Now, our dog is a foodie. If yours isn’t, the “good dog” may be good enough for training.

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Now let’s dive into the two methods for getting your dog to stop pulling while on a leash

How to stop your dog pulling while walking

Method 1: Stop walking

This one is pretty simple. They pull. You don’t move. They give you some slack, you walk. You will be surprised how quickly your furry friend realizes they will actually get to places much faster if they don’t pull on the leash.

The key to method one is consistency. If you aren’t consistent, then your dog won’t be either. So make sure that you are extremely consistent (unless in case of danger like stopping in the middle of the street).

However, this method can become really boring really fast. Sometimes I feel like I’m waiting forever for Rex to back up a bit. Which is why I involve also a bit of method 2 of my walks.

Method 2: The start stop change direction

With this method, instead of stopping when the dog pulls, you stop, and you turn around. And you will watch your dog think “Woah! I wanted to go here, and now I’m going away? No fun!

I actually use a bit of both methods when I walk Rex. This is the best for both me and him. I have a limited of time to walk him. I want to get to the dog park (and so does he!) so he has enough time to run around and let some energy out.

So when he lightly pulls me, I stop. When he pulls heavily, I stop, and turn around for 5 steps. Once I see he is good, we turn back around and go where we need to go.

To learn more tips about leash training your dog, I highly recommend you check out this video from PocketPuppySchool:

What is the fastest way to leash train a dog?

Be Consistent

Consistency is the backbone of successful leash training. Dogs thrive on routines and predictable behavior. When Rex realized that the rules remained steady, his understanding of what was expected from him grew clearer by the day. This was obvious with Rex. As soon as I started to slack off on the rules, so did he! Maintaining a steady approach helped Rex comprehend what was acceptable during our walks.

Choose the Right Tools

The right tools are essential for effective leash training. As mentioned above, with a harness, Rex’s pulling quickly became a game of tug-of-war. Make sure you have a lead leash which allows you to guide your dog’s direction without the strain on their neck.

Reward Good Behavior

Positive reinforcement is a cornerstone of successful training. Just like us, dogs thrive on praise and rewards. Initially, I underestimated the power of treats during our walks. But, I quickly learned that offering a treat when Rex walked without pulling encouraged him to repeat the behavior. A pocketful of his favorite treats transformed our walks into opportunities for learning and bonding. For dogs that aren’t particularly food-driven, verbal affirmations can work equally well.

Maintain a Calm Demeanor

It’s easy to become frustrated when our four-legged friends don’t immediately grasp what we’re trying to teach them. However, maintaining a calm and composed demeanor is crucial. Dogs can sense our emotions, and tension on the leash may inadvertently communicate stress or frustration. Remaining patient and composed during walks helped Rex understand that these outings were meant for exploration and relaxation, not a contest of wills.

How long does it take to leash train a dog?

Well, that is up to you and your dog. The more consistent you are, the calmer you are, when you consistently reward your dog for good behavior, the faster your dog will train.

I hope this article has helped you realize there is tons of things you can do in order to train your dog to not pull on the leash. Comments? Questions? Leave them below!

2 thoughts on “How to leash train a dog that pulls”

  1. Fantastic stuff – theory is all good but practical approach is the most useful. I’ll check out the dog trainer, too!

    I teach dogs few commands like “stay”, “stop”, “go”, “cross” and “slow” to reduce pulling and are generally useful in the city environment – running into other dogs or cats, or onto the street with vehicles are no-ones favourites..

    • Great tips and good to mention! I definitely use those, without evening thinking sometimes. Especially “cross” I find useful in the city 🙂


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