How to Stop Your Dog Pulling on the Lead

We've all been there with our pooches: sometimes it's tricky to tell who's taking who for a walk. Most dogs at some point will attempt to break free, pulling and straining at the lead and forcing you to trot along at high speeds so they don't get throttled.

It's natural: all dogs want to get to wherever they're going as fast as possible and you're just along for the ride. So instead of just letting them get away with it, follow our guide and you'll soon be enjoying far more leisurely walks with your canine companion.

Who's the boss here?

The first step is to remember that you're in charge. Like most animals, dogs respond well to commanding authority and they are far more likely to stay at heel if they see you as their steady leader. No physical force should ever be needed: consistency and faith in yourself is all you need to break bad habits.

Get the right gear

You need a basic collar and a sturdy lead. Invest in a wide, padded collar if you can so that your dog remains comfortable during their training. Don't be tempted to get an extendable lead - with a firm commitment to training, you won't need it.

Get ready to go

When attaching the collar and lead to your dog, try to stay calm and keep them from getting too excited as this will only make your task harder. Once they're ready to leave, walk out the door first without them, encouraging them to sit and stay until you encourage them to follow.

Make sure you start out with your dog on your left side - and keep them there for the duration of the walk.

Keep them with you

While you walk, keep your pup close to your heel and don't let them get too far in front of you. The minute you feel the gap has grown too much, just stop walking. Give a very light tug on the lead and accompanying this with a click of the tongue (or whatever sound you prefer during training). When you've got your pooch's attention, gently pull them back to your side.

Prepare to repeat this. A lot.

You catch more flies with honey...

Although the pulling back process is a crucial part of the training, it's important to remember the power of positive reinforcement. Whenever your darling dog is doing exactly what they should, heap plenty of praise on their shoulders. Treats never go amiss either, so keep some with you whenever you're out on walks.

Be consistent

If you're aiming to train your dog to stop pulling on the lead, you've got to commit to it over several weeks (sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the breed) and stick to your guns. If your dog senses you've given up or gone off track, they'll certainly exploit it by charging off again.

Every walk should be an opportunity to build on the training and reinforce the new rules. So never give up! You'll have the most obedient little walker in the neighbourhood before you know it.