Why Do Dogs Pull When Walking? (Solved & Explained!)

Dogs pull on their leash because they are excited and naturally move faster than us. They simply want to get to where they’re going, and being on a short leash is not natural for them. Dogs don’t realize that you’re behind them, struggling to keep control.

In the following sections, we will cover why dogs pull when walking, and show you a few strategies to train them to stop.

Why Do Dogs Pull On Their Leash?

According to the American Kennel Club, a dog’s sense of smell is about 10,000 times stronger than humans. Your pup is stimulated by new smells, sights, and sounds, and simply wants to do it all at their own pace.

Dogs also pull because they are rewarded by doing so when we follow them. If you let them pull you around, they get to move forward. Thus, they will continue to pull and see what they want to see unless you teach them otherwise.

How To Prevent A Dog From Pulling

Taking long and frequent walks will expend excess energy and prevent overstimulation, which are huge contributors to pulling. A tired dog will be calmer, easier to walk, and more importantly, easier to train.

During the training process, keep your dog close to your side, not far in front of you. If they start gaining ground, stop walking and have your dog stay by your side before walking again and repeat until you maintain a loose, U-shaped leash.

How Long Does It Take to Leash Train A Dog?

If you are leash training every day, you should see results within the first 6 weeks. The timeline can vary with each pet depending on their energy level, intelligence, temperament, and current habits.

It’s important to have realistic expectations of your pup. They can still get excited and pull regardless of how well-trained they are, so be patient and don’t expect perfection from them.

Do I Need the Help Of A Dog Trainer?

Trainers are helpful but not necessarily required during leash training. Most people are able to successfully leash train their pets using consistency, patience, and the right tools.

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Your dog will need to be reminded not to pull on each and every walk, so the trainer is really just there to provide strategies. Consistency is key during this process and you are the key to this determining factor. Don’t give up!

Can I Bring Dog Treats On My Walk?

Giving your pet a treat while the leash is loose can be a great way to reward them. Your dog will repeat the behavior for treats and eventually, you’ll be able to leave the treats at home.

Don’t bring super smelly treats as they can distract your dog or even attract other animals. Bring a scentless treat like biscuits or training pellets to prevent unnecessary frustration.

Does Pulling On The Leash Hurt Your Dog?

Certain collar types can put your dog at risk of injury. No-Pull Harnesses and Head Collars are the safest gear in general. Make sure to research and consider the size and build of your pet before choosing a collar.

Collars that go only around the neck can harm your dog if they have a tendency to pull. Back-clipping harnesses actually reinforce your dog’s instinct to pull, which can lead to a strained back and more of the forceful pulling that we want to avoid.

The Best Collar Types To Prevent Pulling

The Head Halter is a gentle yet efficient way to prevent pulling and have more enjoyable walks. The collar fits around the dog’s head and snout, turning their head to the side when the dog pulls.

No-Pull Harnesses clip in the front and restrict movement only while the dog is pulling. This discourages pulling, even making it close to impossible, and puts you in control during the walk.

Are Prong Collars Safe?

According to the SPCA, prong collars can dig into your dog’s skin and cause severe internal damage. Though prong collars seem like an obvious choice (discomfort = don’t do it), they can harm the necks of stubborn pullers.

Most dogs that are trained with prong collars will pull when wearing a normal collar or harness. They aren’t being trained to behave, just to avoid pain.

Can I Train My Older Dog To Stop Pulling?

You can train your elderly dog to behave on a leash by using the same methods described above. The myth that old dogs can’t learn new tricks is just that – a myth.

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Breaking old habits will be part of the training process, so don’t expect to see results as fast as you would with a younger dog or puppy!

At What Age Can You Start Leash Training?

It’s common practice to begin leash training between 6 and 10 weeks. However, trainers recommend beginning the process when you notice your puppy is catching on to household habits and learning words.

If your pup remembers that it’s walk time after dinner or that yelling “NO” means to drop that shoe, they’re probably ready and able to learn. Keep in mind that the attention span of puppies is very short and can be frustrating, albeit cute.

Do Dogs Pull You To Assert Dominance?

There is a common misconception that dogs pull to assert dominance or control. Dogs show their dominance in many ways, but pulling on the leash is not one.

If you haven’t yet trained your canine to walk with a loose leash, it’s time to get started. A leash-trained dog makes for much more pleasant walks and can strengthen the relationship between you and your dog.

Be A Better Trainer For Your Dog

Have patience with your pup and remember that pulling is a natural instinct for them. While it may be super annoying to you, they feel that they’re doing the right thing.

Don’t give them a break sometimes and allow them to pull, as it will only confuse them and undo what training they’ve absorbed. Consistently reward a loose leash, and never let them pull you around.