Teaching Your Puppy Not To Pull On a Leash

While we are thinking of bringing that cute puppy home and daydreaming about the nice long walks the two of us will be going on it just seems so picture perfect.

Your puppy has a ways to go before they will be walking nicely with you down the road. In fact you may find yourself being dragged down the road unceremoniously. It’s time to be teaching your puppy not to pull on a leash when you are taking them out for a walk.

teaching your puppy not to pull on a leash
teaching your puppy not to pull on a leash

Teaching your puppy or dog proper leash manners can be a challenge. Putting a leash on your puppy definitely stops them from what comes natural to them. Some puppies want to run all over the place, other puppies want to stop and smell every blade of grass there is growing and other puppies want to pee on everything that is in their path.

One thing that is vital when you are training a puppy or a dog you need to be consistent. Let your puppy get away with a certain behaviour just once and he will remember that forever and continue to look for that slip up on your part.

There is no one set method when it comes to teaching your puppy not to pull on a leash.

To teach your puppy proper leash manners the training starts before you take them out for a walk. Some dogs get very excited the moment they spot the leash. They will tear around so much that it is almost impossible to get the leash on to take them out.

The first order of business is to calm your puppy down. Since these walks are basically going to be training sessions until your puppy masters the walk it may be a good idea to tire your puppy out a bit before going for a walk.

You should engage your puppy in some form of play that will tire him out a bit. Maybe a game of tug or maybe you can take them to the leash free park and let them run off some of that energy. A calm puppy will be more receptive to a leash than a puppy that is all hyped up.

I just want to make one point here about this training, we are not teaching our puppy to heel we will be teaching them proper leash behaviour.


Methods For Teaching Your Puppy Not To Pull On A Leash


There are a couple of methods that you can use when teaching your puppy not to pull on a leash.  In the following method we will be using treats. Make sure your treats are tasty and small. Also make sure the puppy can eat them fairly quickly.

With your dog on your left side and treats in your left hand give the command you will be using to go walk. Many people will just say “Go Walk”. Every few steps you will be feeding the tasty treats to your puppy. If and when your puppy veers off to the side or goes ahead of you then stop. Call your puppy back and reward when she comes back. If you can get her to sit even better.

Repeat this exercise several times a day. Remember these walks are training sessions so you want to keep them short. Over time you will wean out the treats. When your puppy totally stops pulling on the leash you will have a very nice walking companion.

In this second method you can also use tasty soft treats. You will also need a long lead about 20 feet long. The idea here is to get the puppy to focus on you. when your puppy does learn to focus on you then she will not be pulling on her leash.

Do this exercise in a large yard or open space. Attach the lead to your puppy. Do not say anything to your puppy. You are going to be walking in a square. Without saying anything walk about 20 to 30 feet and stop. Just wait and do not say anything. Turn and walk 20 to 30 more feet. Stop and wait. Repeat this action. At first your puppy will not have a clue as to what is going on but as time goes on when you stop he will come over to you. When he does reward him.

This method will use some a form of punishment. When you are walking in one direction and your puppy is going in the other direction and she will feel a tug on the leash as you grow farther apart. She will learn quite quickly that the safest place to be is near you.

Make sure whenever you are using a leash for training that you are not using a flexi leash.

These are just a couple of methods that you can try to get your puppy to focus on you and stop pulling on the leash.

teaching your puppy not to pull on leash
teaching your puppy not to pull on leash

Remember training your puppy takes time and lots of patience. Try and make your training sessions with your puppy an enjoyable experience and try to end them on a good note.

With time and patience your puppy will become a good canine citizen.  For more information on how you can train your dog not to pull on the leash check out this video by Doggy Dan

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    • KayliAnne
    • September 3, 2015

    Interesting article 🙂 I enjoyed the read. I am also a dog trainer. I really liked how you stressed the importance of being consistent 🙂 This is something I need with my gym! I believe consistency is key to any training whether it be physical fitness, dog training, child training whatever it may be, be consistent!

    • Maria
    • September 4, 2015

    Thank you for the great post!

    I don’t have dog yet but I have started to dream having one since my 18 months old baby loves dogs.
    Only thing that is hindering me is the fact that it takes lot’s of time and dedication to teach everything to a puppy, just like with the baby… I have wondered if teaching children and puppy is in a way of a kind.

    I am having trouble teaching my baby to walk hand in hand, because he would like to run free like a puppy wherever he wishes to go. So could it help to use treats also with him?

    Anyway, what do you think, would it be wiser to get puppy or older dog in family with babies?


      • Maureen
      • September 4, 2015

      Puppies are a lot of work so if you are not up to it I would not advise it. There are many wonderful older dogs available for adoption. If you do go that route make sure you are getting an older dog that has been temperament tested and is good with children.

    • Eva
    • October 6, 2015


    thank you for your article, it’s going to come in very useful to anyone looking to train a puppy. I’ve trained an adopted, adult shelter dog to walk on a leash and even without it, it’s a lot of work but very rewarding in the end, the dog is happy and so are you 🙂 Great post!

    Take Care,

      • Maureen
      • October 6, 2015

      Thanks Eva for your comment. Taking the time to teach our furry friends can be very rewarding. When they “get it” you can almost see it in their eyes that they understand what you want and it does make them happy. Dogs are pack animals and they like to belong somewhere. Glad to see you helped out a shelter dog!

    • Angel
    • October 14, 2015

    Dear Maureen,

    You are so right in informing us it is best to tire the puppy out before going for a walk. That is exactly what we do with our puppy Tristan the Golden. He gets so excited when he sees the leash even when we believe we tired him out good before proceeding on putting the leash on him. He is definitely getting better at walking in a straight line in the middle of the sidewalk.

    Apparently he is not the type of pup that barks at other dogs along the walk or wants to run after them. He is pretty reserved in that regard.

    Sometimes he knows how to sit politely while we put and take off his leash.

    However, would you recommend that puppies should be a certain age to go for walks on a harness rather than on a collar leash?

    Thank you for answering my question in advance. 🙂

    Wishing you all the best with your online success above and beyond the horizon,


      • Maureen
      • October 14, 2015

      There is a lot of debate about whether to use a collar or a harness on a puppy. From what I have read I would think that it is best to stick with the collar. If your dog is not pulling now but is just not as attentive as you would like him then start using treats on the walk to get him to walk beside you.

      From what you are saying he sounds like your typical puppy who loves to get out for a walk.

    • Cathy
    • March 21, 2016

    Hi there Maureen,

    I think the first thing that comes when teaching a puppy, whether it’s pulling the leash or simple commands, is to not yell at them. I see so many pet owners loose their anger when their 3 month old pups pull, pee or play excessively. They want a perfectly obedient dog at 3 months old – that’s impossible!

    A dog will always be a dog and they learn best through examples. If you treat them negatively, they will react exactly that way. When you speak gently and positively, they will eventually become what you want them to do.

      • Maureen
      • March 21, 2016

      Hi Cathy – Well put. The more you yell at a dog the more they will lose focus. They actually think you are playing with them. I have found with the dog we have now the more quiet my tone is the better she responds. We got her from the pound and she was really hyper and would not listen. Believe me I had to count to 10 a few times with her but the gentle calm voice definitely worked. She has turned into a wonderfful addition to the family.

    • Athanasia
    • May 28, 2016

    Hello Maureen.
    I had a dog several years ago and I never accomplished to teach her how not to pull on her leash.
    It was very tiring going for a walk with her.
    I’m planning to adopt one in the upcoming future and I will definitely use some of the techniques that you have described here. I particularly liked the one with the square.
    Thank you for your post 🙂


    • Brandy
    • July 3, 2016

    Great techniques. I like the walking in a square method. I recently adopted a new dog from the shelter that has no idea about walking on a leash. While he’s not a puppy, he was neglected over his years and was never taught basic manners. I will definitely try this method in getting him used to the leash!

      • Maureen
      • July 4, 2016

      Hi Brandy Kudos for adopting from the shelter. There are a lot of good dogs to be found at shelters. With a bit of work and a lot of TLC you will end up with a great companion.
      I used the walking in a square method with our male dobie. He learned quite quickly where his focus was suppose to be. God rest his soul he was always a great dog to walk.

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