How to Stop a Dog Pulling on a Harness: Expert Tips and Techniques

At dogshunter, we understand the frustration that comes with walking a dog that constantly pulls on its harness. Not only can it be physically exhausting, but it can also lead to discomfort for both you and your furry friend. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you effectively to stop a dog pulling on a harness. With our expert tips and techniques, you’ll be able to enjoy peaceful and enjoyable walks with your canine companion in no time.

Understanding the Reasons Behind Pulling:

Before we delve into the strategies for curbing pulling behavior, it’s essential to understand why dogs pull on their harnesses in the first place. Here are a few common reasons:

Excitement and Energy: Dogs are naturally energetic creatures, and when they sense the thrill of going for a walk, they can become overly excited, leading to dogs pulling behavior.

Lack of Training: Dogs may not have received proper leash training, causing them to pull instinctively.

Curiosity: Dogs have an innate sense of curiosity, and when they catch a whiff of an intriguing scent or spot something interesting, their instinct is to pull towards it.

Desire for Social Interaction: Some dogs pull on their harnesses to approach other dogs or people, driven by their social nature.

Effective Techniques to Stop Pulling:

Now that we have a better understanding of why dogs pull on their harnesses, let’s explore some effective techniques to Stop a Dog Pulling on a Harness:

1. Positive Reinforcement Training:

Positive reinforcement is a highly effective training method that rewards desired behaviors and helps dogs associate pulling on the harness with negative consequences. Here’s how you can implement this technique:

Start by rewarding your dog with treats and praise when they walk calmly beside you without pulling.
Whenever your dog begins to pull, stop walking and wait for them to return to your side. Once they do, reward them with treats and positive reinforcement.
Consistency is key. Repeat this process during each walk, gradually increasing the duration of calm walking before rewarding your dog. This process has been highly effective to stop a dog pulling on a harness.

2. Use the “Stop and Wait” Technique:

This technique helps teach your dog that pulling on the harness doesn’t get them to their desired destination. Follow these steps to effectively implement the “stop and wait” technique to stop a dog pulling on a harness:

When your dog starts pulling, immediately stop walking and stand still. Hold the leash firmly but avoid pulling back.
Wait for your dog to turn back and make eye contact with you. As soon as they do, reward them with praise and continue walking.
Repeat this process consistently, reinforcing the idea that pulling doesn’t lead to progress on the walk.

3. Redirect Focus with Engaging Toys or Treats:

Another helpful strategy is to redirect your dog’s focus away from pulling by offering engaging toys or treats. Follow these guidelines to effectively redirect your dog’s attention to stop a dog pulling on a harness:

Before heading out for a walk, bring along some interactive toys or treats that your dog finds enticing.
Whenever your dog starts to pull, redirect their attention by offering them a toy or treat. Encourage them to focus on the reward rather than pulling on the harness.
Over time, your dog will associate walking calmly beside you with the reward, reducing their inclination to pull.

Additional Tips for Success:

In addition to the techniques mentioned above, here are some extra tips to ensure success to stop a dog pulling on a harness:

Consistency: Dogs thrive on routine and consistency, so make sure to apply the training techniques consistently during each walk.

Proper Fit: Ensure that the harness fits your dog correctly. An ill-fitting harness may cause discomfort and increase the likelihood of pulling. Consult a professional or refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure a proper fit.

Gradual Introductions: If your dog is not accustomed to wearing a harness, introduce it gradually. Start by allowing them to sniff and investigate the harness before putting it on. Once they are comfortable, gradually increase the duration of wearing the harness indoors before taking it outside.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation: Dogs that are physically and mentally stimulated are less likely to exhibit excessive pulling behavior. Ensure that your dog receives regular exercise and engage them in interactive play sessions or puzzle toys to help release their energy and keep them focused.

Avoid Retractable Leashes: Retractable leashes can inadvertently encourage pulling as they allow dogs to roam freely. Opt for a standard leash that gives you more control and enables consistent training.

Seek Professional Help: If you’re struggling to curb your dog’s pulling behavior, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide personalized guidance and training techniques tailored to your dog’s specific needs.

Remember, consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key to successfully stopping a dog from pulling on a harness. It may take time for your dog to learn the new behavior, so be patient and celebrate even small progress along the way.


Q#1. Why does my dog pull on a harness?

Dogs may pull on a harness for various reasons. Understanding the underlying causes can help you address the issue effectively. Here are some possible reasons why your dog might be pulling on a harness:

  • Excitement or enthusiasm: Dogs naturally have a lot of energy, and they may get excited or eager during walks, causing them to pull.
  • Lack of training: If your dog hasn’t been properly trained to walk on a leash, they may not understand the concept of walking beside you without pulling.
  • Distractions: Dogs are easily distracted by their surroundings, whether it’s other animals, interesting smells, or unfamiliar noises. These distractions can lead to pulling.
  • Fear or anxiety: Some dogs may pull on a harness because they feel anxious or fearful in certain environments. They may try to move away from perceived threats or uncomfortable situations.
  • Lack of exercise: Dogs that don’t receive adequate physical and mental exercise may have excess energy that they try to release by pulling on the harness.
Important information:
  1. Dogs may pull on a harness due to excitement, lack of training, distractions, fear, or anxiety, and inadequate exercise.
  2. Identifying the underlying cause is crucial for addressing the pulling behavior effectively.
  3. Proper training, exercise, and management of distractions can help in stopping the dog from pulling on the harness.

Q#2. How can I train my dog to stop pulling on a harness?

Training your dog to stop pulling on a harness requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Here are some steps you can take to train your dog:

  • Start with basic leash training: Teach your dog to walk beside you using verbal cues and rewards. Begin in a quiet, familiar environment and gradually introduce distractions as your dog improves.
  • Use a no-pull harness: Consider using a no-pull harness that discourages pulling by redirecting the dog’s attention or providing gentle pressure when they pull.
  • Practice loose leash walking: Encourage your dog to walk without tension on the leash. Use treats or rewards to reinforce the desired behavior of walking calmly beside you.
  • Reward good behavior: Whenever your dog walks without pulling, reward them with treats, praise, or playtime. Positive reinforcement helps reinforce the desired behavior and encourages your dog to repeat it.
  • Seek professional help if needed: If you’re having difficulty training your dog to stop pulling on a harness, consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for guidance.
Important information:
  1. Training your dog to stop pulling requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement.
  2. Using a no-pull harness and practicing loose leash walking can be helpful techniques.
  3. Professional assistance may be necessary if you’re facing challenges in training your dog.

Q#3. Are there specific harnesses that can help with pulling?

Yes, there are specific harnesses available that can assist in curbing your dog’s pulling behavior. Here are a few types of harnesses that are commonly used:

  • Front-clip harness: This type of harness has the leash attachment located in the front, at the center of the dog’s chest. When the dog pulls, the harness turns their body sideways, redirecting their attention and discouraging pulling.
  • Head halter: A head halter fits over the dog’s nose and provides control over their head movement. By gently redirecting their head, the halter helps deter pulling and encourages the dog to walk alongside you.
  • Martingale harness: A Martingale harness has a loop that tightens gently when the dog pulls. This creates a sensation that signals the dog to slow down and reduces pulling.
  • Back-clip harness: While not specifically designed to address pulling, a back-clip harness
    is a common option that attaches the leash to the dog’s back. It provides stability and control during walks, but may not be as effective in curbing pulling behavior as other types of harnesses.
Important information:
  1. Front-clip harnesses, head halters, and Martingale harnesses are popular choices to help with pulling.
  2. Front-clip harnesses and head halters redirect the dog’s attention and discourage pulling.
  3. Back-clip harnesses provide stability but may not be as effective in stopping pulling.

Q#4. What techniques can I use during walks to prevent pulling?

During walks, you can employ various techniques to prevent your dog from pulling on the harness. Here are a few strategies to try:

  • Stop and stand still: If your dog starts pulling, stop and stand still. This teaches them that pulling leads to no progress. Once they ease the tension on the leash, reward them and continue walking.
  • Change direction: Randomly change your walking direction when your dog starts pulling. This interrupts their focus and teaches them to pay attention to your movements.
  • Use verbal cues: Teach your dog specific verbal cues, such as “heel” or “easy,” to signal them to walk calmly beside you. Consistently reinforce these cues with rewards.
  • Practice leash manners: Engage in training sessions specifically focused on leash manners, such as practicing “sit” and “stay” commands during walks. This helps redirect your dog’s focus and reinforces good behavior.
  • Manage distractions: Avoid areas with high levels of distractions until your dog becomes more proficient at walking without pulling. Gradually expose them to distractions as their training progresses.
Important information:
  1. Stopping and standing still, changing directions, and using verbal cues can help prevent pulling during walks.
  2. Practicing leash manners and managing distractions are additional strategies to employ.
  3. Consistency and patience are key to effectively implementing these techniques.

Q#5. Can I use positive reinforcement to stop my dog from pulling on a harness?

Yes, positive reinforcement is a highly effective training method for addressing pulling behavior. Here’s how you can use it:

  • Reward desired behavior: Whenever your dog walks without pulling or responds to your cues, provide immediate rewards such as treats, praise, or playtime. This reinforces the behavior and encourages them to continue walking calmly.
  • Ignore pulling behavior: When your dog pulls on the harness, avoid scolding or punishing them. Instead, simply stop or change direction without giving them attention. This teaches them that pulling does not lead to positive outcomes.
  • Be consistent: Consistency is crucial when using positive reinforcement. Reward your dog every time they exhibit the desired behavior and maintain a consistent training routine.
Important information:
  1. Positive reinforcement is an effective method for training dogs to stop pulling on a harness.
  2. Rewarding desired behavior and ignoring pulling behavior are key components of positive reinforcement training.
  3. Consistency in rewarding and maintaining a training routine is essential for success.

Remember, each dog is unique, and it may take time and patience to address pulling behavior. By understanding the reasons behind your dog’s pulling, using appropriate training techniques, and being consistent with positive reinforcement, you can help your furry friend become a better walking companion.


Walking your dog should be an enjoyable experience for both of you, free from the frustration of constant pulling. By choosing the right harness, implementing effective training techniques, and being consistent and patient, you can successfully teach your dog to walk calmly on a harness. Remember to use positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, to reward your dog for desirable behavior.

While this guide provides valuable strategies to stop a dog from pulling on a harness, it’s important to remember that every dog is unique. Some techniques may work better for certain dogs than others. Adjust and tailor your approach based on your dog’s temperament, size, and individual needs.

By investing time and effort into training, you can build a strong bond with your furry friend and enjoy peaceful walks together. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your dog’s pulling behavior won’t disappear overnight. Stay committed, stay consistent, and soon you’ll be strolling with a well-behaved canine companion by your side.