How To Train Your Golden Retriever To Stop Pulling At The Leash

If you have a golden retriever, then you know that going on a walk often means the dog is walking you! Golden retrievers are friendly, happy dogs, who want to greet and play with everyone they meet out walking. This leads to leash pulling, and it can happen in puppies as well as adult dogs. It can start to feel like there is nothing you can do to stop your dog from pulling at the leash, except go along with it, or reduce the number of walks. We're here to help. Let's look at some tips to stop your golden retriever from pulling at his leash.

Golden retriever leash training

Train Them Young

When you get a puppy, you should start leash training right away. Many people make the mistake of not doing so, but the sooner good leash manners are instilled in your little Golden, the better. Even if he is just 8 weeks old. Far better to start with a puppy than a 60 pound growing dog.

Have the Right Tools

With any task that you do, things will be easier if you have the right tools and this is no different. If your golden retriever is still learning how to walk, it is best to not use a retractable leash. If you use a retractable leash, your golden cannot learn what distance he can go that is within his accepted boundaries. It is much better to use a fixed length leash. Another good alternative is our Sierra Dog Leash.

A front lead harness like our Adventure Harness, Sports Harness or Urban Harness can also be helpful because as your dog starts pulling, a front lead harness will gently redirect his force to the side, so that he cannot go where he wants to go. He will soon learn that pulling doesn't get him to where he wants to go. A harness and leash aren't magically going to make your dog not pull, but the right tools will go a long way to helping you train your golden retriever.

How to train your dog not to pull

Teach Self Control

Golden retrievers have a lot of energy, and have to be taught self control. Knowing and obeying commands will help your dog stay calm and cool while out on a walk. Starting with basic commands like, sit, stay, go to bed, etc, are all good ways for you to work with your puppy on self control.

Don't Play Tug With The Leash

If your dog is in the habit of pulling on the leash, it is very important to not pull back. Big dogs like golden retrievers tend to respond to pressure on their leashes with even more pressure, leading to a tug of war between you and your dog. That's taking a bad habit and making it worse. Instead, stop and wait until your dog comes back to your side, or call him back by name. Don't reel him in, but keep the leash slack and relaxed and wait for him to come.

No Pull Dog Harness

Reward Correct Position

Rewarding your dog for good behavior is important. Whenever your golden retriever is walking calmly by your side with a loose leash, make sure to reward him. Turning it into a game, something golden retrievers love, will make it a fun learning process for him. Rewarding him with his favorite treats, toys or praise, whatever he likes, will ensure that he repeats the good behavior.

Tire Out Your Dog Before Walks

Every time you put on the leash, your dog gets super excited. Golden retrievers tend to get more excited than most other breeds. Try tiring your dog out before taking him for a walk. You might find that it makes a difference. Easy ways to do this is to play fetch with them, or make them chase their favorite toys. Sometimes, your dog might even be too tired to go for a walk.

Golden retriever

Look At Walks As Training Sessions

Every walk can be an opportunity for your dog to be taught better manners. Keep in mind that your dog may become overly tired with the walking and the learning, so be sure to keep the sessions short and fun.

Dogs will repeat behavior that gets reinforced, so it's important to ensure that your golden retriever is not being rewarded for pulling on his leash. For example, if he pulls on the leash because he wants to sniff at a bush or greet a person on the street, and you let him do it, then he will continue to pull. You have just reinforced his bad behavior. So if you feel your golden retriever pulling you in one direction, you need to plant your feet and not move, until he returns to you. If your dog is very strong, you can start walking in the opposite direction. As soon as he is walking next to you calmly, you can turn around and go in the direction he wants. Dogs are smart creatures, and golden retrievers are no exception. They are quick learners, and eager to please you. The tips in this article, coupled with patience and determination, not to mention treats, will help you train your golden retriever not to pull and make your walks enjoyable for the both of you.


  • Anonymous

    Hi Sue

    Thank you very much for your message. It does sound like your golden retriever may have a bit of an abnormal gait, which can be caused by a whole range of issues. To be sure, we’d recommend going to your local vet and letting him have a look. It could be something that he grows out of, but it can also be a sign of a more serious underlying issue.

    We hope that helps!

  • Susanfothergill

    My golden retreiver is 7 months old and wobbles and skips when walking is this some think I should be worried about thank you sue

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