Stop Dogs From Pulling On Leash--Using Harnesses and Head Halters
Updated: Jul 17
When you need help with your dog dragging you down the street, the right equipment may be able to help. If you’re having serious problems, we highly recommend that you consult with a local trainer. You’ll be amazed at how much a qualified trainer can help.
For equipment, you have two primary options for getting help with pulling. The first is a harness designed to redirect your dog’s forward movement to one side by using a front attachment. This keeps your dog from leaning in and continuing to pull. These work well for many dogs and are an easy for your dog to adjust to.
The second option is a head halter. These can be incredibly effective if used correctly, but they come with a bit more learning for both you and your pup. We promise they are not as difficult as they might seem at first, though! If you take just a little time to learn about them and how to use them correctly, they can help correct even the most unruly of dogs! If you are having a lot of trouble on walks or have already tried harnesses, skip ahead to read about head halters.
Not every harness works well if you're having trouble with pulling. The most common mistake we see is choosing one that only makes the problem worse. It’s usually from good intentions--your dog is choking against their collar, so you put them in a comfortable, padded harness, usually with a back clip, so they don’t hurt themselves when they pull. Unfortunately, this often is counterproductive.
You can learn more about The Best No Pull Harnesses and why they are so effective here. Here is our favorite no pull harness, the 2 Hounds Freedom harness.
2 Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness
The Freedom No Pull Harness provides 2 attachment points--clips in front and on the back. Either or both of these clips can be used. The clip on the back is a martingale loop, so it will tighten when your pup pulls, providing some feedback. We love these and think they work great, and they are our go-to recommendation for dogs we need extra help with.
If you need more control than a harness provides, we recommend a head halter.
Even the best harness wraps around the dog’s chest, giving them leverage to pull against, so they aren’t effective at helping all dogs from pulling. A head halter lets you guide your dog’s head--this gives you more influence over what they look at as well as the direction they are going. They are effective for horses and other large animals, and they’ll make managing a large, energetic pup easy.
Head halters are easier to use than you might think, but they take a bit of an adjustment from using a leash with a collar or harness. So take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with them and their use if you haven't used one before. You will need to acclimate your dog to it too, but once you do, these are highly effective. If you aren’t familiar with them, it might be best to start at your local, trusted pet shop. The staff there should be able to advise you on options and help you choose the right size/fit for your dog.
K9 Transitional Leash
Our personal favorite option is the K9 Transitional Leash (we aren’t even a marketer for them--we just really love this product!). The team at K9 have put together plenty of materials to help you properly use these, so visit their site:
This slips over your pup’s neck, and you pull a loop of the leash around their muzzle. Since it’s all one piece of connected rope, when you pull the leash it tightens around the muzzle, providing immediate contact pressure for training purposes.
Other Head Halters
Two other popular models are the Pet Safe Gentle Leader and the Halti Head Collar. While neither of these provide as much feedback to your pup as the Transitional Leash, either can be a great choice for ease of use and effectiveness.
We’ll have some additional tips for using head halters out soon. However, you may want to consult with a trainer if you’re having any problems getting your dog started with them.