Have you heard of ‘loose-lead walking’? It’s a fancy dog training term for something very ordinary. Loose-lead walking is the technical term for ‘walking down the street WITHOUT your dog dragging you over to every tree and mailbox, and pulling after every dog, person, car and bicycle’. Sound good?

The term simply refers to walking with the lead (or leash) hanging loose between you and your dog, not tight or taut. It is relaxed, without tension. And you know what? It’s a pretty good indication of how you and your dog might be feeling on a walk!


The obvious reason is for the comfort of both parties! It’s simply not comfortable having a 35kg dog dragging you down the street. Even a 5kg dog can become a nuisance if they are darting left and right in front of you. Similarly, your dog does not find it comfortable to pull you using their neck, despite appearances. They may do it because their motivation to get somewhere is stronger than the discomfort they feel by pulling on the lead, but it definitely isn’t comfortable. 

Your dog should also walk on a loose lead for safety. A strong pulling dog can pull you over and hurt your arm, back or shoulder. You can fall and become injured. You can even be pulled off the road into traffic! Your dog can also experience serious injury and damage to their neck from either cumulative or sudden pressure from pulling if the lead is attached to their collar. (Pressure on the windpipe is especially risky for dogs with short skulls and flatter faces like pugs, English and French bulldogs, etc as their breathing is already compromised).


The most effective way to have a dog who walks relaxed and calm by your side is by combining the right equipment with some simple, consistent training.

Our top pick of training equipment is a front-attach harness such as the Stylish Hound OG No-Pull Harness. Its front clip attachment is positioned at the chest so that when your dog pulls, the harness directs them to turn toward you. Over time, they learn that pulling on the lead does not help them to move forward. 

On top of this, you should reward your dog with praise and treats when they turn to you, so they learn that this is what you want them to do. The harness naturally guides your dog to turn back toward you, and with you sweetening the deal with tasty treats when this happens, your dog will develop the habit of turning to you instead of pulling ahead!

If your dog is a particularly determined or practised puller, consider a variation on the No-Pull Harness such as Stylish Hound’s Ruff n’ Tuff Harness. It is designed with a martingale function at the front to give you extra control. When your dog pulls, the martingale function tightens so the harness guides your dog back towards you.

For dogs who are particularly large and strong, or dogs who pull/bounce/lunge toward people/dogs/cars/etc, there is also the option of training your dog to walk on a head collar (aka head halter). As the name suggests, it is a type of ‘collar’ which sits on your dog’s muzzle and attaches by a strap behind their head. The lead clips beneath the chin, allowing you to control the direction your dog faces. This can be a useful tool to assist with training and to allow a strong dog to be walked safely, however it requires committed training to use. If your dog has not been trained to wear a halter, they will find it uncomfortable and are likely to rub it off, rendering it ineffective. Please check our resource centre before using to learn how to pleasantly introduce your dog to the Stylish Hound Halter.

(Please note: although head halters can be a useful safety and training tool for dogs who display reactivity or aggression on walks, they are NOT dog muzzles and will not prevent bites.)


DO use a training harness for dogs learning to walk on a loose lead

check that your dog is comfortable and all equipment is fitted correctly

give treats for walking by your side and ‘checking in’ with you on walks

use a head halter for dogs who need extra help while they learn

use a retractable lead to teach your dog lead walking

let your dog practice pulling you on lead

pull on the lead yourself to control your dog.


Harnesses and head halters are training tools: they help you teach your dog. They should always be used in combination with training to ensure they work safely, comfortably and effectively. 

Plus, training teaches your dog the
skill of loose lead walking. With a little practice, your dog can learn to walk on a loose lead no matter what gear they’re wearing. Wouldn’t that be great? 

Set yourself and your dog up for success by introducing training equipment in a gradual and pleasant manner for your dog. It doesn’t have to be a chore! Short 5–10 minute sessions daily are perfect. And using treats, toys and games makes the training process fun for both of you!


  • Is your harness bunching to one side when your dog pulls? First, check the fit of your harness. Is your chest strap too loose? You should be able to fit no more than 2-3 fingers under the strap. 
  • If fitted correctly, is your dog responding to the harness guidance by turning toward you? If not, get your dog’s attention when they reach the end of the lead by calling their name or making a noise, then hold out a treat as soon as they look at you. Repeat this until they begin to look at you when they feel themselves reach the end of the lead. You should do this every time your dog turns toward you in the early stages of training. The more your dog feels rewarded for turning toward you and walking beside you, the more they will do it until it becomes a habit!
  • Is your lead wrapping around your dog’s neck? Most people prefer their dog to walk on either their left or right side. Whichever side you pick, use that hand to give treats (eg. if your dog walks on your left, feed your dog with your left hand). This will reward staying on that side, which will prevent the lead tangling that happens from your dog crossing in front of you.
  • Is your dog pulling like a sled and risking damage to the equipment? This can be dangerous if it leads to breakage. If someone is constantly pulling hard on your shirt and you continue to move in the other direction, your shirt will eventually rip! The same goes for equipment. So please look out for signs that your dog is not responding and do some simple training exercises to set you and your dog up for success.