How to Stop a Golden Retriever Pulling on a Lead

This post will show you how to stop a Golden Retriever pulling on a lead

Golden Retrievers are gentle, loving dogs, but boy can they pull and it can start to feel like getting them under control is a losing battle. The good news is; were here to help. This post will give you some handy tips on loose-leash training your Golden Retriever.

Forget about choke chains, prong collars and anti-pull devices. It’s really simple to leash train your dog.

Loose leash training is not the same as having your dog walk at heel; it is getting your pup to walk with the leash slack, whereas heelwork demands your dog to stay extremely close to your side, focusing on you 100%. Whilst this is great for competitions and obedience, it doesn’t allow them to sniff and explore

We always recommend positive dog training methods, so why not give the below methods a try to tackle your dog pulling right now!

8 tips on training your Golden Retriever to walk on a loose leash

1) The quicker you start training your Golden Retriever puppy, the better

Teaching your best friend new things is always best when they are young and leash manners are no different. Even before they can go outside, you can get them used to the collar with a leash attached and teach them basic commands that will make things much easier when you venture out.

A 12lb puppy is a lot easier to control than an adult dog and if your puppy will sit and come to you when asked and has learned some self-control, teaching them to walk nicely will be a cinch.

2) Focus, focus focus

There are lots of distractions for your dog on any outdoor adventure, strange sounds, other dogs, people and best of all, thousands of enticing smells. Therefore it’s essential that you can pull (not literally) back from all that and get them to pay attention to you.

This can be achieved by saying their name followed by the command “look” or “watch” when they comply; reward them. They will soon learn that making eye contact results in something good no matter what else is going on.

3) Teach impulse control

When a dog acts impulsively, they act on a whim with no thought for the consequences, a bit like a baby. It’s something they need to learn from their pet parents and best of all, it’s fun. For example, you can play tug of war for a couple of minutes, then say drop it. The dog won’t want too but if they do and receive a reward, then the next time, they will give up the tug toy more easily.

There are plenty of fun activities that will help to improve your Golden Retriever’s self-control on walks.

This video by Victoria Stillwell shows how to teach your Golden Retriever some restraint

4) Use the right gear when walking a Golden Retriever

There is an overwhelming choice for leads, collars and harnesses, and some debate whether the last one encourages pulling. Whichever you choose, whether a martingale collar, slip lead or head halters, it’s essential to get the right fit which should be snug but not too tight.

Never use a choke chain; they do nothing to stop dogs from pulling and are cruel. A soft flat collar works best for daily walks and the lead should be long enough that your pup has room to explore but not too long, so you lose control. A retractable leash is not recommended as they do not give the best control.

5) No-pull harness for Golden Retrievers?

These are excellent if an older dog pulls but are no substitute for proper training. We love the one by rabbitgoo and it tops the list in many of our reviews. You can use it to stop pulling and as a regular harness for casual walks once Fido has learned manners.

6) Reward the correct position with treats

When you start walking, your Golden Retriever pup have a pocketful of treats ready; if they are calmly walking with the lead slack, praise profusely and give a treat.

When your dog starts pulling in one direction, stop and walk in the opposite direction until once again there is no tension on the dog’s leash. Keep training sessions short as all these changing directions can be frustrating at first.

7) Don’t inadvertently encourage leash pulling

Should Fido start pulling when for any reason when you’re out dog walking, for example, if they see other animals, do not follow them, as this will undo all your loose leash walking training.

If your dog learns that pulling results in them getting to where they wanted, they will continue to do so; the bad habit will be reinforced and both you and your pup will be back to square one. You can also invest in the best dog leashes for pullers if things start to get too bad and you need help reinforcing good habits.

8) Give clicker training a try

Clickers are a fantastic training tool and work really well for loose-leash training, and you can pick them up for less than £5 at your local pet store or online.

They are used to communicate to your dog they have done exactly what you want; however, timing is critical with this type of method.

This video shows how to use clickers effectively for dog training.

Why Golden Retrievers Pull

They have a lot of energy.

If you own a Golden Retriever, you’ll know that this breed has boundless energy and pulling may be the result. You can try tiring them out before going on a walk with a game of fetch in the garden or playing tug of war. A dog that has got rid of some of that pent up energy will be less likely to forge ahead.

They haven’t learned good leash manners.

Adult dogs that haven’t been trained will pull simply because they don’t know any better and the behaviour has never been addressed. In this case, you will need to go back to basics, but the old adage you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is wrong. You can train your Golden Retriever to have better manners at any age with positive reinforcement and some patience.

They naturally walk faster than you.

Dogs can walk much faster than most humans and being tethered to our sides can be frustrating for some who want to charge off and explore. Especially Goldies, who can be overly friendly and want to say hello to everyone else at the dog park.

They need to learn that walking with us is beneficial for them and for Goldens; this usually involves treats.


Pulling on the leash is a common problem for dog owners and it can make walking a large breed challenging, especially as Golden Retrievers love greeting everyone they meet with a wagging tail, but it’s not something that you need to put up with forever.

The good news is this breed are keen to please their humans and are really easy to train, so if you start leash training early, bad habits won’t develop and with a bit of patience, time and consistency, your four-legged friend will have impeccable walking manners in no time.

We hope this article has given you some tips on how to get your Golden Retriever walking nicely. Why not join in the discussion on our social media channels? We’d love to hear how you get on and what’s worked for you if your Golden Retriever has stopped pulling!

More Golden Retriever Posts

John Devlin

Blogger and owner of George and Henry. Two gorgeous goldens that couldn’t be more different. One is a dream loving and caring, and his sibling is as naughty as can be. When I am not blogging about dogs, I love watching sport and travelling with the family.
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