How to Stop a German Shepherds Pulling on a Lead

German Shepherds are one of the most loved dogs in the world. They’re strong, intelligent and easy to train. However, they tend to pull on leashes, which can be frustrating for owners who want a more leisurely walk with their dogs.

German shepherds are a powerful breed, and if you don’t get leash pulling under control, then it can often be hard to stop them when they pull as hard as possible, especially if they lunge at other dogs or dog owners.

The following six tips will help you stop your German Shepherd from pulling on the lead so you can enjoy your walks together!

8 Tips to Stop a German Shepherd Pulling on Leash

The German Shepherd is known for its intelligence, loyalty and ability to herd sheep or cattle. It’s not uncommon for German shepherds to pull on the leash when they walk with their owners, but this can be prevented. Read on to find out how.

1) German Shepherd Owners should start leash training from an early age

You’ve just brought home your new German Shepherd. Now is the time to start training; the first thing to do is have your dog sit on command, then you can get them used to a leash and train them to walk nicely in the house.

Teaching them from a young age will be easier and less stressful on both of you if they’ve already got good habits in a familiar environment like home before you begin walking outside and it’s much easier to control a 12lb pup than a boisterous 60lb teenager

2) Get your GSD to focus

When it comes to teaching your GSD to walk properly, one crucial thing that you must do is have them focus; they are a herding breed meaning anything that moves will grab their attention. So offering eye contact and giving them a reward will keep their attention on you rather than other things which may be going on

Teaching this skill takes time, but with patience, repetition and the odd treat, your puppy will get the hang of it pretty quickly and it will be a great help when training him to walk on a loose leash

This short video shows how to get your dog’s attention

3) The importance of impulse control

Teaching your pup some self-control may seem like a challenge, but it is worth every minute of effort. An impatient dog doesn’t magically become a patient adult; if you do not teach them impulse control by the time they reach adolescence, these habits will likely have already developed into bad behaviours! This includes your dog pulling when walking.

Some ways to do this is to have your GSD learn that good things come from you and this can be done in a fun way by playing games.

Make your dog sit and wait for their food; once they are in a relaxed state, you can place the bowl on the floor, but you can make it more challenging by having them not touch it until you give a cue.

This can also be done when you open the front door, make them sit and wait for you to go through first, then give some treats. Teaching them to “leave it” and settle on command when young helps them stay calm and results in a well-behaved puppy that doesn’t pull on the leash.

4) Use the right equipment

Before you start walking your pup outdoors, make sure any equipment fits correctly. If Fido is uncomfortable, walks will be unpleasant for him and if the collar is too loose, the worst may happen and your best friend could escape.

The best training tool for your dog will always be a well-fitted flat collar; when used correctly on a leash, this will allow you to keep control of him at all times without hurting his throat.

Don’t use a choke chain for training! A choke chain is a metal collar with rings at each end and its purpose is to tighten around your German Shepherd’s neck as he pulls against it, choking him and discouraging pulling by hurting his throat. It isn’t kind and doesn’t work.

Always use a leash that matches your size – if you’re taller, get a longer leash, so it doesn’t pull on your arm when the dog pulls.

5) Try a no-pull harness

We’ve talked about training a puppy in obedience and walking on a lead, but what about if you adopt an older dog that pulls like a steam train? In this situation, a no-pulling harness may help to minimise pulling as the front leash ring directs your dog towards you and can stop them from lunging forward.

You can even use them with a double-ended leash for even more control when walking a German Shepherd.

You could also try a Halti or other type of head collar to help with the pulling. These collars work by gently directing their head towards you, which helps them learn not to pull.

Both options can help train Fido to walk nicely and are great for an older German Shepherd that hasn’t been trained.

Find out here what is the top harness for a German Shepherd.

6) Reward the correct position

When your German Shepherd is in heel position– walking calmly by your left side with a loose leash -be sure you are rewarding him. This can be anything he likes, including a treat, lots of praise or a favourite toy

Simply reinforcing desired behaviours is one of the best training methods and once canines eventually realize what you want, they become ingrained into their routine forever

7) Don’t reinforce the pulling

As mentioned above, reinforced behaviours stick. If your German Shepherd Dog pulls on the leash and you respond by letting them drag you over to other dog owners or sniff that bush, it will encourage more of this behaviour in future and get worse over time as well!

One way to solve this during leash training is when you feel your dog start to pull on the leash, plant both feet and stop walking completely until he comes back.

If when you simply stop moving your pooch doesn’t return to position, then change direction, turn and walk a few steps in the opposite direction. Once they’re walking side-by-side nicely change directions again and proceed as normal

8) Use a clicker

If your dog is not quite getting your verbal cues during a training session, you could try a clicker; these are excellent tools to reinforce positive behaviour and are simple to use

  1. After your dog obeys the heel command, press the button on the clicker once and reward with a treat immediately. 
  2. If your dog ignores you and doesn’t stop pulling, get your dog’s attention and repeat, don’t use the clicker in this case; it’s there only to reward good behaviours.

If you have adopted a German Shepherd, it may take some persistence and patience on your part before your new friend understands your body language and gets what you want, but they are an intelligent breed and easy to teach, so don’t give up.

Clicker training classes may help reduce the learning curve giving you and your Shepherd more confidence.

Why German Shepherds Pull on the Lead

They’ve never been trained not to pull.

The number one reason your dog is pulling on their leash might be because they haven’t been trained not to. If they are constantly jerking back and forth without being corrected, it means that this behaviour has become second nature to them;

They are naturally alert.

Another reason is that there’s so much going on in your dog’s head. Not only are there other dogs that demand their attention, but there are perhaps squirrels, traffic, people. There are also smells and sound you can’t even sense, but your dog can.

You’re too slow

Another reason your German Shepherd pulls is that you are just not getting to where they want to go quick enough. If you’ve ever seen how this dog moves, they are pretty fast; however, your pup will learn to walk at your pace with the proper leash training.

They may not be getting enough exercise.

Walking German Shepherd dogs for twenty minutes a day just isn’t going to cut it; they are high-energy dogs that need lots of mental and physical stimulation. Some dogs pull due to excess energy so try playing games with your pooch, obedience training and other activities to get rid of pent up energy before a walk.

Final Thoughts

Imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to take your pup for walks without them constantly pulling. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that they are well behaved and within their boundaries even if mom or dad isn’t around!

These tips should help if you’re having issues with German Shepherd pulling behaviour or any other type of leash training problems, for that matter! 

It’s important to remember that not all dogs are the same and some may take longer to teach to walk on a loose leash than others. Always use positive reinforcement when training your dog, such as praise, their favourite toy or a treat and never punish them for bad behaviour. 

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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