What is the best lead for a strong dog that pulls?

What is the best lead for a strong dog that pulls?

Author: Fionna Monk

Dogs pulling on their leads is one of the most common bad behaviours dog owners wish they could change. Constant tugging and pulling during walks can be a tiresome experience for both dog and owner, making what should be a refreshing, pleasant activity a little testing to say the least. There are a range of different types of collars, harnesses and leads on the market, many of which claim to solve this common problem - so how are you supposed to choose?

When it comes to finding the best leads for strong dogs that pull, consider your dog’s size, breed and temperament to evaluate the most suitable option. Here, we'll guide you on your way and explain how the right lead can ensure your dog’s safety and well-being on walks. 

Leads for strong, pulling dogs 

Each of these leads has its own method of discouraging pulling, from redirecting momentum to controlling the direction of movement. The best choice depends on your dog's size, strength, and temperament, as well as your ability to manage them during walks.

Nylon leads

Nylon is known for its durability and strength, making these leads a reliable choice. Hand-washable and quick-drying, you don’t have to worry about nylon leads getting dirty or breaking from the pull of a headstrong pooch. The material’s slight give also means that it can absorb some of the shock of sudden pulls, making walks more comfortable for both the dog and the owner.

Slip or rope leads

Made from all-natural materials to be easy on your skin and your dog, rope leads are comfortable to hold as well as incredibly sturdy. The braided design distributes the pressure of pulls across the lead, which can help prevent the lead from snapping and offers a more gentle pulling correction. Plus, the texture of the rope can provide a better grip for the owner, reducing the chance of the lead slipping out of hand during a walk. The natural weight and slight flexibility of rope leads also make it easier to gradually train dogs not to pull over time. Made from all-natural materials to be easy on your skin and your dog, check out our huge range of colourful and strong rope leads.

Heavy-duty retractable leads for training

Generally, a retractable lead is not what you want for a very strong dog that pulls due to a lack of control. However, a heavy-duty retractable lead which comes with a sturdy, short-length lock feature can allow dog owners to adjust the length of the leash quickly to prevent their dog from gaining too much momentum.

This type of lead is best used in open areas where your dog has the freedom to explore safe surroundings, helping to discourage pulling in the first place. The key to using a retractable lead effectively is to keep it at a length that allows you to maintain control, using the lock feature to prevent the dog from extending the lead by pulling.

Why does my dog pull so hard on walks?

Ever wondered why your four-legged friend is dragging you face-first through the mud? Here are a couple of main reasons why your dog might be pulling too hard on walks:

Pace Difference

Dogs naturally have a faster gait compared to humans. Since they are on four legs and we are on two, it's challenging for them to slow down and match our pace. This disparity in walking speeds means they're often ahead, pulling on the leash to maintain their natural rhythm.

Exploration and Excitement

The outside world is incredibly stimulating for dogs. Their sense of smell is vastly superior to ours, making every outdoor excursion an adventure filled with new scents, sights, and encounters. This surge of excitement and curiosity to explore everything can lead them to pull on the leash as they try to take in as much as possible in a short time.


Some dogs might pull more if they aren’t used to leads from an early age and want to investigate their surroundings more. Equally, some dog breeds are more active and just like humans, dogs vary in personality too. Pulling in all types of dog can often be resolved with training, but the combination of pace, excitement and curiosity on a walk can be overwhelming until they have been fully trained.

Is a harness better than a collar for dogs that pull?

The question of whether harnesses are better than collars comes up for many dog owners. Although collars offer some control, harnesses are considered a superior choice due to the distribution of pressure.

Unlike traditional collars, which concentrate pressure around the neck and can potentially cause harm to the trachea or exacerbate issues with pulling, harnesses spread the force across a larger area of the body, including the chest and shoulders. This not only minimises the risk of injury but also provides the owner with better control over their dog without causing discomfort. Plus, harnesses discourage pulling by directing the dog's momentum sideways or back towards the owner, making it easier to manage and guide them during walks. 

What kind of dog harness should I use? 

There are many different types of dog harness, and choosing one can feel overwhelming. A body harness with a back-clip design is particularly suited for dogs that tend to pull, as it takes pressure away from your dog’s neck. This configuration also reduces the chances of the leash tangling beneath your dog's legs, guaranteeing a smoother walk. Topdog’s range of nylon strap harnesses are ideal for strong-pulling dogs, featuring a back-clip lead attachment for more control and adjustable straps for size. Made of durable nylon, our strap harnesses have stunning designs and are hard-wearing for dogs that like to play!

How do I stop my dog from pulling?

For situations where immediate control is necessary for safety reasons, such as preventing a dog from running into traffic or being overly reactive to other dogs, short-term use of head collars or slip leads may be appropriate. These tools can offer more immediate control over the dog's movements and direction. However, they should be used with caution and under the guidance of a professional trainer, as improper use can cause discomfort or even injury to the dog. 

How to stop a big dog from pulling on the lead: appropriate training

Employing reward-based training techniques can help stop your dog from pulling, reinforcing positive behaviour without any of the adverse effects associated with punishment-based methods.  Punishment can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and even aggression in dogs, potentially harming the crucial bond between a man and his best friend.

In this case, recognise and reward your dog for walking nicely without pulling using treats, praise or toys as incentives. Reward your dog when the leash goes slack to reinforce this behaviour. Consistency is key; rewards should be given every time your dog behaves well so they associate walking calmly on a leash with positive outcomes.

Incorporating training exercises that build focus and attention can also be beneficial. Teaching commands like "look" or "watch me" can redirect your dog's attention back to you, making it easier to manage and prevent pulling. Gradually increasing the distractions during training sessions will help your dog learn to maintain focus even in stimulating environments.

No more pulling!

Through a combination of positive reinforcement, proper equipment and making sure your dog is exercised and mentally stimulated enough, lead pulling can become a thing of the past. This approach won’t only stop your dog from pulling on walks but also strengthens the bond between dog and owner. Remember that some breeds require more physical and mental stimulation to get out their excess energy and excitement. Engaging in activities that fulfil your dog’s breed-specific needs can lead to a calmer demeanour on walks.

Ready to lead the way? Shop our collection of robust leads for your pup.

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