How Can I Stop My Dog From Biting on the Lead · The Wildest

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How to Stop Your Dog From Biting the Lead

Most dogs love walking, but some love chaos a little bit more

Greyhound dog biting and pulling his leash held by a woman in a red dress in the grass
Lucas Ottone / Stocksy

I’m a dog walker and one of my clients has two adult dogs, a Whippet and an Australian Shepherd, who I take out three times a week. The Whippet is no problem, but the Aussie barks and runs around a lot, which makes getting him on the lead a challenge. He's a very big dog with a big bark. Once the lead is on, he takes it in his mouth and jumps all over the place. Walking is also a challenge because he’s always trying to grab the lead. Any suggestions?

It’s a common scene – your dog’s hyped to go on a walk but once the lead is on, they take it in their mouth and jump all over the place. It can be frustrating and make walking a challenge because they’re always trying to grab the lead. When another dog comes along, no matter how well behaved, it can feel even more chaotic. This hectic dance takes all the fun – and many of the benefits – out of dog walking. But it doesn’t have to stall all attempts to venture outside with your pup.

There are definitely things you can do to make these outings better for everyone. One of the best ways to keep the lead out of the dog’s mouth is to give them something else to put in it – say, a toy they can carry. If their mouth is occupied, they’re less likely to be interested in grabbing the lead.

However, you may have to experiment a bit to find something they like better than biting the lead. Safety is the primary consideration, but beyond that, let the dog’s interests guide you, while making sure the item is too large for them to choke on. Good options include a ball, rope tug toy, fleece animal or flying disc. Many dogs will happily carry a stick, but sticks can be dangerous due to splinters and mouth and throat punctures. If your dog is a true stick lover, try a toy designed to mimic one. For example, Kong has a few longer heavy-duty options for stick-loving dogs.

This potential solution may seem overly simple, but don’t let that stop you from giving it a try. Many dogs get super-amped up about going for a walk, and when they’re in that state, they become very mouthy and the lead is right there. By providing the dog with an outlet for their need to grab something, you’re allowing them to give in to their urge without driving you to distraction – it may just solve the problem.

Karen London holding up a small dog

Karen B. London, PhD, CAAB, CPDT-KA

Karen B. London, Ph.D., is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression, and has also trained other animals including cats, birds, snakes, and insects. She writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about training and behavior, including her most recent,  Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life.

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