Lead-pulling as a welfare concern in pet-dogs: what can veterinary professionals learn from current research?

Lesley Townsend, L. Dixon, Louise Buckley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Veterinary professionals (VPs) are often the first source of advice for clients struggling with their dog’s behaviour and pulling on lead is a commonplace undesirable behaviour VPs will encounter regularly in practice. Excluding bites, being pulled over on lead while walking is the leading cause of non-fatal dog related injuries in the UK. This narrative review investigates lead-pulling as a welfare concern in pet-dogs, highlighting aspects of the literature of particular interest to VPs.
Lead-pulling could negatively affect walk quality, frequency and duration, causing weight gain, while decreased environmental enrichment could trigger other undesirable behaviours. Aversive equipment to prevent lead-pulling can cause pain, distress and injury, but even equipment considered humane can have welfare consequences. Punitive training methods could cause dogs stress, fear and anxiety and trigger aggressive behaviour. While these lead-pulling outcomes are welfare concerns in themselves, they could also weaken dog owner attachment, a risk factor in pet-dog relinquishment.
Given lead-pulling could affect the welfare of patients in a VPs care, clinical implications and opportunities for client education are outlined. Educating clients on humane prevention and modification of lead-pulling, could make walks easier, safer and more enjoyable, with positive outcomes for clients, canine welfare and the practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVeterinary Record
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Lead-pulling as a welfare concern in pet-dogs: what can veterinary professionals learn from current research?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this