“Question: If you give a leash correction to a large dog, you can feel confident that you aren’t doing the dog any harm. But what about with small dogs? How do you know how hard is too hard?” Let me see if I can help you…

How to Give a Proper Leash Correction To a Small Dog or Puppy

1) Lower your hand so that it is parallel to the dog’s neck. This may mean that your hand is almost touching the ground, but when you give a leash correction you want to snap sideways, parallel with your dog’s neck.

2) Only use your thumb and pointer finger on the leash. You don’t need a lot of force with a small dog, but you do need big energy. Don’t be worrying about if your snap is too hard. Just use your judgement, feel confident and in control and then snap the leash quickly to the side and then immediately relax the tension again. The tension on the leash should only last a second or two.  The purpose of a leash correction is to snap the dog out of its current behavior. You are disagreeing with his decision in a calm, quiet way.

3) You will know if your leash correction was successful if your dog stopped what it was doing, put his ears back, lowered his head, and/or made eye contact with you. If you see no changes in your dog’s behavior after the correction then you didn’t snap hard enough, your energy was too soft, or your dog has been de-sensitized to leash corrections on his neck and you need to use another means of discipline such as “The Touch“.

4) The final piece of any leash correction is what you do afterward: no tension on the leash. Leash corrections are only effective if the leash isn’t taught all the time! Work towards having a loose leash at all times so that your dog knows that tension equals discipline.

Lead your dog!


Snapping the leash is a form of discipline that throws your dog off balance. It makes him lose his concentration, stops him from doing a behavior, conditions him to avoid the thing he’s doing, and prevents excitement from escalating.

To properly perform a leash correction, you must start with a loose leash. If there is tension on the leash (aka, if your dog is pulling), you won’t be able to do this properly. Bring your hand down near your dog’s neck–if you have a small dog you will have to bend over. Quickly jerk the leash to the side (NOT back), and then immediately let the leash loose again. The leash should be taunt for less than 2 seconds.

When you do a leash correction, make sure that you are not timid, anxious, nervous, or excited. As the leader, you need to be calm and assertive in your corrections or else your dog won’t take you seriously.  If done correctly, with the right intensity and energy and timing, you should see your dog respond by lowering the head, looking at you, sitting down, or putting the ears back. A properly timed leash correction can change a dog’s behavior instantly and a smart dog needs only to be corrected in this way once or twice before getting the message that what they are doing is unacceptable behavior.

Lead your dog!