My Dog is Pulling on Leash and Choking – What Should I Do?

Dogs need to be trained when it comes to being on a leash. That’s just human (and dog) nature. However, if you encounter your dog having health problems, or trouble breathing, then you may want to take them to a vet. However, you also may want to take a good look at yourself to see just how hard you’re pulling back when your dog’s leash is causing them. Sometimes though, a dog might get excited and lunge. If you have a good grip, they may end up slamming into the end of the rope and then bounce right back. But if your dog is coughing, then you need to pay close attention. This could be a sign of their trachea being damaged. You also need to know though that if a dog is pulling, it’s normal for the dough to cough. So when should you worry? We’ll get into that. 

Will Pulling On the Leash Hurt My Puppy or Dog?

The truth is, that sometimes your leash can hut your dog. The most common mistake though, is pulling the leash back too hard when your dog should lunge. If you pulled on it, then you can find out by looking into why they cough before you consider taking it to the vet.

You should generally never pull on a leash because you might accidentally pull the leash harder. Of course, if your dog starts coughing a lot, you need to understand that it could be something serious. If they cough while you’re pulling though (or shortly afterwards), sometimes offering them a simple drink of water may help alleviate the problem.

Why Does a Dog Cough When a Leash is Pulled On?

When a dog pulls while they’re on the leash, especially if they’re not completely leash trained, or if they’re stubborn, they may end up pulling hard enough that it causes them to “choke” or “cough”. This is because the trachea is being blocked off by the collar or the leash being pulled. Of course we’re not talking about simply pulling on the leash, but when a dog yanks really hard of jerks (as if they were running and WHAM! – they come to an immediate stop because of the leash). Just like it is in humans, the trachea is just cartilage that can end up losing their strength and sturdiness – especially with age. Sometimes, if the dog is too young too, it can end up being softer as well, since it is less resilient as they’re developing.

How Do I Know if It’s a Collapsed Trachea?

There are some ways to tell if it’s a tracheal collapse, or whether or not you should take your doter to the vet. First off, you’ll notice that your dog is coughing a very dry cough, and the sound that it makes sounds more like a goose honking sound. It may be caused by your dog getting excited, exercise, while eating or drinking, anxiety, and even pulling on the collar. There are more dogs that are susceptible – but it’s more common in certain breeds that are smaller during their middle-age and older stages of life. Some of the most common breeds that are affected are the Chihuahua, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle, Shih Tzu, the Yorkie, and other smaller breeds. Older dogs that are larger can have this problem, and some dogs are born with this as a birth defect.

For a dog, you may freak out at the sound of a “collapsed trachea”. But for a dog, it’s more like when we have a frog in our throat – a constant tingling, and it’s not causing any respiratory issues.

When we’re owners – first off, we’re human. We worry when our dogs are coughing loudly, or constantly. But this doesn’t mean your dog is dying, or that they are having a hard time breathing.

It Could Just Be a Cough

Sometimes, you may notice that if a dog is trying to cough something out, a gagging that’s louder at the end of the cough, or if you see a lot of yellow foamy liquid during the coughing fit, you might want to get them checked out for something else – or they simply have a cold. These days though, one needs to be careful with the COVID-19 because their symptoms are similar to a humans in some cases, but often go undetected.

There Are Ways to Avoid This

One of the most common ways that you can fix the possibility of tracheal collapse, is by first off, taking care of a vet. If your dog is in for a regular checkup and you mention it, they can check it out. If a veterinarian is not concerned (which they won’t be unless it could be detrimental or disastrous), they won’t even be worried about it.

However, you can avoid this situation by being more careful when you decide to walk your pooch or pick it up. Picking it up too hard can cause the dog to cough more when it has a collapsed trachea. More importantly, smaller dogs do better when you’re training them in the first place, and it’s even healthier, to use a harness instead of a leash for them. That’s because their small frames aren’t designed to handle pulling that is frequently associated with a leash (or the owner pulling on it themselves). Believe it or not, if you’re not careful, you can pull so hard on a small toy breed of dog’s neck that it can do a lot more damage than simply breaking or loosening their trachea (such as a broken neck or spinal slippage).

If your dog has a collapsed trachea, then you may want to bump up to the harness anyway. There are so many different products that are available for your dog.


If you are worried about your dog having a collapsed trachea, and to keep them from coughing so much when pulling on a leash, then be sure to give them a good harness and stop pulling yourself. Usually, a dog will behave better when their whole body is restricted from a harness. It can both prevent and treat a collapsed trachea and its symptoms.

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