If you want your dog or puppy to walk on a leash, those dog walking manners should start before you leave the house.
Usually your puppy or dog starts to get excited about you taking them for a dog walk, the minute they get sight of the dog leash.
With some puppies and dogs, this signals a great time is going to be had by all – or at least your dog anyway.
You, on the other hand may only have visions of your puppy or your dog pulling you on the leash down the street instead of your puppy or dog walking nicely by your side.
So allow me to just explain the best way to begin on walking your dog.
It starts with –calm control in the house— before you walk your dog, as you attempt to simply get the dog leash on your dog.
Here are three things you can do to begin calming your dog:
Teach your dog to “Sit!” for everything – affection, dinner/breakfast, potty breaks in the back yard, toys, etc. I can hear it now: What, the heck does this have to do with my dog pulling on the leash?
Please allow me to explain
If you get your dog in this “sit” mode, then sitting to put the dog leash on for walking becomes much more manageable. Makes sense now?
As you approach your dog with the leash, ask for a calm “Sit!” and if you do not get it, put the dog leash up and resume other activities. Repeat this exercise as much as possible until you get a calm sit.
Here’s another little trick for you to start being able to walk your dog.
To help in desensitizing your dog to you picking up the leash and the dog goes nuts: simply pick the leash up frequently during the day or evening, handle it and then put it back in place – never paying your dog any mind. You can handle the leash easily while watching television in the evenings. If you go to the kitchen during a commercial, put the leash up, go to the kitchen and then on your return get the leash again and handle it while watching television.
With consistency and repetition, this time proven exercise works every time. Now, who’s the smart one who is in control – YOU ARE!
Once you are outside, there’s more work. Usually easy dog walking on a loose dog leash can be achieved by using equipment designed to prevent pulling.
For example, Premier Pet Products makes a no pull harness for dogs called an “Easy Walk Harness” where the dog leash attaches in the front of the dog to maximize your control. Any other kind of dog harness may not work nearly as well.
Premier also makes the Gentle Leader designed to control the dog’s head much like a halter for a horse. This totally non-aversive is the tool my wife uses with our lab Sammy. As she puts it – “I look like a tail on a kite without the Gentle Leader”
Using these tools will most likely put you on the road to an easy and enjoyable walk with your dog in no time. Make sure you are comfortable with the walking solution of choice and give your dog time enough to get used to wearing whatever training equipment you decide to purchase.
A few other tips on having a fun walk are:
- Always keep your leash slack so that you don’t give you’re the resistance needed to pull against.
- If you catch your dog moving ahead of you either:
- Quickly reverse directions to put yourself back in the lead or,
- Do left turns right in front of your dog so that he begins to watch you and not pull ahead.
- Praise and initially treat your dog for being in the right spot by your side as well as when he looks at you.
Most importantly, have fun. Dogs LOVE to go for walks. They get to engage in the big world outside your home and yard, it stimulates their olfactory senses (the nose does a lot of work outside) and it stimulates their brain. Dogs need both physical stimulation AND mental stimulation. Give them both and you have a much happier dog and you get to walk your dog with ease.
Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. Together we can raise a happy, obedient dog!
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Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000 clients. Jim’s easy to follow, common sense, and positive methods have made him the “dog trainer of choice” for 30 years. One of his clients says it best:
There are people who are so good at, and passionate about, what they do, that in their presence, one can’t help thinking that they have found their true calling and are doing exactly what they should be doing on this earth. Jim is one of these rare people. His quiet and understated manner, his effective technique for training dogs (and their families) is something which I feel fortunate to have witnessed and in which to have been an active participant