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Training Your Dog to Behave When Walking

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Training Your Dog to Behave When Walking
By LITTLE PUPPY PAWS | February 24, 2023
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Proper dog training can assist your dog in regaining their focus while out for a walk. Consider teaching cues to divert their attention away from the smell and back to you. But how can this be accomplished?

 

Whenever your dog walks on the leash without pulling, reward them with tasty treats every few paces and continue walking. If your dog begins to pull, stop for a moment to teach them that this behavior means no walks, and then continue until they return to your side.

Why Does Your Dog Pull It’s Leash While on Walks?

An excitable dog pulls because they want to go, go, go. A curious dog lunges at a fascinating dog, person, shrub, butterfly, or whatever catches their eye. In their eagerness to return to the safety of their territory, a nervous dog may drag you home.

 

Dogs pull for numerous reasons, but they all boil down to one thing: dogs pull because we allow them to. When your dog takes the lead, and the walk continues, or even speeds up, they will continue to pull.

How to Discourage Puppies from Pulling

This exercise from a master trainer teaches puppies proper leash behavior. Choose a quiet, distraction-free location to practice leash training, usually indoors or in a fenced area.

  • Leash your puppy and hold the leash close to your body until the puppy stops leaping around. It may take some time, but their antics will eventually stop. When your dog settles and lies or sits down, praise them, give them a treat, and say, “Let’s go.” Take one step forward and stand still.
  • Allow your puppy to calm down. When they do, praise them, give them a treat, say, “Let’s go,” and take another step, repeating the entire sequence. Each time, have the pup stay in the sit or down position for a few seconds longer before receiving the treat and returning to the “walk.”
  • Longer walks should be rewarded. You can progress to two steps when your dog can go on these one-step walks without pulling. When your dog can walk two steps without pulling, progress to three steps, and so on. You should be able to walk together with a loose leash eventually, and the pup should sit or lie down when you stop.

How to Deal With the Issue in Adult Dogs

If you need to teach your older dog how to walk on a leash, try the following:

  • Change your direction. Start walking with the leash close to your side so the dog only has a few inches of slack. When the dog pulls in any direction, go in the opposite direction. If they lunge ahead, turn around and walk backward. If they pull to the left, turn right, and so on. Don’t jerk the leash; instead, change direction smoothly. Your dog will realize that it must stay close to your side if they do not want to be left behind.
  • Plant yourself. With your dog on a leash, proceed. Turn into a tree, that is, plant your feet and don’t budge, when they begin to pull, and the leash tightens. Call their name and take a few steps back until they come toward you. Reward them with a treat and resume your walk. Stop again the second they pull on the leash.

Common Mistakes

Make sure you avoid the following potential mistakes:

Allowing the Walk to Continue

By continuing to walk, you are rewarding your dog for lunging ahead. When you accelerate, you give them a bonus reward: they get to go even faster.

Pulling the Leash Back

Most dogs will pull even harder in response to the pressure.

Making Use of a Retractable Leash

These leashes teach the dog that pulling causes them to travel further, not a good lesson for a puller. Remove the retractable leash until your dog learns proper leash behavior.

Ways to Teach Your Dog to Walk on a Leash

Daily walks are critical for your dog’s health and well-being; walking will help keep them fit and in a healthy weight range and meet their behavioral needs, including the need to socialize with other dogs. We also know that dog walking has similar benefits for owners and is a fun way to strengthen our special bond with our canine companions. To ensure that walking your dog is a positive experience, start on the right foot by successfully training them to walk on a leash.

Select a Designated Area

First and foremost, you will require the necessary equipment. It is critical to walk your dog on a leash for safety reasons. Choose a leash that is in good condition, robust, comfortable, and the right size for your dog’s build – it should not be too thick or thin for your dog’s build, and the best length is about 2 meters to give your dog some freedom to explore.

The Training Phase

The following step is training. Nobody wants to be the owner whose dog pulls ahead, chews on the leash, or spends the entire walk gulping garbage. It’s best to start training your dog as soon as possible to avoid these issues, but there is always time. Reward-based dog training is the most effective and humane way to teach your dog. This entails rewarding your dog, with treats, praise, or a toy for positive behaviors while ignoring unwanted behaviors.

 

Because training sessions are enjoyable, reward-based training improves the quality of our relationship with our dogs. Any training that uses aversive techniques, such as verbal or physical punishment, should be avoided because it fails to teach dogs how to behave and can also cause anxiety and defensive aggression.

Enjoy the Moment With Your Buddy

Training should be enjoyable for both of you! Begin by teaching your dog or puppy to walk on a leash using the RSPCA-recommended loose-leash walking technique. To accomplish this, whenever your dog walks on the leash without pulling, reward them with tasty treats every few paces and continue walking. If your dog begins to pull, stop for a moment to teach them that this behavior means no walks, and then continue until they return to your side! This method can also prevent your dog from chewing on the leash. Holding your dog’s leash should feel loose, indicating that they are walking correctly rather than pulling you ahead. If your dog continues to pull despite this training, try using a front-attach harness instead of a collar and leash to train your dog to walk on a leash.

 

A front-attach harness is a gentle training aid, but it must be appropriately fitted with a double-ended leash that attaches at the front and back of the harness, allowing you to leash your dog from the back and turn them if they pull. Avoid equipment that causes pain, discomfort, or distress, such as choke chains, prong collars, head collars, and extendable leashes, which can encourage pulling and cause neck injuries.

Training with Rewards

Additionally, you may teach your dog to leave things alone through reward-based training, which is helpful to stop them from picking up trash or potentially harmful objects like toxic plants when out for a walk. To achieve this, teach your dog a verbal command like “leave it” or “drop it.” It entails holding a treat in your closed palm, denying your dog’s attempts to nudge your hand to acquire the treat, and then letting them take it when they move slightly away from it. Different trainers may employ various strategies to teach this. Add the verbal cue once your dog regularly performs this; you can use it as necessary while walking. Just be sure to have some delectable treats on hand for rewards.

Call Your Dog’s Name

Teach your dog to recall or a command to come when called, as this is an essential training component. This keeps them safe and enables you to take advantage of off-leash strolling when it is legal and safe. Use the following procedures, beginning initially in a secure place like your backyard:

  • Put your dog on a long leash, shout their name, and move quickly in front of them.
  • Use the command “come” and treat your dog when running to you.
  • Before you give your dog the command, increase the space between you two.
  • Gradually practice using the leash while not wearing a leash at home before moving on to distraction-prone public spaces.
  • Move on to off-leash training in a calm, safe public space away from hazards like roadways and where dogs are permitted off-leash after your dog’s recall is 80% dependable on a long leash with lots of distractions.

Training your dog to accompany you on walks will provide you with a lifetime of pleasure and help keep your cherished companion safe when you are out and about. Consult your veterinarian if you have any worries about your dog’s behavior, so they can direct you to a qualified dog trainer or animal behaviorist and rule out any underlying medical issues.