Our dogs love going out with us. They get to smell interesting things, make new friends, check out the sights and most importantly spend time with us. While, connecting with nature, bonding and exercise raises their spirits and ours too, there are many dogs who give their human parents a hard time during walks. That’s why it is important to teach your dogs basic leash skills. Leash training not just makes dog walking experience pleasant for both owners and dogs but also ensures safety of both.
Here are some important dog walking tips to make your walks more enjoyable.
Teaching a puppy to walk on leash
When it comes to leash training, it’s always good to start early. A young pup is not just able to learn things fast, but he/she is also less likely to learn negative behavior. Here are some tips to leash train a puppy:
- Start leash training your pup when he/she is hungry, so he’s motivated by hunger. It may feel like a cruel thing to do to your pup but you can always pamper your pooch once the training session is over.
- Hold the harness in your hand and let your pup sniff it. Give him a treat when he sniffs the harness so that he makes a positive association with the harness. Make sure to repeat this at least five times.
- Next, lay the harness over his neck or back and give him a treat. Repeat this exercise five times. Note: Only give treats when you put the harness on; not when you take it off.
- Gradually, start increasing the time the harness stays on your pup’s back. Don’t forget the treats. Then try to distract your dog from the feeling of having the harness on his back by playing games with him. This way he will get used to it.
- After the harness acclimation training sessions, attach the leash and let your pup walk around with it. Distract him with treats, games etc. Leave it on for a couple of minutes then remove. Repeat this exercise for a few days so that your pup gets used to walking around with leash.
- After your pup gets used to leash, pick up the leash and start walking him. Take a few steps and then stop. When your pup looks at you, give him a treat. Then again start walking, stop and reward your pup when he looks at you.
- Next step is to take your pup outside, possibly in a quiet distraction free area. Let him just observe the surroundings. Let him see and explore the ‘new world’ around him. Then start walking again and let him sniff in between.
- If he starts pulling; stop moving. You just need to teach them to walk with a loose leash. Keep the first walks short.
- Then gradually move to busier places. If he lunges at other people and dogs; try to distract him. Reward him when he stops and follows you.
- The more you practice, the more your pup will improve.
Tips for walking adult dogs
If you have an adult dog that refuses to walk on leash; here are some tricks you can use to get him to walk like a good boy:
- Choose a quiet place to train your dog because surrounding noises can distract your dog. Also, have some treats handy.
- Choose a leash which is both long and light. If your dog has a habit of pulling, buy a martingale collar so that he doesn’t slip out of it.
- Choose a signal that lets your dog know what is expected of him. You can use a phrase like, ‘let’s go’ and begin walking. If your dog starts pulling; stop immediately. This way you will teach your dog that the only way to get to where he wants to go is by leaving some slack in the leash.
- As soon as you notice slack in the leash; begin walking again. Reward him when he looks at you and behaves like a good boy. By doing this, you are teaching your dog that it is rewarding to pay attention to you.
- Gradually move to busier areas. If your dog lunges at other people distract him and reward him when he looks at you. Be patient as the bad habits take time to go away. You can even ask your friend for assistance if needed
- Practice a lot. This will take time, patience and lots of efforts from you.
General tips for all the dog owners
- Give your dog little ‘sniff breaks’ between walks. This will give him mental stimulation and he will make the walks meaningful and enriching to your dog.
- Avoid retractable leashes. With retractable leashes, you don’t have much control over your dog.
- Always clean up after your dog. Dogs’ poop contains E. coli, giardia, hookworms, roundworms, and salmonella that can spread to other animals and humans.
- If you are going out for more than half an hour or if the weather outside is too hot, carry water bottle with you to keep your pet hydrated.
- Every time you leave your house with your dog, make sure he/she is wearing an identification tag. You can even consider microchipping your dog. This will be very helpful if your dog manages to escape and gets lost.
- When the days are very hot, avoid walking your dog in the afternoon. You can also consider walking your dog in a park or in the woods.
- If you walk your dog at night, make him wear something reflective to avoid mishaps. This will allow the drivers to see you from a distance.
Dog walking is packed with mental and physical health benefits for both canines and humans, which should be reason enough for you to do it. So, keep the above tips in mind, hook up the leash and happy walking!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Anoop Nain is a proud father of four rescued dogs and two Flemish giant rabbits. Besides being a full-time dog father, he is a freelance content writer/blogger and an educationist, with more than 6 years experience in the field of content writing.