Walking your pup daily is a must and is meant to be an enjoyable activity for both you and your dog. But for some dog owners, it’s a stressful and overwhelming experience. Unchecked behavioral issues, such as barking, lunging or excessive leash pulling, can make a one-block loop feel like a hundred miles of dread.
At Fitdog, we have heard many stories of owners avoiding humans and dogs by taking obscure walking routes, walking at odd times of day, or having to constantly cross the street. After trying a dozen leashes, reading every article on Cesar Milan, and attending group obedience classes, owners come away without improvement and feel defeated. In extreme cases, dog owners start to skip walks altogether (causing another host of issues) and even decide to give up their dog.
Fear not! These behaviors can be corrected, but not in the way that you might expect. An obedience class is not going to solve a behavioral problem. How a dog walks on-leash is more about you and less about the dog.
Before throwing in the “leash,” try these tips for walking your dog:
- Set up a consultation with a dog behavioral trainer. Not all dog trainers are experienced in behavioral modification, so make sure to ask about outcomes for similar cases.
- Be prepared to make changes at home. Behavioral issues can stem from lack of exercise and mental stimulation to how and when you feed your dog.
- Learn to speak “dog.” Dogs communicate through body language. Your verbal and physical cues might be contradicting each other and therefore confusing your dog. For example, you are verbally telling your dog to heel, but your posture is telling him to go.
- Tone and delivery are everything. Dogs respond to short, quick commands, not phrases. Instead of “Noooo, noo, nooo, don’t do that! Bad boy.” You are going to learn to say, “Charlie, OFF!” or “Charlie, Leave-it.” You’ll be surprised how quickly your dog will learn and respond to these phrases.
- Stay present. In other words, put your phone away. By observing what triggers your dog’s undesirable behaviors, you’ll be able to more easily correct it.
- Treat Each Walk Like a Training Session. Did you know dogs are more likely to retain 15-minute lessons than long training sessions? That means your walks are the perfect opportunity to reinforce your dog’s training! Give your dog verbal cues, have patience, and reward good behavior- your walks will start to improve!
- Practice “Red Light/ Green Light.” This exercise is a great way to get your dog to stop pulling. When the leash is tight and your dog is pulling, stop walking and freeze. When the leash is loose, reward your dog with forward movement and praise them.
Check out more of our dog walking tips in The Bark! Read more here.
Join Our Loose Leash Walking Workshop!
Fitdog offers some tools to help jump-start a positive walking experience. The first is signing up for our Loose Leash Walking program. It’s an affordable way to get the one-on-one training your dog needs, and your dog can be trained while you’re at work. Have a more difficult case? Call us to set up a consultation with one of our behavioral modification trainers.
Don’t give up! With the right help from the right trainer, you will regain your life back and be able to walk your dog without fear.
Original post updated on Jan 19, 2021.