Now that warmer weather is upon us, many of us will be hitting the trails. If you’re planning on bringing your pups along, now is a good time to brush up on your leash skills.
None of us enjoy being dragged down the trail by our over-stimulated pooch.
Here are 7 tips to help your dog walk nicely:
1. Do focus exercises indoors. Before you take it outside, play games like, “look at me” and “leave it.” A couple of videos by the awesome trainer at Kikopup, that demonstrate how to do these two games can be viewed here and here.
2. Take the focus exercises outdoors. Have your dog on leash in the back yard and practice “look at me” and “leave it” as you walk. Start off walking backwards so that you’re facing the dog, then turn once she’s focused on you.
3. Don’t walk in a strait line. Keep the leash loose and walk in a random pattern. If you’re constantly changing direction, your dog will be more focused on you. A second before you change direction, give a cue. This can be anything like a kissy sound or patting your leg.
4. Tight leash means stop. If at any point your dog walks ahead, and the leash gets tight, STOP. Wait for your dog to back up or release the tension and then continue walking.
5. Take treats. If you reward your dog for being beside you, she will be much more likely to stay there. Make sure you deliver the treat right next to your leg every time until she understands that that’s the only place she gets paid when on a walk.
6. Go sniff. Dogs need to stiff. That’s how they learn about the environment. If they are not allowed to sniff, especially when in a new place, it can be very stressful for them. If they are nervous about their surroundings, they will be less likely to listen to you. So put sniffing on cue by saying “go sniff” as they approach something like a bush or tree. Give them time to take it all in. Then say “let’s go” and pat your leg, when they come to your side reward them, and continue walking.
7. Talk to your dog. If your dog has your attention it will be more likely that you will have hers.
8. If the environment is too stressful for your dog, leave. The point of taking your dog is to have fun. Don’t force her into situations she’s uncomfortable in, and walking will be much more pleasant for you and your dog.
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