It’s true that our dogs are like members of the family. Often they sit with us to watch TV, or they sleep with us, or some dog owner even let their pups eat with them. Sometimes, though, that blurring of lines can be a problem. Dog walking, for instance, shouldn’t be an equal power relationship, nor should the dog be pulling the dog walker along the route. No, the dog should be trotting along beside the owner and following instructions. The leash should be loose, and everyone should be following the same pace. It doesn’t naturally happen this way though. Training your dog to walk is just like training your dog to sit, stay, and shake a paw. It takes practice and technique to make sure your dog walking experience is a calm and enjoyable one. Here are some tips that will work from a professional Chicago dog walker.
There are some tools that you’ll need before you get started. First off, make sure you have a long leash. 6 feet usually works best, so you can get the pup used to a loose leash before you bring them in closer. You should also have lots of small treats for rewards, and a buckle collar. Harnesses and prong collars are not recommended for training.
This may sound counterintuitive, but some of the best work you can do to train your pup for dog walking with a loose leash is without a leash at all. Hopefully you have a fenced in yard for this, but if not it can be done in a hallway or a large room. To start, walk around the house without paying attention to or acknowledging your dog. After a minute, call for them and act extremely excited for them to come. When they do come, give them one of the treats as a reward.
Keep walking, and stay excited about having them at your side. Give them a treat every few steps to keep them interested. After a bit, start ignoring them again, and then repeat the process. The goal is that they begin to see that if they walk with the dog walker, they will get rewarded.
On The Walk Exercise
The next step us working with them while out on a walk. Usually dogs pull because they want to go faster, or they want to get to something (the bushes, another dog) off the path. If your dog pulls, reverse direction and walk backwards while calling for your dog in an excited way, like you did in the off-leash exercise. Of course, reward them when they come. Then, go forward again. If they come with you, reward them every few steps. Of course, if your pooch pulls again, then repeat the process. As your dog progresses and starts figuring out what you’re trying to get them to do, gradually increase the amount of time it takes before they are rewarded. While the amount of time is different for every dog, they should eventually learn to walk with you. At that point, you can randomly reward them so they never know when it’s coming. If you’re not able to work with your dog every day, check the average dog walker rates and hire a dog walker to work with your pooch for you.
Getting your dog to walk with you is one of the most important skills to build a healthy relationship with your dog. Work hard with them, or check the average dog walker rates and have someone help you, to make your walks more pleasant and calm.