How To Walk Your Dog On The Leash
Some of the most common complaints I hear from my clients relate to their dog’s misbehavior while walking on a leash. The same issues seem to pop up over and over again:
- The dog is pulling hard on the leash and walks ahead of the owner
- The dog is too distracted
- The dog is constantly barking at everything
- The dog chases cars or bikes
- The dog doesn’t want to go on a walk at all
So, why is your dog acting this way on walks? To put it simply, he or she is too focused on everything but you and does not yet respect you as the leader.
The best way to address this behavior is to start communicating with your dog when you’re on a walk. Listening to music is great, but I suggest putting the headphones away until your dog is fully trained.
By following these simple steps, you can take the stress out of dog walking and actually start to enjoy it!
Step 1: Put your dog on a leash and, since he is probably jumping up and down with excitement at the mention of “walk”, wait for him to calm down. Give your dog a sit command and make sure he is always on your left side.
Step 2: Give your dog a heal command as you slowly take steps forward. If the dog runs past you or goes ahead of you, immediately turn and walk the opposite direction, giving the leash a very fast jerk and calling his name. By using this correction, you establish yourself as the leader and he becomes the follower. Keep applying this correction until your dog understands that his place is next to you or behind you while walking.
DO NOT yell, bend down, hit, or get frustrated in anyway. It’s important to stay assertive and firm, but relaxed at the same time. Imagine you are trying to assure someone who is having a panic attack. You would not yell at them, but instead you would lower your tone of voice and ask them gently to calm down. This same concept applies to your dog. Your goal is to calm him down when he is overly excited and the only way to do that is by staying relaxed.
Step 3: Pinpoint which situations trigger your dog’s misbehavior and try to avoid those external factors until your dog is successfully walking by your side. For example, avoid walking past other dogs or people if your dog has a tendency to lunge toward them.
Step 4: Take it easy on the leash. The leash is what connects you and your dog, so if you feel anxious or tense, the leash will transfer those feelings to your dog.
Step 5: After your dog has been walking by your side for an extended period of time, try putting your dog in situations that trigger his bad behavior. Walk by that neighbors house where your dog starts fence fighting with their dog, or have a friend ride by on their bike, all the while paying close attention to your dog’s body language. If your dog begins acting aggressively, direct your his attention to you by clapping your hands and quickly changing directions. Go back and repeat this step until your dog understands that you want him to remain calm and walk at your pace.
Step 6: Make your walk more challenging by incorporating sudden turns and changes of direction. This way, your dog cannot control how or where you walk.
By practicing these 6 steps, you will master dog walking in no time!