It can be pretty entertaining watching a dog owner walk an untrained dog. I can only say that because I walk two untrained dogs and can only imagine people’s thoughts as I untangle myself from leashes, curse, and look like I’ve been through a tornado. While we think it’s humorous because we can relate, the owner in the moment…not so much.
It’s extremely frustrating trying to walk dogs while not being pulled at warp speed, cutting the circulation off to your fingers, and not realizing your poop bag flew away in the wind.
Dogs need to be taught how to walk on a leash. People need to be taught how to teach dogs to walk on a leash. If you think you’re going to walk out the door and enjoy a stress-free stroll down the street with your pup, think again.
The first thing you do is put on your patience hat and let the training begin. Oh, a few deep breaths and realizing this is all part of the pet parent journey, will help you from checking into a mental hospital, unless you’re already checked-in because of your kids.
Below are issues you commonly see with dog walking and solutions to becoming a dog walking master.
If you’re wondering if this entire piece is about pulling, it is. Why? If you can change the pulling behavior, aside from being a genius, you’ll also solve a lot of other problems.
Pulling makes for a very stressful, and at times, a torturous walk with your dog. A squirrel runs by and forget it, before you know it, you’re being dragged down the street hoping no one witnessed the horror. Oh, and it hurts! I have the scrapes and bruises to prove it.
If someone was walking you and a Christian Louboutin shoe walked by with a sale sign attached to it, wouldn’t you haul a$$ to get a piece of that? I guess squirrels are a hot commodity as well.
Why do dogs pull?
- They aren’t trained not to.
- Environmental distractions they find exciting.
- You don’t have the proper walking gear to aid you.
- Pulling gets your dog where it wants to go.
- To punish you for not sharing your steak dinner last night.
Many people avoid walks if they can when their dogs are pullers. I can relate. It’s less taxing to play in the yard than go on a walk, knowing you’re about to get injured and irritated. Walking with your dog can create great bonding moments and if you’re staying away because your dog isn’t trained, you’re missing out.
Have you ever passed someone whose dog is super trained and doesn’t even acknowledge your presence? Yeah, those people are my heroes. Trying to keep a dog, if not multiple dogs, from pulling every which way is super frustrating and makes it easy to give up.
When I see another dog coming my way, my heart starts to race as I brace for impact from my two nuts. If your dogs like to play, every dog it sees is going to be a possible playmate, especially if it’s the same breed. First of all, if you don’t know the other dog, it can be aggressive. Second, when two leashes get tied up, safety issues come up, especially when you’re near traffic.
Any distraction can set a dog off and for an owner, it can be really scary, especially if the dog is large. You and that squirrel are both scared to death and just want to make it stop.
If you just use a basic collar and leash, you’re doing yourself and your dog a disservice. Imagine if your neck was being pulled all the time? It’s dangerous for your dog and doesn’t give you any control.
Many owners take it personally and get annoyed with their dog when it pulls. Dogs don’t pull to get a rise out of you or to purposely misbehave. Many owners don’t realize if you’re behind your dog on walks and they’re pulling you’re teaching them to pull even more. How? Think about it. When they pull you, they’re getting to their destination quicker, so basically, getting their way.
How can you fix these pulling issues?
Taking the time and effort to train your dog the right way will lead to an enjoyable experience where you’re the boss. It’s okay to admit you need outside help like a professional dog trainer.
Don’t let your dog get away with anything. If someone sees your dog and wants to get jumped on and is overly excited, let them know your dog’s in training and it’s nothing personal. I admit that sometimes I’m that person when I see an adorable dog. My apologies to all of you who lost a finger or three when I untrained your dog.
In terms of what type of walking paraphernalia to buy, Dogster.com says “no pull harnesses and head halters are generally the best equipment for managing the pulling behavior while you train for polite walking.” It’s not a quick fix though. Training needs to accompany these items.
Harnesses are very helpful and definitely decrease the pulling. Head halters are fantastic, however, people will think it’s a muzzle, fear your dog, and stay away, which actually might come in handy when training. It’s all about education.
I will warn you that you pretty much need a Ph.D. to figure out how to put some of these mechanisms on your dog, but once you get it, you get it.
If your dog’s pulling on your walk, stop walking and tighten the leash. In other words, turn yourself into a tree, as they say. Stand very still and refuse to move until your dog comes back to you. Some have a lot of luck with it and others, not so much. It’s a method that works well for puppies but if your dog has been pulling for a long time, it may not be effective. This technique needs to be combined with reinforcement for the appropriate walking behavior, says Dogster.com.
Another method of keeping your dog from walking ahead is to give them a reason to stay with you. Bringing some treats on your walk is a great incentive and teaching tool until the behavior is learned.
Whatever techniques you choose, stick with it. When you see the difference, you’ll wonder what took you so long. Always remember positive reinforcement…for the dog too.
Hope You Enjoyed the Read!