All dogs love to go for walks, but sometimes their excitement can ruin the walk for both of you. Pulling, dragging, excessive sniffing, and chasing after distractions can turn what should be a fun activity for you and your pup into a frustrating chore. But fear not, Nicole is here to help!
We’re going to start our walk training by teaching your dog how to heel, which means follow you closely by your side. Watch as Nicole teaches her puppy Rossi how to heel in the video above.
Trainer Tip: Remember to take your time and be patient. Start by rewarding your dog when they stand by your side, then begin to say the “heel” command, and then slowly fade out the hand cue.
When your out on a walk, use the heel command to keep your dog by your side.
“Watch me” is a great command that you can use in a variety of situations. When you’re out on a walk, use “watch me” to get your dog’s attention—if you think your dog is about to start pulling, use the “watch me” command to bring his attention back to you.
If you’re out on a walk and your dog starts to pull towards a distraction, move away from the disturbance and give your dog either a heel or “watch me” command. If your dog starts to pull and there is no distraction, change directions until the dog is no longer pulling, and then attempt to refocus. You may be changing directions a lot at first, but that’s okay—be sure to praise and reward the good non-pulling moments, even if they short at first.
While you’re teaching your dog not to pull, you should use a four-foot or six-foot leash. Use whichever width and material that feel comfortable to you.
Extendable leashes and leashes longer than six feet are great for exercising dogs, but they don’t work well if you’re trying to teach your dog not to pull on leash.
Lastly, if you’re still struggling with a puller, many dog owners find success with a no-pull harness. Nicole recommends harnesses that don’t go across the shoulders, since these can restrict your dog’s movement.
Some dogs seem reluctant to walk on leash. Instead of pulling, they freeze or turn around and pull back toward home. Often these dogs are fearful, and they need help feeling comfortable when walking on leash.
It will help to walk your dog in less frightening environments at first. Instead of walking on a busy road, opt for a quiet residential street or a path through the park. Gradually progress to busier areas as your dog develops confidence in quieter places.