The idea of walking your dog sounds pleasant, relaxing, and fun for you both. But the reality is sometimes a little more stressful — especially if your dog pulls on its leash or reacts to other animals or people.
Behavior and Training Lead Katie Heathcote has some quick tips to make walking your dog a literal walk in the park.
- Motivate your dog to walk past distractions or stay near you with treats they enjoy. Being consistent with your praise will teach them they’re doing the right thing. When you stop or are inconsistent, your dog will get confused about what is good behavior and what isn’t. Rewarding your dog also teaches them to be a problem solver as they’ll continue to do whatever gets them treats!
- Manage pulling with a gentle leader or harness with a front clip. If you feel your dog pull, that’s your cue to stop walking and wait for them to come back to you before moving forward.
- Manage dog reactivity and stress by creating space or a using a visual barrier like a parked car. Barking or lunging is a dog’s way of telling you they’re uncomfortable. Take them around the corner or create a visual barrier to separate them from the source of their fear or anxiety.
- Sniffing is a mental workout. It helps release your dog’s anxiety. Try letting them take you for a walk, following wherever their nose takes you (as long as it’s safe).
Remember, when it comes to walking well on a leash, you need to set your dog up for success. Rewards are super important to minimize distractions and reinforce the good behaviors they’re learning. For more training tips and tricks, check out our Pet Behavior Library or stop by a training class!