1. A good dog walk begins with a calm dog.
Do you get your little dog excited for a walk by jingling the leash or excitedly saying something like, “Who wants to go for a walk!” As cute as seeing your pup excited for a walk, it’s setting the wrong tone for the walk. This is especially true if your little dog pulls on the leash.
You want to keep your pre-walk energy low to help keep your little dog calm. When kneeling to put your pup’s harness or collar on, let the dog come to you. Once the leash is connected, give your pup some quiet praise and gentle petting. The goal is to have a lovely calm dog before you walk out the door.
By the way, be sure you’re nice and calm as well. If you’re trying to rush in a quick dog walk before dinner or going out somewhere, your dog will pick up on that energy.
2. Keep your dog from dragging you out the door.
With your little furry friend calm, relaxed, and leashed, the next step in the dog stroll is walking out the door. If your pup is barking, spinning, or scratching the door trying to get out, stand still until the dog stops and sits. The goal is to get your little dog calm and settled so you can walk out the door without your dog or dogs pulling you. This is especially important if you must go down steps when you walk out the door.
If your dog bolts out the door as soon as you start to open it, call them back inside and try again. Getting your pup to stroll out the door may take a few tries, but people-pleasing dogs will quickly figure out what they need to do to get the walk started.
3. Let’s put the brakes on your dog’s leash pulling.
If you have a dog that pulls on the leash, your instinct might be to pull back. But, when you pull on your pup’s leash, what happens? The dog pulls back. It’s not to be defiant; it’s because the dog’s opposition reflex takes over.
If your little dog is wearing a collar instead of a harness, all that pulling pressure is hard on their throat and can lead to further issues with a collapsed trachea. What is a collapsed trachea?
Dr. Brian Evans, CEO of dutch, explains, “A collapsed trachea is a common disorder in small breeds that is either present at birth or acquired later in life. Traditional collars can cause further irritation and cough for those suffering from a collapsed trachea. Using a harness is best to avoid unnecessary repetitive pressure in the neck area.”
So how do you stop your dog from pulling on the leash? Here’s one training technique you can try. With your dog on a leash, take ten steps in one direction and then call your dog’s name; turn and walk in the opposite direction. When the dog changes direction and the leash is loose, give your pup praise and a treat for a good job. The reward is for the loose leash, not turning. So time your credit and treat accordingly.
Practice this a few times a week for about five minutes. Be sure to vary directions and make your moves unpredictable so your dog stays focused on following you. You’re the pack leader, and this exercise will help you walk your dog without leash pulling. Be patient. Be consistent. It may take a few days, and it may take a few weeks. Every dog is different, and the key is consistency.
4. Give your dog time to sniff the flowers or fire hydrant.
Why do dogs sniff so much? Think of a dog sniffing a mailbox post like you scrolling through Facebook. By inhaling, your dog is getting updates on what’s happening in the neighborhood. Your dog can use his powerful nose to determine which dogs were in that same spot, how long it’s been since another dog was around, or whether other animals are nearby. Processing all of those scents provides needed mental stimulation for dogs.
So how do you keep your furry friend from sniffing everything in sight? A straightforward way is to choose a few dedicated sniffing spots along your regular walking route where you can let your pup take in all the smells.
When your pup stops sniffing in a non-sniffing zone, use your version of “leave it” to direct your dog away from sniffing and back to walking. You can also use your body to guide your dog away from places he wants to sniff. Let’s say you’re approaching a neighbor’s mailbox, and your dog starts pulling toward the mailbox, have your pup stop and sit. Then get yourself in position so you’re between your dog and the mailbox, blocking the dog’s path and redirecting him away from the mailbox.
When your dog walks away from the no sniff spot, praise him for a job well done.
5. Mix up where you walk your dog.
Dogs thrive on routines. Just like humans, they can get bored with the same old. They are mixing up where you walk suits you and your small dog. Even if you’re walking in a different part of the neighborhood, you’ll see new sights and maybe other neighbors. Your pup will have exciting new scents to sort through.
Maybe pick a few days a month to take your dog someplace new to walk, such as a park, downtown, or a nearby walking trail. You and your pup will enjoy the change in scenery and find walking in a new location with fresh scents will give your dog necessary physical and mental stimulation.
Wishing you many happy dogs walks together.