Did you know that the way you start your walks with your dog can set a precedent to how your walks will go? If you allow your dog to pull you out the door at the beginning of your walk, it is more likely your dog will pull you during the entirety of your walk. Consequently, it will take that much longer to gain their attention. I quickly learned that if I allowed a dog to jump all over me while putting on their leash, or allowed them to pull me out the door, it took me and my furry companion much longer to get anywhere without them pulling.
I’m not sure about you, but I do not find walking a dog that pulls me to be fun, at all. One of the first things that I do when training one of our Board and Train or Day Train dogs is teach them impulse control before going on a walk. The reason for this is to start our walks off smooth from the start.
How to start your walks off on the right paw:
- Recognize your dog’s triggers. What gets them excited before their walk? I find the moment I pick up the leash or harness, grab my walking shoes, or grab my treat bag, the dogs get excited.
- Desensitize your dog to these triggers. Randomly grab what triggers your dog, but do not go on a walk. This may seem cruel; in fact, my husband calls this the high low game. The pups have the high of seeing their walking equipment coming out but then the low of not going anywhere. This will help prevent your dog from getting overly excited when they see their walking equipment.
- Ask your dog to ‘go settle’ or ‘go mat’ and ‘stay’. Put your dog’s leash or harness on when they are on their ‘settle’ spot.
- When your dog is staying calmly on their ‘settle spot’, grab your shoes and equipment. If your dog gets off their ‘settle spot’, you can easily guide them back to their spot with their leash instead of chasing them around the house to put them back on their ‘settle spot’.
- When you are ready, release your dog from their ‘settle spot’. Walk to the door, ask your dog to ‘sit stay’ when you open the door. Walk out the door first as your dog remains in the stay. Then, release your dog from their stay. When they walk out the door, immediately ask them to ‘sit’. This will prevent them from pulling you down the driveway with excitement.
- The key here is to be consistent, even at the end of a long day when you are tired. Your consistency will pay off.
I have found when my dogs are calm when walking out the door, they are much more attentive to me and less likely to pull from the start. This makes walking with my dogs much more enjoyable.