Some dog owners get pulled down the street while others practically get their arm ripped off when their Labrador Retriever or other breed of dog sees another dog on the street. Walking your dog may not be easy at this very moment but with a little work and a lot of love, your beloved canine companion can be a joy to walk with no matter where you go. Here are 10 helpful training tips master the skill of walking your dog and have a well-mannered pup.
- Use prong collars when absolutely necessary. Using a prong collar during your walks is not a bad thing when the prong collar is used correctly. If all other collars and harnesses fail, then they may be used for dog walking training only as they are safe. Our own Labrador Retrievers are trained to be off-leash during walks but do wear prong collars from time to time to reinforce their training and manners on walks. Just having the collar on, even when not attached to a leash, makes them more mindful of their manners and our authority.
- Always walk side by side with your dog. Never allow your pup to lead the way, as this is a sign of dominance to the dog. The leader is always in charge as long as you are not enjoying the view; your dog will remain in charge and pull you down the street to assert their authority. Use a treat in hand or just wear a treat bag along your walk to keep all the attention focused on you and where you want the pup to be during the walk.
- Never lengthen or shorten the leash. Your dog leash should be the same length at all times. This will teach her that she is only allowed a certain distance from you. Retractable leashes should never be used during dog walks (until they are fully trained) as they allow free range and authority over the walk. Plus, most Labrador Retrievers and other large breed dogs can easily break retractable leashes.
- Don’t give into pulling on the leash. If your dog pulls you in a direction, give a snap back on the leash towards you. Pay attention to the queues your dog is giving you and you will be able to foresee any pulling. However, if your dog tries to take off, hold your ground – plant your feet in the ground, lean back and don’t move! Lowering your center of gravity will offset your dog and give her a good jolt. If there is something near you, like a fence or tree, grab onto it and reel your pup back to you.
- Only walk when your dog stops pulling on the leash. The lack in the lead will be your signal that it is good to continue on with the walk. As long as she is keeping the leash tight, hold your ground.
- Pull over to the side to let people pass. When someone is coming towards you, move your dog over to the side and have them sit. Then step in front of her and face her while the other person passes. This tells your dog that she must be submissive to other people and that you are claiming right to those other people by standing between her and the person while facing her. When the person has passed, you praise your dog and continue on with the walk. As time goes on, you can do this with a dog passing.
- Ignore other people and things that scare your dog. If you give no attention to those things that may grab your dog’s attention, she will start to realize that it is not important to be interested in it. If a dog is passing across the street, keep walking and ignore it. If she pulls towards the street, keep walking straight and pull her along. After a while, she will see the other dog but it will no longer interest her.
- Give praise and talk to your dog throughout your walk. If your dog is walking by your side, give her a small treat and praise. This is also a great time to reinforce training by giving commands such as “leave it” or directional commands. During our own walks, we will instruct our Labradors to leave things they are smelling (or about to eat) as well as “stop” on corners (where they will stop and sit), “left” and “right” when we are turning a corner or “wait” to slow down (if they are off lead and a little too far away from us).