By Katelyn Schutz, CPDT
Have a pooch that stops dead in their tracks on a walk when they’ve had enough? How about a pup who is skittish on walks, and tries to back out of your adventure? Try these helpful tips to keep your doggie moving forward!
Hire a professional dog walker. Your professional dog walker should be experienced and skilled at handling any leash behaviors, whether it be stubbornness, or legitimate fear. Professional dog walking services can make walks more fun for your bullheaded Bulldog, or increase confidence in your fretful Fido. Communicate your training protocols to your professional dog walker, so they can remain consistent and help further along your canine’s leash manners.
Teach a hand target. A simple “touch” command, where your dog learns to tap it’s nose to your open hand, is great for getting a willful dog to come forward. The hand target acts as a lure, allowing your dog to choose to come forward (instead of being forced). Whether your dog is acting afraid or defiant, a “touch” command makes moving forward fun and positive. Start simple in a quiet distraction-free environment with plenty of good reinforcements. Present an open hand close to your dog, and wiggle your fingers so the movement attracts your dog to come sniff your hand. The moment you feel snout on your hand, mark the behavior with a prompt “Yes! Good dog!” and administer a reinforcement (treat, praise, petting, toys, whatever suits your dog’s fancy). If your dog seems to be struggling, try rubbing a stinky treat on your hand, to entice your dog’s nose to come towards the scent. Once you’ve practiced and your dog is proficient at a “touch” command, you can now lure your dog forward anytime they put on the brakes! Be sure to show your professional dog walker how you execute this command, so they can practice out on walks too!
Listen to your dog. Maybe it’s too hot or too cold outside. Perhaps your pooch is feeling overwhelmed and scared of something they see ahead. Consider that he or she may be stiff, sore, or not feeling well. Arthritis and other medical conditions can cause a dog not to want to walk. Your knowledgeable professional dog walker should be able to detect when your dog isn’t itself, and will communicate these concerns to you. Pay attention if your dog doesn’t “seem right” on a walk — they may be trying to tell you something.