By Katelyn Schutz, CPDT
Hire a professional dog walker. Your professional dog walker and pet sitter should be skilled and able to execute your training protocols during our visits with your pup. Communicate with your professional dog walker, so that they can remain consistent with your training style, and help your dog generalize it’s commands and skills. Hiring a professional dog walking service will help your pooch learn that he or she needs to walk politely for any human, not just their own.
Find an A+ reinforcer to bring on your walks, and only on your walks. Out on a walk, there is an entire world of distractions for your pooch. By bringing a unique, special reinforcer that they don’t get any other time, it gives your dog incentive to pay attention to you during all those distractions. Don’t forget to leave your pooch’s favorite snacks out for your professional dog walker and pet sitter to use during visits!
Ask for basic commands frequently, for no reason at all. Practice makes perfect. If your dog can’t sit at a simple street corner, how do you expect him to sit when another dog is walking past him? Turn walking time into training time, and let your dog earn rewards for good behaviors. Encourage sitting at every street corner, and practice patience and impulse control with intermittent “wait” or “stay” commands. I like to reward “check-ins”, which is when my dog chooses to turn around and pay attention to me, all on his own without being prompted. This increases the likelihood of your dog “checking in” with you during distractions while out and about. Tell your professional dog walker what commands you are practicing on the walk, so they can do the same!
When your dog pulls, stop dead in your tracks. If going forward is the reward, take away that privilege when your dog pulls. They are no longer allowed to go towards that fascinating tree, if they are tugging on the lead. This will teach them if they keep the leash loose, they can actually have more freedom to sniff and explore!
Utilize better walking equipment. Ask your professional dog walker for their advice on the best type of collars and leashes. Walking dogs every day, we are well-versed in the equipment, and can share our favorite and most successful tools. For example, a front clip harness (Easy Walk), a head alter (Gentle Leader), or a martingale style collar are preferred for humane, safe control while walking your pup. Consider a waist leash for hands-free (and care-free!) walking. Perhaps add a doggy backpack with some weights in it for an added work-out to reduce pulling.