Before you got your dog, I’m sure you’ve seen neighbors walk their own pets. And most of the time, we see disciplined, calm animals quietly walking by their owners’ side. And we thought that this would be an easy task to perform. Walk your dog, and he’ll walk happily next to you through the entire trip.
Well, imagine our surprise when it did not work out quite like we expected it to!
Pulling And Tugging
When we started taking Mochi for walks, we noticed that he would pull and tug at his leash pretty much the entire time we were walking him. And no amount of entreaties or pulling back would stop him from taking us where he wanted to go, at the pace and stamina he wanted to walk. Essentially, he was setting the terms for our trips outside.
And this could not be good, for him, and for us. Our arms would hurt from all the effort of trying to hold him back. He is, after all, a 60+ pound dog, and he’s very strong-willed. And I can’t imagine that it was easy on him too, what with all the strain he is exerting on his neck by pulling at the leash through the entire walk.
And this scenario gets worst when we encounter squirrels on our trips! And there are many! They are all over the place. And Mochi just wants to get at them, with all his strength, he wants to chase after every single one he meets on the way! And we’ve tried changing leashes, from the standard, 6-feet nylons to the retractable types that were supposed to hold 100-pound dogs, which he chewed into pieces in a matter of weeks. He almost dragged my wife Gigi a few times with his sudden bursts of energy!
Something had to change.
Why Do We Walk Our Pets
First off, we needed to understand why we were walking our pets, to begin with. And the easy and obvious answer is, to exercise them! And that is true enough. But for new pets, especially puppies, remember that the “outside” is a whole new experience for them. It will bombard their senses with so many new things that will serve both to stimulate, and distract them!
So, for younger dogs, we need to think things through first. We need to get them used to the idea of walking on a leash. And that means, introducing them to the task indoors, first, where the environment is familiar to them, where there may be fewer interruptions, and you basically control the environment they’re in. You both can concentrate on the training at hand. It is only after your pet has somewhat got used to the idea of walking while leashed, that you slowly introduce him to the concept of “outside.”
Another thing you may need to do before you take them out is to burn that excess energy first before you take your pet walking. Now, that might sound contradictory to the entire purpose of walking your dog, but remember, they’re new to this, so, using the walk as an exercise, at this point, should really be the secondary goal. The goal is to have a calm pet, and getting there means burning off that excess energy before you go on your walk.
If you have a backyard, I would recommend playing with your dog for 20-30 minutes before taking him out. Or play with them indoors. Do whatever you can to burn off some of that fun off of them before you introduce them to an environment full of distractions! And while they will still be distracted, especially if they are not yet that fully trained on walking on a leash, you will notice that they won’t have as much energy to run after those pesky squirrels!
Rewarding A Good Deed
As with any training regimen, rewards play a vital role in reinforcing what has been taught and learned. Every time your pet shows any kind of learning, you reward that. No matter how small. It matters! This is their only way to know that they’re doing the right thing.
And again, treats don’t need to be fancy. We’ve discussed this before. You can make your own treats, from pieces of chicken, beef or turkey meat you have in the house. You do not need to spend extra just to train your pet. Owning a pet is expensive enough. You don’t need to go overboard! Besides, home-prepared treats and meals are great! I now Mochi seem to enjoy the home-cooked meals more than the store-bought kinds. We at least we try to alternate his meals so he gets a variety and does not get bored. And believe me, they do get bored with repeated meals!
Also, rewards need not always mean food treats. You can show your appreciation through pats, verbal praises, eye contacts. Your dogs enjoy your company as much as you enjoy theirs. And they appreciate every little bit of attention you show them!
A Short Video Lesson From Zak George
We’ve talked about Zak George before and how we find his YouTube videos on dog training to be a perfect fit for us. And we want to share those relevant videos that we think will really help you in training your pets. This one is specific to the problem of dogs pulling on their leash when you’re walking them. We hope you find it as useful as we did.
We hope you enjoyed this post! And if you have any comments, please feel free to share them below! We would love to hear from you!