Getting Ready to Walk The Dog
What is it like in your house when you are getting ready to walk the dog?
Does your dog know that you are leaving before you do? Does your dog even care? Do you have to wrestle him to the ground to put the leash on? Do you feel like a lion tamer at the circus as soon as she sees you go remotely close to the leash?
Taking your dog for a walk is always the highlight of your dog’s day. They get to spend time with you and perhaps sniff a few bushes along the way. Getting to that point is sometimes a challenge however. Dogs very much enjoy walks and for this reason can get very excited to the point of jumping and barking uncontrollably, extending the time it takes to get ready and perhaps shortening the walk.
Here are some quick tips to help “get your dog ready” for a walk.
The only time some of us touch the leash is when we get ready for a walk, which signals to the dog a walk is coming. Pick up and play with the leash at times when you are not going for a walk so your dog doesn’t associate the leash with going for a walk right away and anticipate by getting excited.
Put the leash on after your dog has settled down. If calmer behavior leads to the walk happening faster, your dog will learn to settle before putting the leash on.
Cue your dog to sit and the leash is attached only when sitting.
My Norwegian Elkhound Jack used to get very excited before his walk and made putting on his front clip harness almost impossible. To help this I would take Jack into the laundry room and shut the door.
These are the steps I took next:
- I put his harness on the floor in front of him.
- I cued Jack to “down” with front legs on the harness.
- While in a down I would slide the harness on.
- If he got up I didn’t say “no” or “down” again, I simply put the harness back up on the hook.
To Jack this meant the walk is now further away and he learned to settle down so I could get his harness and leash on. Because Jack is trained pretty well in obedience I was able to achieve this with little use of treats as reinforcement.
What I did use was his love of walks as reinforcement in order to get the calm behavior I wanted before we headed out.
~This professional dog trainer tip brought to you by Mike Brand