Getting your pup to stay behaved while walking outside may feel like one of the more challenging aspects of being a pet owner. He may listen well while you're inside the house, but the moment you step outside, all of that obedience goes out the window. It's like as soon as he smells the fresh air, hears dogs barking in the distance, and sees the grass and trees waiting to be sniffed, that you don't exist anymore or something.
But let's be honest, who wouldn't get distracted by all of that if they weren't trained? Between threatening to pull your arm off, and not listening altogether, you may feel that pulling your hair out sounds like a better alternative to taking your pup on regular walks around the neighborhood. Well, don't despair; all hope isn't lost. There are ways to control your dog while he's walking on a leash by following the guidelines below:
Acclimate Your Dog to the Leash
If you have a backyard for your pup to run around in and your dog isn't used to being on a leash, it will take a bit for her to get used to the feeling. No dog is going to walk perfectly on the leash the first time you "hook them up" so the more time you can spend with your dog getting used to being on the leash, the better. The more you can get your dog accustomed to walking on the leash, the easier it will be to control her on walks later.
The leash provides a specific parameter for her to walk within and after incorporating walks into your routine, she will learn exactly where her boundaries are. As a general rule of thumb, it is best to use a simple leash with your dog versus a retractable one. Retractable leashes may seem like they would be easier to walk your dog with, but they will just confuse her. If they're one length for one walk, and another length the next, it becomes difficult for your dog to understand where her boundaries are and may increase the chances of her pulling on the leash.
Keep Your Dog on One Side of You
If you keep your dog on one side of you when you go on walks, it should prevent him from zig-zagging from side to side to smell trees and different patches of grass while on your walks. The key to this step is staying consistent.
Your dog isn't going to know to stay on the right side of you if you only make him walk on that side every few times that you take him on a walk. If you're concerned about which side to walk your dog on, it doesn't matter too terribly much - as long as you stay consistent! Do whatever feels comfortable for you. If you're right-handed, try keeping your pup to the left of you, and keep the leash in your right hand.
Make Sure Your Dog is Focused on You
Like we stated above, there is a lot for a dog to get distracted with while walking around outside. All the new sights and smells, and potentially people and other animals - it's a lot to take in. If you make sure your dog's attention stays on you during the walks, it makes it much easier to control him, no matter what the two of you encounter.
If you're walking with your dog and you notice her attention is concentrated on something other than you, it is imperative that you get that focus back. You can do this through a variety of methods. One way of redirecting her attention is just to change the direction that you're walking in - out of sight, out of mind. Another method would be to make your dog sit and wait until she looks at you. Once she does this, you can reward her with a treat.
Problems with Pulling?
If your dog relentlessly pulls on the leash every time you take him out, there are a few things you can try to get him to stop. One of the most effective things you can do is to stop and stand still. It might frustrate your pup at first, but once he realizes he's not going anywhere without you with him, he will settle down.
It's best to wait until your dog is in a more relaxed state to proceed on your walk. This may mean having to wait until your dog sits or lays down to continue on your walk. It will not help to try to pull your dog in the direction that you want him to go, or to yank him to come with you. This process can make the first few walks an exercise in patience, but they are an effective way at training your dog to stop pulling. He will learn that he gets to move on only when he is relaxed, and you will thank yourself for the training later.