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Walk Your Dog

Posted In: Behavior & Training, Canine Health & Wellness

January is Walk Your Pet Month! Often times dogs don’t get taken on walks because the they don’t have good leash-walking skills. When leash walking is no longer fun for the human, the dog is put out in the yard or tethered and doesn’t get to experience the joy of taking a walk.

To teach your dog better leash-walking skills, be sure you have the right equipment. You will need a flat collar or harness that is properly fitted, a leash that buckles to the collar (not one that slips over your dog’s head) or harness, and small treats to reward your dog. Some training collars, like the Gentle Leader and Haltie can be effective if used properly. Be sure to do your homework on the right way to use training collars and harnesses first. If used incorrectly, they could cause pain and injury to your dog.

This is a good time to point out that retractable leashes are not recommended when you are teaching your dog to walk nicely on leash. The jury is out on whether retractable leashes should even be used on any dog ever, but if it works for you after you and your dog have mastered leash-walking, then so be it.

When you are out on your walk, keep your dog close to you. You don’t want to hold the leash with a stiff arm. Hold it firmly in your hand but keep your arm loose. If your dog starts to pull, stop and take a couple of steps backward and call your dog’s name. When he comes back to your side, reward him with a treat and a verbal reward (like “good boy”). Start walking again, and reward your dog every few steps when he walks well. If he starts pulling again, stop and go backward again. If he is walking nicely by your side, give him a treat and verbal reward every few steps.

It is important to be consistent so your dog learns how he is supposed to behave on leash. Don’t let him pull on some occasions and not others. Keep practicing, and reward you dog when he does well. With a little time and effort, you and your dog can enjoy walks together. It's so much fun for your dog and a great way for you both to get exercise.

The Animal Medical Center of Mid-America has veterinarians at two locations that can answer questions about your pet’s health. Call 314-951-1534 or click here to request an appointment online.