Training your dog to walk sounds almost too simple, doesn’t it? Training a dog to do something it already does? But when you start to consider all the things your dog is really doing on a walk, it can start to sound pretty complicated. How do you train your dog to keep walking, instead of sniffing every single creature and object along the way? How do you train your dog to behave when you introduce your dog to other pets and humans along the way? How do you set a walking speed that both of you can enjoy, without someone dragging the other along? Don’t worry, we have good news! Training is much easier than most people think. In fact, we’re always training our dogs, whether we mean to or not. The question is...what are they learning?
Here’s a list of some of the most common ways pet owners train their dogs to walk wrong.
Tip #1: Awareness Is Key to Training Your Dog
Ready for a nice long walk to clear your head? If you want to get your leash training off on the wrong paw, go ahead and let your mind wander. Your little buddy may just follow suit. Training your dog to walk is all about setting expectations. If you’re not leading your dog, they’ll happily lead you.
Unfortunately, that means your walk will likely be a tour of the most pungent scents in your neighborhood. Sure, it’s fun to work on your dance moves, flip through some memes or call your mom, but it won’t do much to help your dog understand the purpose of a walk.
Tip #2: Set the Right Pace While Walking Your Dog
Ordinarily, you’d want to train your dog to set a consistent, comfortable pace, but training them to walk wrong is much easier. Your dog has twice as many legs as you and will naturally try to set a pace that’s at least twice as fast as anything that qualifies as a “walk” for a human. At the same time, giving them control means they’ll happily stop and start every time an interesting scent or bug crosses their path. Let them choose your speed and before you know it, the two of you will be sprint-stopping your way through the neighborhood.
If you want your dog to be familiar with the idea of a walk, you might try putting the leash on them at home to help them get used to wearing it. You could even practice walking around the house together while holding the leash. To teach them to walk wrong, just do the opposite. Save the leash until the last minute and then hope for the best.
Tip #3: Give Attention and Positive Reinforcement
Praise and attention are your dog’s No. 1 love languages. Laying it on thick or withholding it are our main ways of training our dogs to do anything and everything. Reward good behaviors and try to maintain distance between your dog and things that may cause an unwanted reaction, like squirrely squirrels and delicious smelling trash.
Conversely, if you want your dog to be an unmanageable mess while walking, be sure to give your dog lots of attention when they scarf the neighbors’ flowers, bark at strangers or dart after small woodland creatures. They’ll interpret your loud reaction and attention as encouragement, which should really help cultivate an unhelpful attitude toward walking.
Congratulations! Your dog is ready to walk wrong.
If you decide you'd rather help your dog go for more pleasant and traditional walks, just do the opposite of the things we’ve listed above.
• Be aware of your dog’s behavior and set appropriate expectations.
• Practice walking with them at a comfortable pace.
• Give your dog lots of praise and attention when they’re on the right track