Take it outside. Finally, you’re ready to test your puppy’s skills in the Great Outdoors. There will be new challenges with this step because all the sounds, smells, and sights your puppy encounters will be intriguing and new to him. Be patient and keep the first walks short. While you’re on a walk, if your puppy looks as if he’s about to lunge toward something or is about to get distracted (you’ll notice this because you will keep your eyes on him at all times), make your cue sound and move a few steps away. Then reward him with a treat for following you.
Leash walking outside may be more frustrating because there are numerous distractions for you to compete with for your puppy’s attention. Understand, from his point of view, how much more difficult this task has now become, and whatever you do, don’t lose your patience; don’t drag him or allow him to drag you! Walk slowly and click and treat if he stays at your side. If he begins to pull, stop or change your direction, then click and treat when he reaches your side again!
Since that article ran in June, three dogs who have graduated from my Growly Dog class have been attacked by off-leash dogs. My clients work hard to calm their dog’s anxiety when they see other dogs (which often stems from being attacked the very first time by a rude, off-leash dog!). We help these over-anxious dogs learn to trust their handler, and we rebuild their faith that they can walk safely in their own neighborhood. We make significant progress in keeping these dogs calm and focused on their owners instead of hyper-vigilantly scanning for dangers . . . such as an off-leash dog. In some of these cases, the unleashed dog owner was held responsible and now must pay fines in addition to medical bills; one of my clients ended up having an $8,000 hand surgery after breaking up a dog fight. I have enough stories like that to fill up a very long, pathetic book.
This inexpensive leash is billed as "indestructible," and this pick was a favorite of our consumer (and K9!) testers. Users raved about the reflective material and thickness of the leash, confident that it could hold up to even large dogs' pulling. Testers also loved the look and security of the clip, although it may be a little large for small dogs.
Keep moving on a walk instead of stopping and chatting with others. While you and the other person are smiling and looking at each other, your dogs may be sending signals to one another that they are uncomfortable. Keep moving and stay focused on your dog’s body language. If your dog stiffens, growls, starts randomly sniffing or scratching, or you can see his hackles (among other warning signs that your dog is getting uncomfortable), do a U-turn and put something visual between you and the trigger upsetting your dog.
If your pup barks: Some dogs have the habit of barking at other dogs while on a walk. Oftentimes, this behavior comes as a result of lack of exercise. Make sure your dog gets the proper amount of mental and physical stimulation for his age and breed. If this is still a problem, use the same process as you would if your dog is lunging, as described above — create distance and offer treats before he starts to bark, so every time he sees a dog he gets used to turning his attention to you.
Do you remember the very first time you put a leash on that cute, chubby little fur ball of a puppy you just adopted? You immediately click the leash on his collar (Oh look! The snap is almost as big as he is), you then begin to tug on the leash with the expectation that your new pup is going to automatically know what this thing is yanking on his neck. You laugh at him and maybe even praise him for flopping down on the floor and biting the leash. You drag him a bit, and then he takes a couple steps and then rolls over scratching and biting and flails around trying to escape the collar. Then the whole scenario repeats itself, all the while you are telling little rover he is a genius, a champ, the best pup in the world as he gnaws on the leash and flops all over the floor like a fish. Sound familiar?
Or maybe, you have an older dog that walks you instead of you walking him. He pulls you all over the place, chases the neighborhood cat into the thorn bush up the street that you are now well acquainted with, and it seems like any time you pull back on the leash, Fido increases his speed! You decide he’s getting too big or too strong for you and before you know it, you are in traction at the chiropractor and your beloved pup is getting fat on the couch!
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