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Move Along: How to Get your Dog Motivated to Walk

Author: Nicolette Meyer | Date: August 28, 2013

Recently I’ve come across some dogs who, for whatever reason, just refuse to budge when going on walks. It struck me as so odd since most pups LOVE to go for strolls, especially on beautiful summer days like we’ve been having in Chicago lately. Here’s the scenario: I’d get rover leashed up, he’d seem somewhat excited (but not TOO amped up), we’d get outside, he’d take a few steps, and then THUMP! He’d sit down and refuse to go any further. What in the world would cause a dog to act like this?

Well, there are a few possible reasons, and maybe you’ve experienced this with your dog:

  • Inclement weather: maybe it’s too hot, too cold, raining, etc. and Fido is just NOT okay with anything other than 70 degrees and sunny for your strolls.
  • Old age: if your pup is getting up there in years, perhaps his old bones just doesn’t feel like going for 5 mile runs and hikes in the woods like he used to.
  • Fear or anxiety: maybe you live near El tracks or a busy intersection that Bowser is just too uncomfortable with to have a really enjoyable walk.
  • Motivation: sometimes when leash manners aren’t taught to the dog at an early age, it can cause difficulty with things like pulling, or create a stubborn and lazy pooch later on.

I’d like to give you some tips and pointers for what to do if the problem is specifically the dog’s motivation.

I think it’s always important to note that being on a leash isn’t exactly natural for dogs. Dogs have a hard time understanding that it’s for their own good, and that a leash is necessary so that they don’t run into traffic or get into too much trouble while out roaming the neighborhood with their human (I mean let’s face it, they’re not the best decision makers!), so getting them acclimated at an early age to proper leash walking is not only important, but necessary.

You might be thinking ‘That’s all well and good, but my dog is an adult now and still walks like a lazy puppy!’ but you can begin to teach your dog leash manners no matter their age. The key is consistency and great treats! Getting your dog excited and willing to follow you around on walks is as simple as building the association between walking and yummy times!

Here’s a step-by-step rundown of how to do just that:

  1. Find something that your dog REALLY loves as a reward (treats work best, like cheese, hot dogs, or my personal favorite: the frozen peanut butter spoon {take a long-handled wooden spoon, coat the spoon end in PB, and stick it in the freezer over night})
  2. When starting out, get your dog excited to follow you by giving them a reward every few steps as they walk alongside you (don’t reward if they are pulling on the leash, though!)
  3. Keep this up for several days when out on walks, and then gradually decrease the amount of treats they receive for walking – so instead of every few steps, now they’ll get one, say, every 10 or 15 steps – and as time goes on, keep phasing out the treats so that you don’t have to rely on it constantly.

It’s a good idea to always bring treats with you on walks, so that you can keep your dog interested or use it as a distraction tool long after these basic manners have been taught. Leash walking is one of the more challenging things to teach a pup, because being consistent with it is hard sometimes, but with hard work comes rewards – for you AND the dog!

Hopefully these quick little steps will provide some help for your stubborn dog, but it’s worth noting that AnimalSense offers a class specifically for this challenge, called Recall & Leash Manners if you think that you need more in-depth practice with your dog.

Walks are a great time to bond with your dog, so keeping Spot moving not only gives you the opportunity to hang out and see the sights, but also to get that much needed exercise for your dog!

If you’ve had this experience with your own pup and found a way to get them motivated to get moving, let us know in the Comments below.

 


Having never trained a dog before I knew I was out of my depth with our puppy and AnimalSense threw me my life preserver.

Meghan R. | View Client Testimonials

 

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