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Positive Dog Parenting

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS/P

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Dogs who lag behind and refuse to walk on the leash have either never been taught the routine or have experienced something bad such as being jerked while on leash. In most cases, they may simply not understand how being on leash is suppose to work
The "let's go" Instruction cues the dog to walk with you and reminds the dog not to lag behind.

Slow pokes

To introduce puppies to a leash or to reintroduce the leash to dogs who lag behind, try the following technique. Begin by attaching a leash to the dog indoors and then following the dog, praising any movement he or she makes in any direction while on the lead. If the dog will not move whatsoever, then, without pulling on the leash, crouch down and act happy, slap your knees, and try to get the dog to come to you. If the dog does move, praise the dog while he or she is moving along and still wearing the leash. Give a dog cookie (i.e., food reward) as an additional reward for coming. Once the dog is able to do the above, back up to the length of the leash and call the dog again.

If he or she lies down or will not come to you when called, walk past the dog excitedly in the other direction saying the dog's name and "Let's Go!" as you pass by.

If the dog follows you, praise and give a food treat. Now, instead of crouching down again, call the dog and back up to stimulate the natural chase instinct and desire to get another treat! After a few feet, stop backing up and give the dog a treat. The dog is now walking while wearing the leash. 

Initially, whenever you put the leash on a reluctant dog, make it a fun and exciting occasion.  Pat your leg and say, "Let's go" as you set off on a new adventure with your dog.  Make sure the dog learns to associate the leash with something wonderful such as treats, walks, quality time with you, etc.

Attempt to make gradual progress until the dog is easily walking on the lead. In addition, it may be helpful to have the dog wear the leash inside the house (while supervised) so that he or she gets used to the feel of it.

Dogs love to "sniff and pee" on a walk. Dogs need their walks for physical exercise and mental stimulation. They literally need a "change of scenery" just like we do or they get "cabin fever."  However, sniffing every two feet can make the walk tedious for you and limit your exercise benefit. Some sniffing ought to be allowed or the walk is much less fun for the dog. Sniffing is an important way that dog's explore the environment. Walks need to allow for a moderate amount of sniffing and urinating.

Consider setting a limit of 4 to 6 "specials" of sniffing and urinating during a block or for the whole walk. After the "specials" have been used up, if the dog tries to stop, simply keep walking. This is when you want to cue the dog by saying, "Let's go!" or "Leave it," as you keep moving. Praise the dog as he or she begins to pick up the pace! 

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