Nothing quite strikes joy in a dog’s heart like being asked to go for a walk (well….maybe a ride in the car). It is one of the first things that we teach them how to do as puppies. It can be a difficult task with an excitable little puppy …and an even bigger task if you have a excitable big puppy on your hands. Once both owner and dog get the hang of it, it is the best way to bond. I find it very therapeutic to take Teddy for a walk on a nice sunny day. It immediately lifts both of our spirits.
One of the most confusing choices for new pet parents is what kind of collar/ leash/ harness to buy for their dog. There are many different philosophies out there about what is best. I have talked about my philosophy before, and it is the same as that of the shelter I volunteer at. We use only positive reward based training methods, no punishment, no force. This means when we are training dogs to walk on a leash, we don’t use anything scary or harmful. If the dog pulls while walking, we use sensation or easy walk harnesses, gentle leaders, or in some cases a martingale collar (if they cannot wear a harness for some reason). All of these harnesses are humane and gently guide the dog to walk in a forward motion without pulling. You want walking with your dog to always be a positive experience. Some trainers may recommend prong or pinch collars, choke chains, or shock collars. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that these are the right choice. Frankly, if you find that the trainer that you have chosen uses these methods, I would get a new one. These collars train by fear and can greatly damage the relationship that your have with your dog. Dogs can even end up with behavioral issues that they didn’t have before.
Dog owners don’t always get their dogs as puppies, especially if they are adopted from a shelter. Puppies also grow up fast and the things that they did when they were little ( jumping, mouthing, pulling) stops being cute when they are big. This is why leash training is so important. I cannot use a regular collar on Teddy because he has a really sensitive trachea area. If he pulls even the slightest to sniff something he will start making a choking noise. I know this is an issue with a lot of the smaller breed dogs. Therefore a harness was a must for Teddy. I have a sensation harness that I used when he was first learning how to walk. A sensation or easy walk harness clips in the front and when your dog pulls it applies gentle pressure, slightly pulling them away from center. This sensation usually makes them stop pulling. It works much better than the prong/ choke/ shock collars. These collars are meant to punish the dogs when they pull by inducing pain and fear. There have been many studies done that prove that these collars actually cause dogs to have extreme anxiety and can lead to worse behaviors. Some dogs can even become aggressive. Be very careful with trainers that use these methods. They are archaic and cruel. We have had dogs surrendered to the shelter after undergoing training programs with trainers like this. The dogs get anxious and aggressive because they are wondering when the next punishment will come. Don’t make this mistake when selecting a trainer.
The bottom line is if you love your dog, you should find a positive and peaceful way to train them. It’s less stressful for you and them. If you stay calm, patient, and consistent you will see your leash walking improve. After all, most people walk for pleasure. Letting your dog stop to sniff or greet another person or animal should be a welcome occurrence. You want to always be in control in case something happens, but relax and enjoy a walk with your pooch. I guarantee the stress from the day will fall right away.
Thanks for reading! I hope you all took something away from this post. If you ever have any questions feel free to sent me a direct message here or on Instagram @singldogmom. Teddy and I send our love!
Pup of the Week:
Meet Evie! She is a six year old pit bull mix and oh so sweet. She was turned into the shelter with her sister Blair because her owners said they didn’t have time for her anymore. Both her and her sister are a little fearful and would prefer to be your one and only pet. I can’t imagine anyone giving her up!
Fingers crossed! It looks like Bo has been adopted. He was with us for about a month and we all fell in love with him. Yay Bo!!!