How to Train Your Dog to Behave on Walks

Medium
4-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Having a large breed dog, or even a smaller dog who could overpower you, could put you in a dangerous position while on walks if he is not under your control and behaving. Teaching your dog to behave on walks is important for your safety and your dog’s safety, as well as the safety of people and pets around you. You will want your dog to walk calmly on a leash close to you using his manners as he passes other people, other dogs, wild animals, and distractions along the way. Teaching your dog to behave on walks starts with you maintaining control. A dog who pulls or lunges could pull you along very quickly behind to chase something as small as a baby rabbit or to get to another dog, who could cause you both harm.

Defining Tasks

Teaching your dog manners requires time, patience, and dedication from you both. Starting with proper equipment, such as a harness for a larger dog, the correct size leash for you to maintain control, and treats to keep your dog's attention will set you up for good behavior while walking. Training puppies to behave on walks is easier than training a dog who has years of bad habits built up. This could take several weeks and tons of dedication from you and your dog. Be patient and change your routes if you need to in order to avoid distractions while your dog is working on training. Keep your dog focused and be prepared for rewarding your dog's positive behaviors.

Getting Started

Depending on your dog's size and breed, you may want to consider a harness instead of simply a collar. A harness which clips to the back will give you more control over the dog than having a dog pull with a collar. Using a collar on a dog who pulls could cause injuries for you as well as trachea injuries for your dog. For large breed dogs or dogs who are out of control, consider using a harness which clips on the chest. When your dog pulls up, you can pull the leash down, maintaining better control. Special treats for these walks are imperative. Keep a baggie full of processed meat, jerky, or even cheese to entice your dog to behave well while he is in training.

The Leader of the Pack Method

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Leader of the Pack method for Behave on Walks
Step
1
Respect
Show your dog you are the leader of his pack and demand respect while he is on a leash with you. Stand tall and be firm with your commands so your dog gives you respect.
Step
2
Short leash
Keep the distance between you and your dog short. Try not to keep the leash tight because it will give your dog opportunity to pull.
Step
3
Correct your dog's behavior
If your dog pulls, make your correction quickly and return the leash to a short but loose state. Corrections can be done by stopping in your tracks without moving forward until your dog stops as well.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat these steps so your dog begins to learn how his behavior is corrected when he misbehaves. Continue to correct his behavior by stopping in your tracks and ignoring him.
Step
5
Continue
Begin walking again with a short and loose leash once your dog's behavior has improved.
Step
6
Practice
Take your dog on walks often to practice behavior while walking.
Step
7
Reward
Reward your dog when he stops after being corrected and to acknowledge his good behavior.
Step
8
Distractions
As your dog's behavior improves on a walk, include some additional distractions to keep him challenged. If he lunges or pauses, stop and correct, then continue with the steps above.
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The Short Leash Training Method

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Short Leash Training method for Behave on Walks
Step
1
Leash without walking
Put your dog on a short leash and stand still.
Step
2
Wait calmly
Your dog will be excited to see the leash or simply knowing an activity is to come. Stand still and wait calmly for your dog to settle down.
Step
3
Command
Use a keyword command you can use for every walk such as ‘let's go for a walk.’ Take a step and pause. When she stops, give her a treat as well.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat the command ‘let's go for a walk,’ only this time take a few more steps and pause. When your pup pauses with you, give her a treat and verbal praise. Repeat this step several times, extending the distance each time you walk forward.
Step
5
Distractions
Once your dog has enough practice on short leash walks, go on a longer walk with a few distractions. When your dog is distracted, pause as you have taught your dog to do and wait calmly for her to settle. As soon as she settles give her the command, ‘let's go for a walk.’ Offer her a treat as you begin to walk.
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The Watch Me Method

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Watch Me method for Behave on Walks
Step
1
Get your dog's attention
While walking together, if your dog is distracted grab his attention by saying his name.
Step
2
Stand still
Plant yourself firmly without moving until your dog stands calmly as well.
Step
3
Treat
Hold a treat up to your face and use the cue words, ‘watch me.’
Step
4
Attention
When you have your dog's attention, give him verbal praise and offer the treat.
Step
5
Repeat
Each time your dog is distracted on your walk, use the ‘watch me’ tactic to get his attention again.
Step
6
Practice
Continue practicing this method on several walks until your dog gives you his attention every time you use the command ‘watch me.’
Recommend training method?
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Written by Amy Caldwell

Published: 10/27/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Storm
Pit bull
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Storm
Pit bull
5 Months

When my husband and I walk storm she is always trying to trip me run around me or pull when seeing other people

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1130 Dog owners recommended

Hello Susan, Check out the Turns method from the article linked below. Pay special attention to the steps on turning directly in front of pup as soon as their nose starts to move past your leg - don't wait until her head is all the way past your leg to turn in front of her or this will be hard to do. It should look like pup sitting beside you, slightly behind you so that head is behind your leg, step forward and as soon as she starts to move ahead of you, quickly turn directly in front of her. You will probably have to be fast at first and may bump into her until she starts to learn this. Practice in an open area, like your own yard, so that you can make lots of turns easily. You want pup to learn that she should stay slightly behind and pay attention to where you are going and where you may turn, instead of assuming she knows the way and can forge ahead. The turns keep her guessing and more focused. Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel I also recommend recruiting some friends or family members pup would be excited about to practice the Passing Approach and Walking Together methods from the article I have linked below. This method mentions other dogs, but the same steps can be used to get pup used to greeting people more calmly. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs I would also work on the Sit method for pup to learn to greet politely once you reach the person. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Wrinkles
Pug
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Wrinkles
Pug
2 Years

She reacts tô everything and doesnt responde tô me

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1130 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lara, First, if by reacting that also includes barking, I suggest combining a few things in your case. You need a way to communicate with her so I suggest teaching the Quiet command from the Quiet method in the article I have linked below - don't expect this alone to work but it will be part of the puzzle for what I will suggest next. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Next, once pup understands what Quiet means you will choose an interrupter - which will be a form of punishment - neither too harsh nor ineffective. An e-collar or Pet Convincer are two of the most effective types of interrupter for most dogs. A pet convincer is a small canister of pressurized, unscented air that you can spray a quick puff of at the dog's side to surprise them enough to help them calm back down. (Don't use citronella and avoid spraying in the face!). Command Quiet. If they obey, reward with a treat and very calm praise. If they bark anyway or continue to bark, say "Ah Ah" firmly but calmly and give a brief correction. Repeat the correction each time they bark until you get a brief pause in the barking. When they pause, praise and reward then. The combination of communication, correction, and rewarding - with the "Ah Ah" and praise to mark their good and bad behavior with the right timing, is very important. Most bark training only gives part of that equation. Fitting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Finding his low level: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Once pup is calmer in general after the initial training, practice exposing her a lot to the things that trigger the barking normally (make a list - even if it's long). Whenever she DOESN'T bark around something that she normally would have, calmly praise and reward her to continue the desensitization process. If she hasn't been socialized, before you do the above I would start by simply spending time sitting outside with her for 30-60 minutes at a time as often as you can, starting with the calmest locations like your front yard, sidewalks in dead end streets and cul-de-sacs, and various spots in your neighborhood once at a time. Take treats and some of pup's favorite toys. If they will take the treats, reward calmness, responsiveness to you, quiet curiosity, and any other good responses, as well as practice something to get pup's focus on you, like rewarding pup for doing tricks and simple commands they know, or hiding treats on the ground in areas that are pesticide and car fluid free (be especially careful on pavement of anti-freeze). If pup is too stimulated or nervous to take treats, then simply hang out in the area calmly, keeping interactions with pup up beat and overall calm, without soothing pup, or acting angry with pup - mirror confidence, calmness, and a happy attitude in that environment, so pup can take cues from your attitude. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Gus
French Bulldog
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Gus
French Bulldog
5 Years

He’s always been a bit of a puller when excited. When we used to see other dogs he would say hello and move on. Since getting our second dog (rescue french bulldog 3 years) when approaching another dog he squeals and moans until they are way past us.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1130 Dog owners recommended

Hello Abbey, I recommend desensitizing pup to other dogs using the passing approach method from the article I have linked below, working with friends who have well mannered dogs that you have recruited to help. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Check out the video also for another example of desensitizing pup to other dogs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n_fPKPLA2g&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=10 It sounds like pup is probably overly aroused around other dogs and needs to learn more calmness emotionally through desensitization. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Finlay
wheaten terrier
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Finlay
wheaten terrier
3 Years

Finlay barks at other dogs and people when on walks and will pull at the lead when he sees them. He is a very friendly dog but can be a challenge on a walk. We have tried distracting him with treats and asking him to sit and stay while others walk past but it doesn't work

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I would work on Finlay's heeling skills when out and about on a walk. That way, you do not have to be concerned with trying to keep him still, which is a tough thing for him when there is excitement in the area, such as other dogs. Try the Turns Method as described here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel. Finlay will be too busy to look at the other dogs. Canines love to learn and chances are he'll be quite pleased to have a job to do while walking. You can also teach Finlay the Quiet Method. It comes in handy for walks and many other situations such as when the doorbell rings at home. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark. The Desensitize Method can be worked on, too, and adapted to situations where Finlay meets up with other dogs. Good luck and happy training!

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