How to Train Your Dog to Walk Slowly

Hard
2-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You’re out on a walk trying to make it a peaceful stroll instead of a half jog as your dog pulls you along. You try pulling on the leash and shouting to him, but he’s insistent that this will be the quickest of walks. It’s a problem and one that needs addressing. It would also be helpful for when you start the walk and open the door. Currently, he leaps out onto the sidewalk and then straight onto the road. You need him to slowly leave the house so you can avoid him getting run over before you’ve even stepped out of the house.

Training him to walk slowly will also be vital for helping you assert your control and position as the pack leader. If you can control his walking, you’ll find it easier to control other behaviors you aren’t so keen on too.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog to walk slowly won’t be easy, unfortunately. This is particularly the case on walks. This is often the highlight of his day and he's understandably excited and eager to tear around and sniff everything he can. Training, therefore, will consist of motivating him to walk slowly and using a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement to achieve the end result. If he’s older he should have mellowed out somewhat over the years and reigning him in may take just a couple of weeks. Puppies are often more excitable and energetic and getting a handle on that energy may take a couple of months.

Get it right though, and you’ll be able to enjoy peaceful walks and have him trotting slowly in a range of situations. You’ll also find training him to ‘stay’, ‘sit’ and any other number of commands will take less time too.

Getting Started

Before you declare war on speed, you’ll need a few things. A short or an extendable leash will be needed. You may also want to use a body harness to reduce the strain on his neck. Make sure you top up on his favorite food or treats, they’ll be used to incentivize the slow walk.

You can train while you’re on your walks each day so you don’t need to set aside any time. You do need to walk him somewhere where he won’t get easily distracted by pets, people, and traffic, though.

Once you’ve got all of that you just need a patient attitude and you’re ready to start!

The Short and Slow Method

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Step
1
Head out as normal
Go out for your walk as you normally would but secure your dog to an extremely short leash. If he has no slack you have complete control over the speed you walk. If he’s strong and you struggle to reign him in, put him in a body harness, this will increase your control.
Step
2
Take it slow
Walk extra slowly to start with. You need to get him used to walking on your terms and at your speed. Hold him close to your side and take it steady for 10 minutes.
Step
3
Reward
Constantly praise him verbally and give him the odd treat for the entire time he doesn’t pull and stays by your side. Start this is as soon as he’s secured to the leash.
Step
4
React promptly
As soon as he starts pulling, stop walking completely until he too comes to a standstill. If you do this every time you will drill into him that he has to walk slowly if he wants to walk anywhere at all.
Step
5
Be consistent
You need to use a mixture of the positive and negative reinforcement measures above every time you step out of the house. Each day you let him get away with pulling will set the final result back. After a number of well behaved weeks you can stop giving him regular treats, he knows what’s expected of him now.
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The Fast & Slow Method

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Step
1
‘Fast’
Start walking with him on a leash at a normal speed, but issue a ‘fast’ command as you start walking. Verbally praise him as you go and then give him the odd treat. If you can teach him to walk quickly on command, you can also instruct him to walk slowly. As you can imagine, the quick pace will be easiest to teach!
Step
2
‘Slow’
After 50 yards, issue the ‘slow’ command in a clear and firm voice. At the same time, drop your speed right down to a very gradual pace. Straight away, start praising him and giving him the odd treat.
Step
3
Correct him
If he struggles to stay walking slowly, stand still and stop giving him praise until he stops too. Then start walking slowly again, praising as you go. Continue this for another 50 yards.
Step
4
Chop and change
Over the next few days, conduct your walks in this manner, alternating between a fast and slow walk. He will soon start to distinguish between the two commands and different speeds.
Step
5
Lose the treats
It may take a while, but once he’s got the hang of it, you can slowly cut out the treats. By now the behavior will be ingrained and he will no longer need a food incentive to walk at the speed you’d like him to.
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The Slow Down Method

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Step
1
Start at home
Put a leash on your dog at home and leave it on though out the day. Dogs will often walk at a crazy speed because they’re so excited to be on a walk. As soon as they see their leash they go crazy because they know what’s coming. Leaving the leash on him all the time will make it easier to walk him slowly to start with.
Step
2
Walk around the house
A couple of times a day, walk him very slowly around the house. Keep him firmly by your side on a short leash and walk at the speed you want him to.
Step
3
Lure
To get him walking slowly if he won’t do it naturally, hold a treat out at waist height. Hold it firmly in your hand so even when he tries to sniff and lick it he won’t be able to get to it. Use this to force him to walk slowly.
Step
4
Reward
After several successful steps of slow walking as he tries to get the treat, let him have it. Also give him some verbal praise so be begins to understand he’s done something right. Keep practicing this each day around the house, until you can have him walk slowly by your side consistently.
Step
5
Take it outdoors
Once he’s mastered walking slowly inside you can head outside. Follow exactly the same steps as above to keep him calm and walking steadily. The tastier the treat, the more likely he will be to walk slowly to try and get it. Keep practicing this until it becomes habit to walk at that speed.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Maxx
Labrador Retriever
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Maxx
Labrador Retriever
1 Year

Why my dog is pulling so much??

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

Hello, it sounds as though Maxx is happy to be on a walk and anxious to get going. It's not uncommon for a dog to pull. That is where teaching them to heel is important. Take a look here ar the Turns Method. You've got step by step instructions for how to train Maxx. The Treat Lure Method is also excellent. Use these methods every time you go for a walk and soon, Maxx will walk without pulling. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Good luck!

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Question
Ziggy
Border Collie
1 Year
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Question
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Ziggy
Border Collie
1 Year

My dog can do heel perfectly at my parking lot but when we go outside he start walking faster so i have to walk much faster how can i stop this and which method is the most effective?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
817 Dog owners recommended

Hello Christella, I suggest following the Turns method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ice
Border Collie
14 Months
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Question
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Ice
Border Collie
14 Months

She pulls on the lead!!! She knows the heel position and when I stop she goes straight back to heel but as we set off she gets ahead of me straight away even if she starts off behind me. We have been stopping every time she pulls but as you can imagine we don’t get far! She is really good off lead (obedient) but the walking on lead is our nemesis.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
817 Dog owners recommended

Hello Deborah, 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 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Layla
Cocker Spaniel x labrador
7 Months
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Question
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Layla
Cocker Spaniel x labrador
7 Months

Any time we go for a walk Layla is constantly running. She does not walk, she is constantly trying to run even though she is getting no where which results in her choking herself a lot. We have tried stopping and getting her to sit, however, once she sits and we go to walk again she starts running again straight away. We have also tried turning the opposite direction to get her to stop running and pulling on the lead, however, this also fails to work. Is there anything else we can do to get her to walk instead of constantly running and pulling on the lead?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
219 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Despite their size, cocker spaniels are very powerful dogs. Mixed with lab, you have quite a machine on your hands! She is super adorable though! My only real suggestion for immediate relief of this is to get a no pull harness or halter. Traditional collars and harnesses often give dogs more power to pull. They are able to utilize all of their shoulder and neck strength to pull against us. There are two types. A Gentle Leader which fits over the nose, and an easy walk harness that fits over the body. Both work equally well, it is just a preference on your end. Continue with the no pull exercises you are doing. But those take time. Months if not longer. So in the mean time, you can utilize a tool to make walks a bit more enjoyable.

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