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Having a baby and a dog is an interesting combination. Maybe you've had your dog for a long time before you decided it was time to introduce a baby into your family. Bringing a baby into the world creates its own unique challenges, but bringing a baby into your dog's life creates a different kind of challenge. Your dog has possibly gone on countless walks or runs with you, and now you need to introduce your dog to a baby stroller without tumbling over it yourself, tipping it over, or having your dog's leash become entangled in the wheels. This can be mastered with a little bit of practice. Training your dog how to walk or run with a baby stroller is not incredibly difficult, but necessary before you take your baby and your dog out together.
The most important thing to try to do before baby arrives is to take the dog on a walk with the stroller without the baby in it. If this is not possible, try to have someone else train your dog with the stroller a few times or at least watch the baby while you go out with your dog and the stroller to get your dog used to the motion of the stroller and you used to how the leash will work while you control the dog and the stroller at the same time. This is just a matter of practice. But remember it's best to practice without the baby in the stroller. Have some patience and be prepared with a few walks under your belt before bringing baby and dog on walks together. Be sure you give your dog lots of opportunities to sniff and get used to the stroller. Once baby is here, place the baby in the stroller and let your dog sniff the stroller with the baby in it before you take the dog out for a walk with the baby in the stroller.
To get started on training your dog to walk with the baby stroller, you are obviously going to need a stroller. You do not need a baby just yet, but if you have a baby you can let your dog sniff the baby while he's in the stroller before you all go for walks together. Or you can include a baby blanket or clothes that smell like your baby in the stroller while you take your dog for his first few walks.
Be sure to bring lots of treats on your walks with your dog as you do this training. Be prepared for your first walks to be slow. And be sure you have the right harness and leash for your dog's size and strength. Never attach a leash to the stroller. And be sure you are aware of where the leash is relative to the baby stroller's wheels. To do this well, your dog should have basic obedience training down as well as 'leave it' and 'heel' so he understands he cannot take off chasing after a rabbit, dragging you and the baby behind him.
The Clicker Method
The first few times you walk with a stroller and your dog, you may want to leave the baby at home with someone while your dog gets used to the stroller.
Before you get moving, show your dog the clicker and offer him a treat. If he has done any clicker training in the past, this will trigger the memory that he will be learning something new today.
Before you bring a stroller into the mix, make sure your dog has loose leash walking understood. If you need some leash walking practice before you introduce the stroller and a baby in the stroller, practice before baby arrives.
Bring your dog on a leash around the stroller and let him sniff it. It's helpful if you have your baby's toys or a baby blanket in the stroller. If baby hasn't arrived yet, get your dog used to the stroller before baby's arrival.
Click and treat
As your dog explores the stroller and walks around it, sniffing and nudging it, every now and then click and treat.
Without going for a walk, show your dog how the stroller moves. You can do this by simply rolling it around a room in your home or rolling it up and down your driveway. He needs to understand that it moves.
Once your dog understands the stroller and how it moves, take him and the stroller without the baby for a short walk. You will want to focus on the loose leash walking so your dog can have independence without pulling you. Be sure to click and treat every now and then as you walk. Do not stop to reward your dog; you want to reward the loose leash walking next to the stroller.
With the baby in the stroller, let your dog sniff the stroller again, clicking and treating along the way.
Walk with baby
Take your dog and the baby for a walk together, clicking and treating along the way so your dog is rewarded for a job well done. Keep your first few walks short so you can trust your dog will not pull you or the stroller along.
The Before Baby Method
Before your baby arrives, introduce the stroller you plan to use to your dog. Let him sniff it, touch it, nose it, and nudge it. Offer him treats as he's exploring so he is rewarded for this behavior.
Take a small walk with the stroller without a baby in it before your baby arrives, if possible, with your dog leashed beside you.
If your dog knows the 'heel' command, this is a good time to use it. Give the 'heel' command and have your dog walk at your pace on a loose leash beside you and the stroller. If your dog does not know the 'heel' command, training it before the baby arrives might be a great idea.
Before you take your dog and the baby in the stroller out for a walk together, be sure to introduce your dog to the baby. By this time, your dog should be used to the stroller and walking next to the stroller, so spend some time getting him used to the scent of your baby.
Baby in stroller
Your first walk together with the baby in the stroller should be a pretty short and simple walk. You can judge if your dog is comfortable and whether or not you can take it further. But for the first few walks together, you may want to keep it short and simple as your dog gets used to walking with the baby in the stroller.
Don't forget to give your dog rewards for a job well done during your walk and once you arrive home.
The Equipment & Manners Method
Choose the proper harness for your dog for loose leash walking as well as for your dog's size. A harness that clips on the chest will give you better control over your dog rather than giving him control to pull or rear up.
Be sure you are purchasing the right size leash as well for your dog's size. You also want the right length. When you are using a stroller with your dog, you are going to want a leash that is secure enough for you to hold on to but not too long for your dog to get away from you. Never attach the leash to the stroller.
Consider how wide you, your stroller, and at least one dog, if not more, will be on a sidewalk or walkway. Be sure to place your dog on your right side rather than a typical left side 'heel'. This will keep your dog away from passing traffic on the sidewalk.
If possible, before baby arrives teach your dog the 'wait' command. You can use this command to have your dog wait for you as you open the door to maneuver the stroller and the dog through doorways. This also gives you an opportunity to have your dog wait while you stop and tend to your baby during your walks.
Once you are ready with the proper equipment and the baby stroller, walk your dog first without the baby in the stroller. This will teach your dog how the stroller works, what your expectations are, and how you will maneuver the stroller around with him beside you.
Once your baby has arrived and your dog is used to the stroller and walking next to the stroller on a loose leash, introduce the baby to the walk as well. If your dog is not comfortable or you are not comfortable with your dog beside the stroller, keep his first few walks short and simple. As you and your dog become more comfortable with the baby in the stroller, you can increase challenges such as hills and turns.
By Stephanie Plummer
Published: 11/07/2017, edited: 01/08/2021
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