How to Train Your Dog to Walk Without Stopping

Medium
7-18 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You understand how interesting the world smells, and you are not above letting your dog have “her walk” every now and then. After all, you know that every post and fire hydrant is a message board and that your dog wants to read the news and share her message with the neighborhood as well. To stroll, sniff and pee is about as natural to a dog as it gets. However, you can’t help but think, as you alternately are dragged to the next sniff spot and made to stand waiting while the sniffing takes place, what about your walk? What about your desire to keep up a good cardio pace, or avoid the glares from restaurant goers as your dog lifts his leg on every railing downtown?

Defining Tasks

Both you and your dog can get what you want from your walk, without stopping every other minute. It is a matter of compromise, understanding, and working towards your mutual benefit. While it is natural for a dog to stroll, it is also natural for a dog to follow your lead. When a pack of dogs is hunting, the alpha will not tolerate everyone taking their time to sniff and pee. After all, there is a job to be done! You can teach your dog the same distinction between his time to stroll and your time to lead.

Getting Started

The most fundamental piece of equipment you will need is your leash and an effective way to attach it to your dog. There are an endless variety of tools and mentalities when it comes to leashing your dog, but what matters is that your dog understands the pull of the lead to be a command, not a resistance band. A prong collar is no more effective (although more damaging) than a buckle collar if your dog leans into it, indifferent to the prongs. Even a back clip harness can be effective to a sensitive dog that understands the pull from the back to mean something. Whatever tool you use, it must be secure and get your dog’s attention. If you’ve been using a traditional buckle collar, a face halter or chest harness is likely to get your dog to respond in a new way.

Accept before you begin that perfection is not achievable. You must compromise with your dog about where and how often she stops. It is not possible to ask your dog to take a walk completely without stopping.

The OK Sniff Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Name the sniff
Put a command to the activity of sniffing on a free leash. Giving your dog a loose leash, tell her “sniff” or another command word of your choosing while she is sniffing.
Step
2
Name the walk
When you are walking, keep your dog on a closer lead, but do not allow her to lean on the lead. If she pulls against you, pull her back and give the command to walk. This can be “walk” or “heel” or whatever you want, but the meaning of the command is that your dog must deny her impulse to sniff when she is given this command.
Step
3
Anticipate the sniff
Try to anticipate when your dog will want to sniff and give the “sniff” command and give her plenty of leash before she tries to pull. Eventually she will associate the sniff command with being free to sniff.
Step
4
Anticipate the pull
Do not allow your dog to “win” at pulling against the leash. Watch your dog while you are walking so that you can see when she is about to pull. Be ahead of her, giving resistance as soon as she begins to pull. Always pull your dog back to you, don’t just match her pull and play tug of war. If she feels she might be able to pull you to where she wants to go, she will keep pulling.
Step
5
Compromise
Give the command for your dog to sniff as often as you can tolerate. Give preference to spots that are particularly enticing, like the poles at corners. Remember that it is better to give your dog freedom to sniff than reprimands for pulling. Try to let her get as many sniffs out as she can, so that she will be respectful of the time you spend walking.
Recommend training method?

The Follow the Leader Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Let your dog set the pace
Follow your dog as she explores and sniffs around. Don’t put any resistance on the leash. Instead, follow your dog.
Step
2
Don’t travel
While your dog is sniffing around, do not walk down the road as you will when you are walking. Your dog gets to set the lead while you are doing this activity, sniffing, but once you start traveling down the road you should be the leader.
Step
3
Wiggles out
Follow your dog until she has gotten her wiggles out. At some point, she should stop sniffing around and start looking to you for what the next activity is.
Step
4
You lead
Begin walking in a determined manner, at a consistent pace that is as quick as you are comfortable with. Your dog should naturally follow. Don’t worry about whether your dog wants to walk ahead of or behind you, but do not allow any pulling on the leash.
Step
5
No compromise while traveling
The idea of this training is that while you are traveling down the road, you are the leader. When you stop and give your dog a loose leash, that is her opportunity to lead as she follows her nose. She will be confused if you allow her to sniff while traveling, so be firm and don’t allow her to deviate while walking. Take frequent breaks for sniffing, especially while your dog is learning, so she doesn’t get frustrated.
Recommend training method?

The Travel With a Pack Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Group walk, group sniff
Walking in a group teaches dogs to travel without stopping, since all the dogs can’t be allowed to stop whenever they want or the group would make no progress.
Step
2
Group mentality
Dogs quickly understand that while traveling they must focus on traveling with each other, and that while sniffing they must be respectful of each other’s space.
Step
3
No pulling
Keep all dogs in the same space relative to you as you walk. Don’t allow them to pull you or the group, and don’t allow dogs to change positions relative to each other.
Step
4
Sniff time
When you do allow the dogs to sniff, give them enough room to have their own space to sniff, but don’t give them enough room to get tangled with each other. Dogs usually mark over each other in order of dominance, and they will likely establish the same routine every time they stop to sniff.
Step
5
Retention
If you want your dog to retain her learning when you two are walking solo again, just pretend that you are in a group and set a steady pace until you are ready to allow her to sniff. She will have internalized the concept of group travel and be respectful of your pace setting.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Ford
Boxer/Hound Mix
18 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ford
Boxer/Hound Mix
18 Weeks

My dog is the perfect breed for 4 mile walks and runs which I did every morning before adopting him. However I can barely get him to go more than half a mile because he seriously stops to smell EVERYTHING and when he sees another dog coming his way, he stops and sits in the road! I need help getting him to travel longer distances without being so distracted. I have been trying to use treats but he stops to chew the treats too! What is my solution??

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

Hi! I couldn't read your message without laughing a little bit. Dogs are so silly! So right now because of his age, he is going to want to explore everything. This is something that will potentially correct itself as he ages. At around 9 months to a year, the world will become less distracting. Ideally anyway! In the mean time, you can teach him some commands to help speed the process along. "Leave it" is the perfect one for this. This is a command you can give to teach your dog to break his attention from anything that is distracting him. Smells, birds, other dogs, people, etc. Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in.

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