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

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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

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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

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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.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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