Mules having nothing on dogs when it comes to stubbornness. It’s almost impossible to reason with a dog who point blank refuses to walk anywhere, whether that’s in the middle of a walk or even before you leave the house. Maybe you’re the owner of a pet who drags you everywhere, chasing every scent and car in sight.
Having a stubborn pet can be a headache, but even the most single minded of hounds doesn’t know all the tricks and tips a clever owner has up their sleeve. The good news is that in most cases, with a little bit of training, you can turn your pet’s behaviour around.
Here we look at some sure fire ways of persuading your reluctant pet it’s time for some exercise.
Not sure about wearing a lead
If you have a new puppy and you’re thinking it’s time to take him out on his first lead walk, then before you go any further give him some time to get used to the idea of wearing something around his neck.
Some very young dogs, who haven’t experienced what it’s like to wear a lead, will pull to an abrupt halt if they feel that strange sensation around their necks. Before you go anywhere take time to let your puppy wander around at home with his lead on and get used to how it feels. Don’t forget to praise him when he comes to you when called, wearing it.
If your dog didn’t have chance to get used to a lead when they were younger then now’s the time to start a reward-based behaviour training routine to help him overcome his fear of walking outside and wearing a lead.
Although, it can be incredibly frustrating to watch your dog refusing your commands, concentrate on giving rewards and ignore the negative bad behaviour. Any shouting or punishment will immediately make him fear the lead.
If he makes it out the door for the first time, great, give him something tasty. That might be it for a while, but it’s baby steps with building confidence. A little patience and you’ll be bounding around the park in no time.
Check them out
If your previously happy dog has suddenly started refusing to walk it might be because they have an unnoticed injury or illness.
Make sure that you get your pet to the vets as soon as you can for a proper check up and keep a closer eye on him to see if you can spot any tale-tale signs of discomfort.
If your breed is prone to particular illness, such as arthritis, then ask your vet to suggest ways of making walking more comfortable and preventing a build up of any potential pain problems.
Too much fun
If your dog refuses to leave with you to walk home, it may well be because he’s simply having too much fun! This is when your clever reward tactics come in to play. Keeping calm, slowly walk away from him. If he makes the slightest action to come towards you, reward with a treat thrown ahead of you. He will soon learn that coming when called is a massive benefit to him.
Be consistent in rewarding behaviour that marks out obedience and your reluctant companion will gradually change his behaviour to adapt to your expectations.
It may be you have the opposite problem on walks and have a dog who stubbornly refuses to walk to heel, always pulling and going off course.
If this is the case, the process is much the same: reward over discipline. Before you event start your walk try and get your dog to sit calmly as you attach the lead. If he manages, reward him. If he doesn’t manage it, take off the lead and try again a little later, until he gets it right. Make this a consistent routine and he will modify his behaviour to be nice and calm before you head outside.
Stop when necessary
If you have taken on an older pet, chances are they have learnt that pulling on the lead gets them to where they want to go more quickly, the exact opposite of how you want them to behave.
When your pet starts pulling, just stop in your tracks. Wait until he comes back to heel and give lots of praise and a treat.
Dogs naturally want to walk faster than their human owners, so unless you’re running with your pet it’s not a natural behaviour to walk so slowly. However, training them to walk with you will keep the pair of you much safer, especially near busy traffic and other, more aggressive dogs.
Routinely reward and praise your pet every time they stop pulling and come back to you. They will soon learn that pulling does not get them anywhere fast and learn that a consistent pace will satisfy their physical demands much more quickly.
Whether your dog is a walk refuser or a puller, the type of lead you choose for your pet is very important.
For you, choose one that feels comfortable next to your skin and won’t cause a friction burn should your dog suddenly take off. Leather or nylon are the most popular options.
The most important consideration of course is who’s wearing it. Leads and collars must be comfortable for your dog. The pressure against the delicate neck area can be uncomfortable with a poorly fitted collar and lead.
A dog who is being trained or who routinely pulls away is better off with a standard lead during training, while your well-trained animal may enjoy a retractable version for greater freedom.
If you’re worried about putting a lead on your dog, talk to your vet about the style that would work best for them.
With your armory of training tricks and tips at your fingertips, it’s time to get out there with your dog and turn a few heads with your beautifully controlled obedient walking partner.