New Puppy refusing to walk on leash?
This is a very common problem in almost every puppy home I visit, so I wanted to share some tips and problem solving ideas on how to try overcome this problem.
1. While you are waiting for your puppies vaccination schedule to be complete and before you can take them for a walk, have them used to wearing their collar and lead in the house and garden. It is a good idea to start with the collar first, when your puppy has adjusted to this add the lead and don't forget your puppies disc with your telephone number. I like small plastic tags that don't make a noise so less likely have a loud noise that may scare or upset your puppy. If you get your puppy used to their lead and collar first, this means that on your puppies first walk, they don't have to take in the overwhelming big scary world along with some very strange new equipment put on them.
2. Be aware of opposition reflex, what this means is that if you pull your puppy one way, they will want to pull the other way. Lots of agility handlers take advantage of this to build speed and drive, probably not something you want on your walks. So you need to keep a nice loose lead and rather than pull your puppy, circle around them and make the kissy nose to encourage them to walk with you. When they start to walk, toss your treat AHEAD of you.
3. Reward placement and timing is important, so they best way to encourage your puppy to walk is by rewarding them for walking and not by pulling them, but we need to ensure that every time our puppy stops that we don't put hands in a pocket or treat pouch to encourage them to move. This could accidentally encourage stopping and sitting down as the stopping is then associated with reward. So you can use a trick that they know like a hand touch, or ask another member of the family to walk on ahead to encourage them to walk and then take the reward and offer it to them ONLY once they have moved.
4. Fear can also play a huge factor with small puppies, the world can be a scary place, so its important to assess if your puppy might be scared or worried and build their confidence up consistently and slowly with lots of very short sessions and building up the amount of stimulation in the environment. So what that means is walking on the street with lots of people, children, traffic may be overwhelming to a puppy but taking them to a quiet part of a park with a reduction of traffic and people to start to build their confidence. Of course we must expose them to everything including street walking and traffic but just be mindful its not too much at once, slowly and consistently build up.
5. Be mindful of little growing bodies and joints, often the length of the walk can just too long for such a young baby and they get tired and need breaks. If you have ever tried to get a toddler to walk at your pace for any kind of duration, you will know what I mean! There is no hard and fast rule for just how long your puppy should be walked but the general rule is 5 minute for every month of their age but that doesn't mean you can only take your 4 month old puppy out for 20 minutes, you can stay out longer of course but do some training, let them sniff the trees, bushes and move at a pace that is comfortable to them. Take them to walk on different surfaces like in woods, gravel, grass and on sand.
If you need more help training your puppy, I offer puppy and dog training nationwide online via Zoom and I do in home visits around Dublin and East Meath. The quickest way to get in touch is usually via whatsapp on 0857317129 or visit my website www.laurajenningsdogservices.com. You can find me on facebook www.facebook.com/laurasdublindogwalking and instagram @laurajenningsdogservices too for more helpful tips and videos.
Laura Jennings dipCABT, CAPBT, ICAN
Tel: 085 731 7129