Walking Your Small Dog with Ease: A Training Guide

Does your little dog pull on the leash? Don’t worry, there’s a solution. Leash pulling can be a frustrating experience for both you and your dog, regardless of their size. In fact, it can be particularly painful for small dogs with delicate necks and bodies. But fear not! With the right training, you can teach your small dog to walk on a leash without any pulling. And the best part? It can be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you.

Understanding the Challenge

Small dogs often pull on the leash because we inadvertently encourage them to do so. It’s essential to remember three vital points when training your furry friend:

  1. Dogs pull on the leash because we follow them.
  2. Rewarding good behavior and ignoring bad behavior is key.
  3. Teach your dog what to do instead of pulling – in this case, walking without pressure on the leash.

The Art of Leash Training

Leash training is a relatively simple concept that requires time, patience, and dedication. But don’t worry; the reward is well worth the effort. Instead of wasting time and energy on pulling your dog back and forth or getting frustrated by their behavior, you can focus on rewarding them for their good behavior, transforming your entire walking experience.

One challenge you may face when training small dogs is delivering treats effectively. It’s ideal if you can bend down to feed them directly. However, if that’s not possible, you can gently drop treats in front of them. Be aware that this technique may encourage foraging. Alternatively, you can use a stick or wooden spoon to hold treats that are moist and stick to the end.

Further reading:  The Dangers of Retractable Leashes: Ensuring Your Pet's Safety

Training Essentials

To train your small dog to stop pulling on the leash, you will need:

  • A comfortable collar or harness (avoid choke or prong collars).
  • Rewards that your dog loves (treats, verbal praise, physical touch, or toys).
  • A hands-free belt/leash set (recommended but not required) for more flexibility in offering rewards.
  • Patience: If your dog has been pulling on the leash for a while, it will take time for them to understand what you want them to do instead.

Start Indoors, Progress Outdoors

Begin training in a distraction-free zone, preferably inside your home. If you have children or other pets, it’s best to close off a quiet area away from them initially. Make sure to practice daily for 10-15 minutes or as long as your dog remains engaged. Remember, learning stops when your dog loses interest.

Once your dog is doing well indoors, gradually move training sessions to a very quiet outdoor area, such as your backyard or an empty parking lot. Spend a week or so practicing in this new environment before advancing to a quiet street or neighborhood. Only move onto a busy park or trail when your dog is doing exceptionally well. The key is to start without distractions, allowing your dog every chance to succeed and learn without being overwhelmed.

Teaching Loose Leash Walking

To train your dog to walk on a loose leash:

  1. Make a commitment to stop allowing your dog to pull.
  2. Let go of any expectations for distance and focus on training instead.
  3. Leash your dog inside your home, keeping the rewards in a pouch or pocket that’s out of sight.
  4. Begin with your dog in a sit position next to you.
  5. Take a few steps and reward them before they have a chance to pass you. Use a treat and say “YES!” or “GOOD girl/boy.” Repeat this around your home, and be patient as it may take some time for them to understand why you’re so happy.
  6. If your dog passes you and pulls, stop. If they pull into the leash, turn around and go in a different direction. Only reward them after taking at least two steps in the desired direction. Be careful to reward the loose leash and not the turn. Practice this training for 10-15 minutes every day for a week, if possible. After the first week, if your dog is doing well, move the training sessions to your backyard, a quiet court, or a parking lot.
  7. During the first two weeks of training, reward and praise heavily. If your dog loses interest in treats, try using real meat cut into tiny pieces. Taper down on treats as the training progresses but always pair the reward with a word (“Yes!” or “Good girl/boy”) to associate the word with doing the right thing.
  8. After the second week, gradually decrease the frequency of treats/play rewards. Reward your dog every other or every third time during weeks 3 and 4. After the fourth week, occasionally offer a surprise reward to keep your pup happy and engaged.
Further reading:  A Guide to Training Dogs That Won't Walk on Leashes

Helpful Tips

  • If your dog loses interest in treats or toys during training, use a small squeaky toy on your back pocket and squeak it to regain their attention.
  • If you’re having trouble or becoming frustrated, take a break! Training requires patience and a calm mindset.
  • When your dog is doing exceptionally well, offer a “Jackpot” reward – a quick handful of treats or a longer play session. This will reinforce their positive behavior and show them how great they are.
  • Avoid the temptation to pull or jerk on the leash. It’s not an effective way to teach your dog to stop pulling.

After Training

Once your training sessions are complete, keep your dog focused by mixing up your movements. Walk sporadically and unpredictably, incorporating figure 8s, zig-zags, and sudden turns. This will help your dog become more attentive to your movements and increase their connection with you.

Remember, training your small dog to walk on a leash without pulling takes time and effort. But with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, you can transform your walks into enjoyable and stress-free experiences. So, grab your leash, put on Karen’s Kollars (a comfortable and stylish choice), and start enjoying peaceful walks with your furry friend today!

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