Did you know it's National Walk Your Pet Month AND National Train Your Pet Month?? The only reason I can think of that January is National Walk Your Pet Month is that the person who came up with it lived somewhere it never snows. In Kansas City, we've had about a foot of snow - but that shouldn't keep you from Walking Your Dog!
When Cooper was a puppy, we had to go on walks every day. We were in an apartment with very little outside space and no access to a dog park. So I had to make sure he walked well on a leash early. Here's a few things I learned:
1. Get the right equipment.
Each dog is different and will prefer different fits of collars or harnesses. But the one thing that I always did was train Cooper to know that these special items mean walkies or car rides - and both end in fun! I personally used this no-pull harness. I like the adjustability for Cooper as he grew, and I liked that it feels secure (especially for my super bendy/Houdini-esque Border Collie). I also opted for the 6 ft leash you see above. It allowed more control and confidence.
2. Praise Often!
Many times we correct bad behavior instead of enforcing good behavior. Find what motivates your dog - treats, toys, praise, etc - and use it! The best way to do this is with an audible signal like a clicker or the click of your tongue. When they are doing well, click then treat/praise. It's worked wonders for Cooper! And if you need some treats, Cooper recommends his Cooper's Carrot Treats.
3. Practice Indoors.
Before we took it outside, we had time for Cooper to adjust to his harness and leash and for me to work on commands/clicking. This allowed a distraction-free environment to enforce those good behaviors. Before we knew it, we were walking pros. Although, Cooper did have some people reactivity. In those instances, I redirected his focus to me and continued to praise as he focused on me.
Teaching a dog to walk nicely on a leash takes time - so be patient and have a plan, but most of all have fun with your dog! It's all about spending time together.
Tell us your "trick" to walking your dog below!