Walking a dog can sometimes be a challenge, especially if you have a curious puppy that just has to explore everything and loses all its senses when it spots an innocent bird lazing in the sun. Therefore, you need to train the pup to walk on a leash and obey certain rules at all times.
If you’re operating a dog walking business, chances are you’ll be dealing with dogs of all kinds of temperaments and sizes. Not all pups will have the training and obedience that’s needed for you to take them out on walks without problems. So, the following are some of the skills that will prove to be very helpful in handling puppies before and during walking sessions.
Dog Walker 101
Leash Training Tips
The first step in training a puppy for walks is to introduce it to the collar and leash. In some states, it’s illegal to walk a dog without a leash. A leash and collar is also required so that your dog doesn’t chase a bird and disappear off into the sunset, or wander off during walks. Some dog owners leash train their canine companions at an early age. However, it’s possible as a dog walker that you’ll come across pups that have never been leash trained. In such cases, knowing how to make a new pup accept the leash and collar is important.
Some dogs take to a leash and collar easily while others don’t. Therefore, the key is to associate collar and leash with positive feelings. The best time to slip on the leash is when the pup is feeding, playing, or receiving affection from you. If the pup shows resistance when you’re trying to put on the collar and leash, try using toys and treats to create a more relaxing ambiance.
Ensure that the leash is snug but not too tight that it causes discomfort. Keep in mind also that a young pup will be more comfortable with a light, flat collar and lightweight leash.
Always Take the Lead
Ideally, you want to be the one who leads the dog when going for walks and not the other way around. Walking in front allows you to be seen as the pack leader. This may seem a bit challenging when dealing with an adult dog, but it should be a bit easier when walking a tiny puppy. All you have to do is walk a few steps ahead of the pup. When he/she inevitably starts to pull, turn and walk in the opposite direction. You can reinforce the learning experience by rewarding the pup with praises or treats when it follows.
Teaching a pup how to walk at heel for the very first time can take some time, though. Therefore, it may be a good idea to practice loose-leash walking around the yard before heading out to explore the neighborhood and dog parks.
Obedience Training Tips
The ability to train pups to be obedient is an important skill that any professional dog walker should have. In fact, your dog walking business will depend on it. You should be prepared to work with other dog owners in teaching their pups basic commands such as “sit,” “come,” “down,” “stay,” and “heel.” Everyone involved in the training should use the same words and gestures. Being consistent in this manner will prevent confusion for the dog. Trained puppies will be much easier to control during walks.
One of the best ways to teach pups basic commands is the “Ask, Tell and Command” method. So, you would begin the training by asking the pup to do something such as “here boy”. Tell the pup to do it again but with a firm voice if he doesn’t comply the first time. If that still doesn’t work, repeat the command and pull the puppy to you. Whether the pup comes to you willingly or you have to bring him over, offer praise immediately. This will help to associate completing the action with a reward, and next time he may comply without refusing or hesitating.
Things to Bring on a Walk
If you’re planning an extended walk, remember to bring water for the puppy, especially if it’s hot outside. A drinking bowl can also come in handy as some dogs find it hard to drink directly from a bottle. In addition, don’t forget to bring along dog treats. Playing games or rewarding the puppy with water and other treats is a good way to associate walks with fun.
In conclusion, it’s important to point out that it takes time to prepare a young pup for outdoor walks. So, take your time and keep your cool, but be persistent in the training to achieve the desired results.