Puppies need lots of opportunity to explore the environment, since the whole world is brand new to them! Sniffing is good for their brain, and puppies also lack the impulse control to resist following every new scent they encounter. Practice giving them free reign to sniff, but do not let them move forward if they are pulling, as that would be rewarding pulling. If you want your puppy to follow you, prompt them with your voice, and then reward them with a treat right by your leg. As they get older, you can ask for more following than sniffing, but while they are young, puppy walks should be at the puppy’s own pace (likely slow). Don’t get too caught up in thinking you are going to cover a certain amount of distance with your puppy. Leash pressure will also be a relatively new sensation for them to cope with, which can be stressful, and allowing them to set the pace will help acclimate them to the leash with the least amount of stress.
Bring treats with for every single walk outside with your puppy. You never know when you might encounter something new & spooky or when you’ll need to practice your obedience skills.
If your puppy picks up something unsafe on your walk, practice saying “Trade ya!” and sticking a big handful of yummy treats in their nose. If the puppy doesn’t go for the treats, you can scatter them on the ground. If the puppy has a hard time with this, practice inside first by giving the random objects like socks and hats, then trading them for food.
Walk With Me (Up to 3:00) - Grisha Stewart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4caLivNlyDs
Another Short Grisha Stewart Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaA8n_6fBsc
Leash Manners - Loose Leash Walking
Walking with your dog is an important part of everyday life. Dogs need daily walks for mental and physical stimulation, socialization, and bonding time with us. The first part of walking with your dog is teaching her to follow you on leash. This is much like dancing with your dog and you want to be the lead of the dance. You are teaching your dog to move in sync with you, to go where you go, turn when you turn, and stop when you stop. It is easiest to teach this concept first while facing your dog. Then, once your dog understands the concept, you can start practicing side-by-side. If at any point the behavior falls apart, go back to your point of success by facing your dog again.
Because the outdoor sights, sounds, and smells can be distracting for a dog, this skill will take continued practice.
Good Puppy Goal: PUPPY can follow, turn, stop, and sit with you on one side, with a loose leash and on cue, for 15 steps.
1. Get the Behavior
Facing Your Dog Action # 1 - Following You: Face PUPPY and start walking backwards. When she follows you … C/T! Build up to 15 seconds of PUPPY following you in a straight line …C/T!
Facing Your Dog Action # 2 - Turning with You: Start walking backwards with PUPPY, and then turn left or right. When PUPPY turns ... C/T!
Facing Your Dog Action # 3 – Stop-n-Sitting with You: Start walking backwards with PUPPY, stop and say "sit." When PUPPY stops and sits ... C/T!
Side-By-Side with Your Dog Training Tip: Before beginning this exercise, you will need to pick which side you want PUPPY to walk on; this will help with consistency. Position your treat pouch on the side PUPPY will be walking on, and hold your clicker and leash in the opposite hand.
Side-By-Side with Your Dog Action #1 - Following You: Start walking backwards with PUPPY, and then pivot 180 degrees so that you and your dog are now facing forward, with your dog on the designated side with your treats. When PUPPY walks beside you C/T! Build up to 15 seconds of PUPPY walking beside you in a straight line …C/T!
Side-By-Side with Your Dog Action #2 - Turning with You: Start walking side-by-side with PUPPY, and then turn left or right. When PUPPY turns …C/T!
Side-By-Side with Your Dog Action #3 – Stop-n-Sitting with You: Start walking side-by-side with PUPPY, and then stop and say "sit." When PUPPY stops-n-sits … C/T!
2. Label the Behavior
Verbal Cue: "Close" or "Heel"
Hand Signal: two leg pats
Say or sign the cue just before PUPPY goes into position beside you … C/T!
Adding Distraction: When you have practiced and perfected all of these steps inside your home, go through all of the steps again in more and more difficult situations. Practice in your backyard, then your front yard, then the sidewalk, then your block, then at the park, then downtown, etc etc etc. Remember to set PUPPY up for success by making all steps manageable for her — if he has any trouble, take a step backwards in training, even if you have to start at square one (which you will likely have to do whenever you switch locations).
Troubleshooting common challenges…
"My puppy doesn't want to walk! She just sits down when we go out." Contrary to popular belief, young puppies don't always just naturally want to go on walks. Puppies want to sniff, play, and explore. Where's the fun in walking in a straight line? We need to teach puppies that walking is actually a very enjoyable way to both see the world and get some exercise. If PUPPY is "planting," work on getting her very excited about following you. You can do this by increasing your speed or using your voice in a more animated way. Remember, if training is a contest of wills, we are going to lose… We can't tell puppies that they have to walk with us… We need to show them that they actually love to walk with us!
"What do I do if my puppy gets to the end of the leash and starts pulling?" If PUPPY runs out in front of you, don't let her get to the end of the leash. Instead, turn around, call her excitedly, and start heading in the opposite direction (a U-turn). As soon as she catches up, click and treat. If PUPPY does make it to the end of the leash, however, and you can't get her attention after one or two tries, make like a tree — just stand and wait patiently for her to look at you. And then, when she does remember that you are there, click, treat, and head in the opposite direction.
"But she's still pulling!" If PUPPY repeatedly gets to the end of the leash, it's likely due to one of two things: she is either very, very excited or the desirable behavior (walking by your side) is not getting rewarded with enough frequency. In the case of the former, try exercising PUPPY off-leash before you start working. Some puppies just need to get out their ya-yas before they can think straight. In the case of the latter, reward much more frequently.
"When I've got someplace to go, I don't always have time to work on loose leash walking — I just want to get where I'm going." Practice makes perfect. If PUPPY gets to practice undesirable behavior on some walks and not others, loose-leash walking will be much more difficult. If you have a place to go (say to the dog park where PUPPY can run around off-leash), either plan enough time to train on the walk, or drive/carry PUPPY to where you're going.
"I'm spending a lot of time walking back and forth over the same stretch of sidewalk." This is OK! But if you feel the need to keep moving one one direction, after you do the U-turn to get PUPPY back by your side, do another U-turn to continue the direction you were originally headed.
Puppy pet sitting is NOT a training program for “formal” obedience skill and manners. That being said, anyone caring for the puppy should absolutely be consistent with whatever work the puppy’s parent is putting in to teach them good manners.
-Ignore barking, biting, and jumping, etc.
-If the owner tells you they are having their puppy sit before doorways, you can do the same.
If an owner requests that you teach the puppy a new skill or drill their obedience skills, they should be referred to a training program.
Anyone interacting with the puppy should do their best not to undo the training that the owner (or another trainer) has put in. This means no reinforcing a dog for undesirable behaviors, like petting a dog for jumping on you. This also means no repeating commands like “sit” or constantly asking for a behavior like “sit” and not rewarding for it -- that would devalue the behavior.
*** Pet sitters: Ignore unwanted behaviors! Redirect the dog from unwanted behavior! Prevent the situation next time! Reward nice behaviors! ***
*** “Puppy biting” is very normal. Puppies explore the world with their mouths and often haven’t learned yet that humans don’t like being bit. That being said, lots of puppies cannot handle lots of petting or attention without becoming aroused and biting. So, a lot of puppies need very calm and boring interactions from humans in order to prevent hard mouthing. If a puppy is mouthing too hard, redirect them to a toy, stand up and walk away from them, or give them a short time-out somehow, so that they can calm down.***
Puppies and adolescent dogs have critical learning periods, also referred to as sensitive periods or fear periods. It is important that they are not just exposed to new things during this time, but that they are having positive or at least neutral experiences during their exposure.
Socialization is not just about having your puppy interact with all kinds of people and dogs. In fact, for most dogs, it is preferable for their socialization to be about being so confident and engaged with the human handler that they can see something without feeling the need to interact with it.
When your puppy is experiencing a new site, sound, surface, event, etc., it is important to read their body language. If they are fearful, give them enough distance from the new thing for them to be able to process the information comfortably. That means do a U-turn and coax your puppy away, even if they are stuck staring or barking in fear. If they are conflicted and moving back and forth towards the new thing, give them time to think about it. Reward them for whatever effort they put forward. Scary things can become un-scary when paired with food.
People: It’s nice for your puppy to make new friends, but even just seeing all different kinds of people walk down the street is good socialization. If someone is meeting your puppy, make sure that they are not being overwhelming with their greeting. Ask the person to be calm, cool, and collected when saying hi. Sometimes it is helpful to just have them feed the dog a treat instead of petting them, since the average person tends to become over-excited about greeting puppies. Over-excited strangers can scare a puppy OR make the puppy develop a habit of being overly excited and out of control during greetings.
Other Dogs: There is a huge amount of benefit to allowing your puppy to play with other dogs, from exercise and enrichment to learning good social skills and life lessons from animals that “speak their language”.
Finding controlled settings for your puppy to meet other dogs, like organized puppy socials, private lessons with a trainer, or becoming buddies with other puppies in your neighborhood (particularly if you or they have a backyard!) is the way to go.
Meeting dogs on-leash tends to create frustration, overarousal, or fear, and many dogs end up becoming “leash-reactive” largely due to meeting other dogs on leash.
Likewise, taking a puppy to a dog park can easily lead to them being bullied by out-of-control dogs, traumatize them during their sensitive learning period, and cause them to develop behavioral problems.
SEEING other dogs on walks and learning that they are not going to bother them is great socialization for a puppy. Practice rewarding your puppy for seeing other dogs and looking back at you. This is great for practicing getting your puppy’s attention.
***Pet sitters: Meeting other dogs on-leash should be avoided, as it is an unnecessary and high-risk activity for puppies.***
When to Refer to Training Program
If problem behavior in a puppy seems to get worse instead of better, you can refer to DANW’s training program.
If a puppy’s parents expresses frustration or not knowing what to do about their puppy’s behavior, you can refer to DANW’s training program.
If a puppy’s behavior makes you feel “in over your head,” you can refer to DANW’s training program.
If you suspect a puppy’s behavior might be abnormal -- from extreme fear to extreme overarousal -- you can refer to DANW’s training program.