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Use the same approach when you get ready to take your dog for a walk. Ask your dog to do a behavior, such as a sit, while he has his leash put on. Treat your pet while he remains in the sitting position to make this easier when you are first training. The dog will learn that the leash is only clipped on when he remains in a sit. Since the leash is associated with getting to go out on a walk, for some extremely excitable walkers, the clipping on of the leash is reward in and of itself.
If your dog starts acting excited and jumping when you get the leash out, simply wait until he calms down and then re-prompt the sit. The more low-key and quiet you can be, the more easily your pet will calm down.
The next step is to begin walking toward the front door. If your dog starts jumping, pulling, vocalizing or showing other excitable behaviors, simply stand and wait for a calm behavior from him, like all four feet on the floor, sitting or going into a down. This should continue all the way to the door. You can also use treats to reward your dog for walking calmly at your side in a heeling position; this will give him an alternative behavior to do in place of excitable antics.
When you get to the door, teach your dog to exert self-control by having him wait at the door. The “wait” at the door is best taught in a separate training session when the dog is already calm, but once it is learned, it should be employed when the dog is let outside on walks. If you haven’t yet taught “wait” at the door, you can simply stand by the door and wait for calm behavior, such as a sit or a down, and immediately reward by opening the door to go out on your walk.
Remember that you are training your pet even while you’re out on walks. You may be inadvertently training your pooch to pull on the leash by allowing him to move forward when the leash is tight. When your time is limited, it’s often best to use a management tool like a front-clip harness or a head halter that will lessen pulling and won’t reinforce the behavior for the dog until you have the time to teach your dog to walk on a loose leash. If your dog has never learned to heel or walk on a loose leash, it’s best taught when the dog is already calm, just like any new behavior, which likely will be at the end of a walk.
Though the end of his walk may be best for teaching advanced training concepts, it’s critical that your canine learn to display calmer behavior all day in your home and before his walks. The more calm behavior is reinforced, the more likely it will occur and the better able he will be to respond to training at any time of the day, even before the walk begins.
Your ultimate training goal is to have a well-behaved and calm canine whether you’re at home, on walks or out in public places. It is essential that you emphasize each day that calm, well-mannered behavior pays off in your household. We are always training our dogs, whether we realize it or not, and most of the time our training isn’t done in a structured training session, but in simple everyday interactions.
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