Teach Your Dog to Ride in a Stroller
Published on July 09, 2012
Imagine peering into a stranger's stroller and seeing not the expected baby but a 30-pound ball of fur, sharp canines and a wagging tail peering back at you. While a dog riding in a stroller may be startling at first, strollers and other forms of wheeled transportation are becoming more popular in the canine world.
Strollers aren't just cute — they're functional. A stroller, wagon or trailer can be helpful for elderly dogs or those with injuries or physical limitations. Dogs who can’t safely withstand the heat, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, may also benefit from the shade a stroller provides. A stroller can make running errands with your dog more convenient, especially in the summer when it’s hazardous to leave canines in the car. Jogging strollers or bike trailers allow pooches to enjoy the company of their athletic humans even if they can’t run the distance themselves. And then there are dogs, like my first dog, Scooter, a Wire Haired Fox Terrier, who just plain loved the thrill of the ride.
Teach Your Pooch to Enjoy the Ride
Introduce the stroller at home. Bring the stroller into your house or backyard, someplace with minimal distractions; secure the wheels so that they won’t move. Either pick your dog up and place him in the stroller or lure him in with a treat. Once he is inside, scatter treats around to encourage him to investigate the space and to associate it with good things. Long-lasting chew toys or food puzzles stuffed with canned dog food or peanut butter are an excellent way to encourage your dog to settle in for long rides in the stroller.
Make sure your dog is secure. When you take your dog out in a stroller, make sure he is appropriately secured, to prevent him from running away if he falls or jumps out of the stroller. Some modes of doggy transportation have areas designed for clipping a leash, while others require the handler to hold the leash. In either case, the leash should be secured to a back-clip harness to prevent it from choking the dog if it gets caught on something. If your dog is likely to jump out of the stroller, opt for one with a covering, such as secure netting that will hold him in.
Start out slowly. Some dogs may be nervous when the stroller starts to move. For this reason, only push or pull your pooch a few inches to start, and reward him with praise and treats for remaining calm. If he continues to stay calm, move the stroller a few more inches before you reward your dog. Work on building the distance you push your pup between treats. Ultimately, you want your dog to love going for rides because he knows that he gets something good when he rides calmly in his stroller. Phase out the treats once your dog is accustomed to riding in the stroller; replace them with praise or a food toy at the beginning of the trip, such as a stuffed Kong.
Take your pooch on the road. Once your dog has mastered riding calmly in a minimal distraction environment, move on to places with more distractions. Start small: Visit your front yard or take a stroll around your neighborhood. Before you go for a big outing, make your dog's stroller more comfortable by adding plush bedding or even an article of your own previously worn clothing to help him feel at home.
With gradual introduction and the use of positive rewards, your dog will be enjoying his puppy stroller in no time flat.