Sometimes your dog just wants to head in a different direction to you. When you’ve got more time on your hands, you might be more open to trying a different route or even letting your dog decide the way, but sometimes you’ll need to take charge and change the direction with your pup. Or, perhaps you stopped for a minute or two but it’s time to get moving again, and you want your dog to know that.
If you’ve got a stubborn dog, you might find yourself pulling on the leash and trying to persuade your pet to co-operate. Perhaps you’ve been in a situation where they’ve simply sat down and refused to move. It's hardly good dog walking etiquette!
Fortunately, there are ways to help your dog learn when you want to change direction. For Julianna DeWillems, owner and head trainer at JW Dog Training & Behavior, the “with me” cue is invaluable in encouraging your dog to co-operate. In a clip posted to Instagram, which you can view below, DeWillems shows how the cue can be effective when walking your dog.
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Introduce “with me” at home with some of your pet's favorite dog treats on hand for the best results. Drop a treat on the ground and walk away while your dog eats it. When they finish the treat and follow you, give them a click and then another treat. And repeat these steps until they’re running to catch up with you once they finish their treat.
Then, you can start saying “with me” as your dog finishes the treat on the ground. When your dog begins to catch up with you, mark with a click and then give them the treat when they get to you. Keep practising until your dog runs to join you when they hear you say “with me”.
Eventually, you can start to practice on the leash, and then on walks, gradually increasing the number of distractions. Reinforcement is important, “especially if we are asking our dog to move away from something they would prefer to do instead,” says DeWillems.
“It’s important to teach our dogs that “with me” reliably predicts a small tasty treat for them,” she continues. “This is why we always stash a handful of treats in our pocket for walks.” Treats can work for recall too, but they're especially effective for keeping your pooch by your side.
In the video posted, a dog is walking with his parent outside, and his parent isn’t holding the leash. While the video is from earlier in the teaching phase, the dog willingly follows his parent when she uses the verbal cue, and doesn’t stay focused on any distractions for too long.
It’s not something your dog will learn overnight, and it’ll take plenty of practice together at home before you’ll be able to see the effects on your walks, but it’ll be well worth it.
Looking for more great walking tips? Then be sure to check out three of the most common loose leash walking mistakes (and how to fix them).
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Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.