Something every dog owner and new parent will be able to relate to is the struggle of walking their pup with a baby in tow.
Dogs and babies can become the best of friends, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when you’re doing your best to steer a stroller but your four-legged friend wants to run off in every direction.
However, according to expert dog trainer and behaviorist Amelia Steele, also known as Amelia the Dog Trainer, there’s something you can do to make your walks with both dog and baby a whole lot easier.
In a recent video she shared on Instagram, she begins by standing still and holding Bowie the dog’s leash, waiting for him to look up at her. She then rewards him for doing so and making eye contact with some of the best dog treats, explaining that it helps him to keep his focus during the walk – he’s already paying attention to her.
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She then continues to keep rewarding him for staying by her side, or at the side of the stroller, rather than trying to pull on the lead or run in front of the stroller. “I’m then increasing the time between those treats,” she explains, “So that he can walk a little bit more consistently without me having to treat him every single step.
“Once we’ve nailed the walking, I’m then focusing on teaching him to stop when I stop. And this is just so you don’t have a dog that is lunging and barking every time you stop to talk to someone."
She then explains that it’s a good idea to practice this in different environments to help build your pup’s confidence, before you work on training your dog to walk nicely by the stroller even when other dogs are around. Follow the same steps as before, rewarding your dog for eye contact even before you start walking, and rewarding them frequently to begin with.
And remember, there’s no harm in taking your dog on a walk with the stroller even if the baby isn’t in it! You might feel a little self-conscious pushing an empty stroller, but it means you can focus solely on training your pup without a baby to attend to as well. If you’re expecting a baby, it’s worth doing some work to train your dog with the stroller before the baby arrives, too.
Even if you haven’t got a stroller to contend with, it can still be a good idea to train your dog to walk nicely alongside you, particularly if they have a tendency to pull on their leash. It’ll certainly make your walks much easier!
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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.