You’re walking your dog on their leash and it’s all going well, but then you need to stop. Perhaps you’ve dropped something, you need to check your phone, or you’re saying hello to somebody.
Your dog, however, decides to keep walking, leaving you in a rush to catch back up with them. It’s something many dog parents are familiar with, and it can be frustrating.
But fortunately, you can train your dog to also stop walking when you stop! And as expert trainer and founder of JW Dog Training & Behavior has explained in a recent Instagram post, it’s not too difficult to do – it’ll just take a little bit of your time, and some of the best dog treats, too…
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“To start,” says DeWillems, “The moment I stop walking, I place a treat on the ground directly next to my foot. Placing a treat down causes the dog to stop, which is exactly the behavior I want.”
DeWillems explains that she does this repeatedly, getting the dog used to stopping. Then, she begins to see if the dog will stop on their own, anticipating her putting the treat down. She says, “I pause for a brief second and the moment he comes to a stop, I mark the behavior with “Yes!” and then put the treat down.”
She continues, “His stopping behavior is starting to emerge when I stop walking, which tells me the cue is now me stopping, and that’s exactly what I want.”
However, she explains that more practice will be needed at home before trying it on walks – but it might not take too long for your pup to get the hang of it. Here are 12 clever ways to have more fun with your dog on walks in the meantime!
Meanwhile, DeWillems explains that it’s a good idea to make sure your pup has good focus on leash before you try this exercise with your pup. This is because you want your dog to notice when you place the treat down – and, it’s important to place, rather than drop, the treat.
And don’t forget that praise is key. As well as giving your dog a treat each time they stop, marking their stopping behavior with a verbal cue helps too.
Eventually, you’ll be able to try training your pup to stop when you stop outside. Just bring plenty of treats with you, and remember not to be too frustrated if your pup isn’t perfect each time.
Even if they’ve mastered it at home where there aren’t as many distractions, it can be more difficult outside with so many sights, smells, and sounds.
If teaching your dog to stop is something you’re aiming to do, you might also find this article useful: Teaching my dog to 'stop' was the best thing I ever did, here's why.
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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.