Want to make the most of spring with your pup? Here’s how to get them used to the crowds

Dog being put on leash in busy place
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When spring arrives and the days begin to get warmer and longer, many of us like to spend more time outside with our pups. Whether it’s longer walks, trips to the dog park, or just regular errands, you might find yourself doing more things outside with your dog. 

However, plenty of other people and pets will likely have the same idea, meaning that there will be more distractions for your pup to contend with when out and about during the spring, from other dogs to children to cyclists. So, there’s no time like the present to help train your dog so they’ll get used to the crowds when it comes to grabbing one of the best dog leashes and heading out in public. And Juliana DeWillems, an expert trainer and founder of JW Dog Training & Behavior, has explained what you might want to try in a recent Instagram post.

“Spring has sprung which means there are going to be more distractions than ever when you’re out and about with your dog,” DeWillems begins in the video. So, she recommends brushing up on training sooner rather than later to provide a refresher for skills you and your dog perhaps didn’t need as often in the winter, when everything was quieter. Here are practical tips for training your dog on your own, in case it’s just you and your pup. 

“Those first few days of spring can be brutal if you have a dog who is sensitive to distractions or triggers,” explains DeWillems in her caption. “Even the most well-adjusted dog can have a hard time with all the sudden stimuli!”

She showcases one particular exercise in the video, where she rewards the dog she’s working with for calmly watching people, pups, and other distractions, explaining that this can be a great way to improve skills – and training dogs with treats is always a safe bet! Ideally, it’s best to start doing so as soon as you can, before we get into the summer and places get even busier. 

DeWillems says that, for reactive dogs in particular, it pays off to be creative when it comes to avoiding the crowds. You might decide to walk your pup at less popular times or choose less popular routes. “Preparing for spring as a reactive dog guardian might be less about brushing up on skills and more about planning ahead to avoid all the triggers,” she continues.

If your dog is reactive, you might find this article useful: I trained as a dog behaviorist to better understand my reactive dog, and it totally transformed our bond.

Adam England
Freelance Writer

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.