The most common mistake people make when trying to tempt a stalled dog is to lure the dog forward with a treat – but that’s bribery! In fact, it is only reinforcing more stalling behavior. Instead, first try to use happy, repetitive noises and thigh slaps to excite some forward movement. If this doesn’t work, then use a time-out, stepping on the leash and turning your back on your dog. After 15 seconds or so, say, “OK, let’s go!” and start forward. Some dogs will forget why they stopped in the first place. Once your pooch starts to move forward, use happy chatter and highly rewarding treats to encourage and reinforce walking behavior. Gradually you’ll be able to fade the treats, as you will have built good walking habit but, when you first start out, be generous!
* Note: Try not to pull on leash, especially from the front – this very often causes the stalling behavior for a dog who is not used to the feel of the leash yet.
* Additional note: For social dogs, including another dog on walks with them can offer them a role model for walking while also making walks a fun, social activity.
Laura Garber, CPDT-KA
Behavior Manager, Pennsylvania SPCA
Laura believes strongly in strengthening the bond between human and companion animal. For this reason, she regards training as an exercise in building relationship rather than obedience. Such an approach promises greater understanding and symbiosis within our family packs.