The Leash Walking Struggle

When I first got Ayla, I had four days of perfect leash-walking, and then several weeks of Ayla being a completely stubborn ass and me having to drag her along.¬†Walking was my best means of wearing her out, and I had been told, “a tired puppy is a good puppy,” but Ayla wasn’t winning the crate battle and she still had plenty of sass to spare.
If I wanted to go one direction during our outside leash walks, Ayla would dig in her heels and refuse to move. She did this even if it was a direction she wanted to go – like back into the house to get out of the pouring rain. We were both walking towards the front door and I got ahead of her to open the door, and then it was almost as if she thought, “Woah! You want to go inside, eh? Well, I have just decided, I do not!”
puppy in raincoat
Ayla in her raincoat on walk with her dog walker.
I have routinely been told that the best method for training German Pinschers is to make it into a game and let them think it was their idea. I did try several rewards based games to encourage outdoor walking. I kept a handful of small treats in my pocket and would chuck them in the direction we were moving, so that she’d have to run ahead after the treats. Proving exactly how stubborn she could be, Ayla forwent food in exchange for rebellion (and she loves food.) I asked a friend who works at a doggy daycare and volunteers with a rescue for advice. Said friend recommended smearing peanut butter on a wooden spoon and luring the puppy with the spoon. Ayla wasn’t interested in peanut butter. We tried cheese wiz. That worked slightly better, until Ayla realized that I wasn’t planning to give her the spoon.
We also practiced indoor walking both on-leash and off-leash. I lured Ayla around my living room with treats encouraging her to “follow” me. She was really good at that. But as soon as we went outside and attempted the same practices, she’d refuse to budge. She had decided she wanted to explore on her own dime when we were outside. I wouldn’t allow it. So for several weeks, I basically dragged her around the neighborhood (I have no idea what the neighbors thought when they saw us) while trying many of the techniques mentioned above.
ayla walking on leash
Ayla out walking with her dog walker
Finally, one day, while Googling for other solutions – it was hard to find answers for puppies who slammed on the breaks as opposed to puppies who pulled – I found a YouTube video by a dog trainer that tackled my exact issue. Rather than dragging your dog along, this trainer recommended that when if dog suddenly threw on the brakes, you should stop, pause for three seconds, and then give their harness/collar a little pop. Coupling that with verbal praise for good walking, and a small treat for moving after the pop, this technique was literally the turning point in our leash walking woes. Within a week, Ayla was walking on leash on her own volition and I no longer had to drag her in the direction I wanted to walk.

However, even after I got Ayla walking on a leash, there were some days – basically, any cold or rainy day – where her stubborn tendencies returned. If Ayla could talk, this would have been our conversation one of those mornings.

Me: “Okay, let’s go for a walk!”
Her: “No, I am fine. Really.”
Me: *Puts on Ayla’s sweater, her coat, & the leash.*
Her: *Starts shivering.*
Me: “See this is why I don’t buy it when you do this outside. I don’t think you are really that cold, because you weren’t cold inside until you realized we were going walking.”
Her: *Goes and lies in her bed.* “See, I am sleeping. I don’t need a walk.”
Me: *Picks Ayla up, carries her outside.*
Her: *Shivers.* I can’t walk, too cold.
Me: You will be napping the next three hours. You need to walk. *Pulls her along.*
Her: *Resists moving.* I. Cannot. Walk.
Me: *Picks Ayla up, walks to the end of the road, sets her down.*
Her: *Shivers.*
Me: “You want to go home where it’s warm? The only way home is to walk back.”
Her: “Oh. I guess we can walk home.” *Stops shivering, starts walking.*
ayla in her raincoat
Ayla in her raincoat and sweater after running back to in her bed.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply