Often the thing that dog trainers hear most is ‘my dog pulls my arm off when we walk’ or ‘he pulls so hard he gags himself’. Yeah, that’s not fun.
But what I’m going to talk about today is the exact opposite problem, balking. Balking means he plops his butt down and won’t move, or she braces her legs and acts like you are asking her to walk across an invisible bridge. Ahh come on, would you? Me, neither.
A couple quick balking tips. One to realize that this is very usual puppy or shy dog behavior. Yeah, they do that, especially if you leave the home turf. They are just getting used to being here and you want them to go there! Why oh why, they stress seceretly. What nefarious purpose do you have? They outgrow this in a few months.
Use this time to practice your leash walking skills. Just go back and forth in front of your house and driveway. Back and forth back and forth. You can still get your mile – or your two blocks – in, going back and forth. Pop in your music and just go. Keep the leash loose and encourage baby with bits of treat and lots of praise. Soon – a week or more – add in another house. Just one more, and do that till puppy is walking nicely there. You are going to have this dog ten plus years. I promise you will be walking whereever you want before then! A couple months of back and forth will be worth it in the long run.
The other thing to do is when puppy starts to balk it to turn around – take a couple steps backwards calling puppy to come. Then as soon as he starts to come, you walk forward, so you are going past him. “Let’s go!!!” and often they turn around and follow. Then a few back and forths again.
Treats are always good. Make sure they are something exceptionally yummy because – hey, there’s a big wide smelly world and you have to compete! Let puppy sniff the treat enclosed in your fist, maybe a tiny bit and then, move your hand and hope he follows. “Touch” is a good command to practice at home. If he touches your hand or fist, then his feet will follow his nose.
Stick his favorite squeak toy in your pocket and when he comes to balk stage, bring it out, squeak it and toss it ahead of you. Not far – you don’t want to create a pull situation. Because that is a whole ‘nother ball game!