We have a 4 month old cavalier , who never wants to go for a walk. We use a harness when we walk him and I feel that half of the time we have to drag him which I don’t want to do. My hubby says we have to show him who is the boss!
He enjoys running free and if out walking will follow other dogs almost at a run. I allow him to stop and sniff and try and make a walk pleasurable but actually getting him started is difficult. He will just sit on the driveway and refuse to move. I will sometimes carry him for a short while to get him started, but I really don’t think he actually enjoys walking on his lead, and would rather not bother. Is this normal for a Cavalier?
Thanks, from Australia.
Thank you for your enquiry.
At 4 months old your spaniel puppy will have only recently finished his course of vaccinations and begun to learn about life. Dragging him on a harness will only create negative associations with walks, which should be a pleasurable thing. Far from “showing him who is the boss”, you should be encouraging him with yummy treats and bags of praise. It could be that he now has a negative association with the harness and will tense up when it is put on. My advice is to ditch the harness! Harnesses are for dogs who pull, snow dogs and the like. They can also deform a puppy’s chest and shoulders as they are growing. Use, instead. a soft collar and leave a two finger gap between the collar and the dogs neck The collar will need to be extended on a regular basis, at least monthly as the puppy grows.
DO NOT PUT TENSION ON THE LEAD! Stand with the puppy by your side with a handful of treats — small pieces of cheese, small slices of hot dog sausage etc. This is a training session which can be done on your drive, not on a walk. Holding the lead loosely, offer the puppy a treat right in front of his nose. Give the puppy a treat when he moves forward. When puppy moves one step, treat, move again, treat and praise him in a friendly tone, as though he has done the best thing in the world! Continue this way until puppy is happy to move forward for a treat. DO NOT PULL ON THE LEAD! After a couple of minutes, end the training session. Finish on a good note, after puppy has moved forward and received his treat, not when the treats run out! Repeat the training 4 or 5 times a day and make it a pleasurable, rewarding experience for the puppy.
Forget walks until puppy is happy walking on a lead. This will take anything from days to weeks, depending on the amount of negativity which has been created by using harsh methods. In the mean time carry puppy out of your garden and socialize him with people and known safe dogs. He can run free in safe areas, but do not expect him to walk on a lead outside your property yet! Do not expect puppy to do anything else on the training session eg toileting. One thing at once! Only when puppy is happy to walk on a lead on your driveway should he be taken out on a short walk, which may be only a few yards and back again. Gradually extend the walks for as long as puppy is happy.
Do let me know how things progress.