Walking your dog is the most important thing you can do with your dog. The walk sets the tone for everything.
Let's see if this looks familiar... You ask your dog, "Do you want to go for a walk?" Your dog starts bouncing between jumping on you and jumping on the door uncontrollably. With every question repetition the whining and barking escalates while you frantically try to clip the leash to your bouncing dog's collar. Then you open the door and your dog darts out, almost pulling you down the stairs in the process. As your dog almost pulls your arm out of the socket dragging you down the sidewalk, he stops to pee on every bush, tree, and blade of grass, barks at every dog he sees, and is seemingly on his own agenda.
Does that sound about right? Whatever happened to calm, relaxed walks? Walking your dog should be the greatest joy of dog ownership. Is it hopeless? Absolutely not!
In fact, I know people who have struggled for months and even years with the walk. Sometimes, we can change their lives in a Free 30 minute consultation session. Sometimes it takes longer, but it is building a relationship. It is teaching your dog to follow. It's teaching the human to be a leader. Once the dog learns to follow, it's like a dance. It's enjoyable. It turns from a chore to pleasure and it's certainly easier on your joints.
Young puppies should absolutely explore the world. There is time to teach them to walk nicely on a leash. Just don't wait until they are too big to handle. Teach them to check in with you constantly. Teach them to come when you call. So many great learning moments on walks.
Start by making the walk uneventful. Don't ask your dog if they want to go. Just grab the leash, if they get excited, put it back. Wait until there is zero excitement picking up the leash to moving onto the next step. (I prefer to leave a leash on the dog all the time, this makes putting it on uneventful.) Next, don't let your dog barge out the door. Instead, wait for a calm respect before inviting them out the door. Then, if they need to slow down again, have them sit on the other side of the door. Don't even go for a walk if you don't have your dogs attention. You can achieve this by making quick pivot turns away from your dog the second they start to pass you. When they turn to come with you, mark and reward next to your hip. Once they are paying better attention, do some turns in front of them. Add some speed changes and stops and starts. When you stop walking, your dog should sit. Once you have their attention and they are engaged, then you can proceed on your walk. If they struggle with reactivity, you might need professional help. Reactivity can lead to redirected aggression on the owner, it can also lead to aggression, or simply rude behavior. Dogs can be reactive because of fear or excitement. It's our job to advocate for them and teach them how to be a happy and well-adjusted member of society.
If you need help, please reach out. Don't struggle for months or years.