Exuberant Boxers often cause frustration when their owners try to walk them on-leash. All you want is a nice, calm walk but they want to bounce and pull. Boxers are big enough that leash pulling is not only irritating, it can be dangerous. It takes some patience, but your Boxer can learn to walk nicely. The following easy training tips will help make sure that your Boxer doesn’t pull on the leash.
#1 – Start Young
As soon as you bring home your Boxer, start leash training. This includes just an eight-week old pup. The sooner you instill those good leash manners, the better. Why wait until his is over 50 pounds and a teenager to train him when you can do it while he weighs just 10 pounds?
#2 – Practice Attention
Boxers love life and experience it to the fullest – it’s one of the things we love about them! But it can also cause them to want to pull you everywhere to greet a stranger, play with a dog, or even just to smell the roses. A key to stopping these behaviors is to keep your Boxer focused on you during a walk. Working on looking at you when you say her name, offering eye contact without a cue, “leave it” and “drop” are important to leash training.
#3 – Teach Self-Control
Dogs with lots of energy also usually need to be taught self-control. Boxers are known for “bouncing off the walls” when they are young, so teaching self-control can help keep them calm and cool while on a walk. “Stay,” “go to bed”(mat-stay behavior), sitting for a toy/food/petting, etc., are all good ways to work on self-control.
#4 – Reward Correct Positioning
Whenever your Boxer is in heel position – walking nicely by your side with a loose leash – be sure you are rewarding him. You can even turn this into a game – something Boxers love – by trying to move away from your dog and seeing if he stays with your off-leash in your house or in your backyard. Start off easy and get faster/tighter turns as your dog learns the game. Rewards can be anything he likes, including treats, praise, toys, etc. As long as your Boxer likes it, it’s a reward. Dogs repeat behaviors that are reinforced, so the more you reinforce him for being in that spot, the more he will do it. It’s as simple as that!
#5 – Don’t Let Pulling Be Reinforced
As mentioned above, dogs do what gets reinforced. If your Boxer pulls on the leash and gets what he wants (to sniff that bush, to greet that person, to play with that dog) then he will continue to do it and it will get worse. Instead, if you feel your Boxer start to pull you in one direction, you can plant your feet and not move, waiting until he returns to you. Or, if he is stronger than you, turn and walk the opposite way. Once he is walking next to you nicely, you can go the way he wanted to. This teaches your Boxer that if he wants to go somewhere, he has to keep that leash loose.