If you like the idea of taking your dog out into the world in the comfort of his very own dog stroller, you might wonder how you can do it. How can you train your dog to be comfortable and happy in a dog stroller? With this article, I will give you a beginner’s look into stroller-training your canine companion.
Why Should You Use a Dog Stroller?
First of all, why should you use a dog stroller with your hound instead of a leash? Well, if your dog is elderly or disabled, a dog stroller is a good option so your dog doesn’t wear himself out. It can also be a good idea for small dogs or dogs who may otherwise be in danger from other dogs or hazards.
How Do You Train Your Dog to Use a Dog Stroller?
Whatever the reason for using a dog stroller, you have to be deliberate and patient with training your dog to use it. Make sure you have a basic understanding of your dog’s behavior so you can gauge how he is feeling and reacting as you progress through this guide.
Step 1: Get Your Dog Used to the Stroller
The first step to training your dog is to introduce them to the stroller. It is best to do this in an environment where your dog already feels safe and comfortable, like inside your house. Set up the stroller in a room your dog likes to hang out in, and let your dog explore the new item.
Dog noses are hundreds of times more sensitive than human noses. Your dog will want to sniff the stroller and understand it. Let him do this at his own pace.
During this step, you should also move the stroller around, so your dog understands it is a moving object, not a stationary piece of furniture like a couch. Perhaps every day, you introduce the stroller to your dog in a slightly different location. Perhaps you can even move it as your dog is sniffing it out!
Step 2: Try Putting Your Dog into the Stroller
Once the novelty of the new item has worn off some, you can try putting your dog into the stroller. Leave the stroller open as you do this, so your dog has the option to jump out and leave if he chooses. If the stroller feels like a trap or a punishment, it will be much harder, even impossible, to train your dog to use it.
You can also leave the stroller open the first time you introduce your dog to it. Perhaps your dog will hop in and out of it on his own as part of his exploration!
Step 3: Positive Reinforcement
When you put your dog in the stroller, or when he jumps in on his own, have a treat ready as a reward. The key here is to associate the stroller with good feelings by linking it with getting a treat your dog loves. You can also put treats directly into the stroller so your dog gets his reward as soon as he jumps in.
Step 4: Step By Step
When your dog is used to the stroller and used to being in the stroller, it’s time to try zipping him into it. Remember that for this whole process, patience is key. Do not rush your pooch to the next step before he’s ready! If your dog acts unhappy or skittish around the stroller, take it back a step and get him comfortable again.
Try closing up the stroller with your dog inside, and keep it closed for a few moments. Remember you can also put treats in the stroller to occupy and satisfy your dog. Before your dog gets uncomfortable or antsy, open up the stroller and give them a treat to reinforce the behavior you want.
The next baby step would be to move the stroller with the dog inside. For this, I recommend leaving the stroller open. Let your dog have an escape route. But if he stays inside with the movement, be ready to reinforce this with praise and treats.
Another baby step involves putting your dog in the stroller and strapping him in with his leash. When taking all of these little steps, make sure to do them individually before you start combining them. The ultimate goal is to have your dog strapped into the stroller, zipped up, and comfortable with movement, outside the house. To get to this goal, train your dog to get used to each phase on its own.
Step 5: Try Going Outside!
Remember that you should do all of the previous steps of this training inside your home. Do not take your dog on an adventure outside until he’s completely comfortable with the stroller. When you can close him into the stroller and wheel it around your house without him getting upset, then you are both probably ready to try going outside.
Make sure to follow the pattern of slow, gradual changes. Start with short walks, maybe just down the street and back, or around the outside of the house. As your pooch gets more comfortable, you can try going for longer walks. As always, make sure to reward your dog with treats and praise, not just at the end of the walk, but throughout it as well.
Keep in mind your dog’s comfort levels throughout this process. If he seems uncomfortable no matter how slow and patient you are, understand that perhaps your dog is not destined for the dog stroller. When in doubt, I hope you prioritize your dog’s preferences over your own.
Hopefully this guide will help you get your dog used to a dog stroller. As with any sort of training, you are working with your dog to accomplish a goal. Once you get him trained, the world is yours for the taking. Happy strolling!