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Pet Stroller Training: Teach Your Dog to Ride in a Stroller
Teach Your Dog To Ride in a Pet Stroller

I am crazy about the pet stroller!

As far as I’m concerned, it is the greatest invention. I originally bought one to take my senior dog Red on outings, but sadly I now have another use for my stroller. Jack, my young dog (around 4 years) recently underwent spinal surgery. He is unable to walk yet and facing a long recovery, so I take him out twice a day to relieve boredom.

If you need a stroller in your life but your dog refuses to have anything to do with it, don’t worry, because this training will help.

Introductions  

If your dog is unsure or even downright terrified, please do not pick him up and plop him in. That can make him more fearful, and turn this into a bigger deal than it ever needed to be.

Step 1: Set the stroller up somewhere in your house, then leave it there for your dog to investigate.  

Step 2: If he’s calm, give him a treat, or play with a favorite toy near the stroller.

Step 3: If he’s nervous, back up until he’s at a distance he’s comfortable with, then play with him or give him a treat. Make sure he can see the stroller.

Step 4: Gradually move closer and give him a treat or play with him.  

Step 5: Once he’s fine next to it, pick him up, put him in and give him a treat. If at any point he panics, stop and resume the training later, from the last point where he was still comfortable. 

Step 6: Start rolling. My dogs get very irritable if I put them in the stroller, and we don’t start moving within seconds. If that’s happening with your dog, he may just want to get going already.

Step 7: Roll him out into the garden. If he’s uncomfortable or nervous being outside, repeat the first few steps, only this time outside. You may be able to breeze through once he gets used to the change in environment.

Step 8: Time to hit the streets! Start off close to home then venture further afield. Try a quiet street, the park, then a busier area, public transport perhaps.

Why so many steps?

Some dogs will love the stroller right away, but for those that need time, taking training slowly greatly increases the likelihood of success. Offering treats and favorite toys creates positive associations. You want him to see how many great things happen when he’s in the stroller.

Keeping him safe

Put a harness on your dog, and attach a leash that you hold, to prevent him jumping out in a stressful or uncomfortable situation. If I’m in the middle of a crowd, and my dog(s) seem a bit nervous, I zip the awning to enclose the stroller, creating a den they can relax in.   

Pet stroller training: conclusion

Your dog may hop right in and wonder why he’s not moving, or take a bit of convincing. For dogs that need time to adjust, this pet stroller training will get you teaching your dog to ride in a stroller in no time.  

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Hindy Pearson is a dog trainer and behavior consultant. She is a long time shelter volunteer, and fosters and adopts senior and special needs dogs and cats. Hindy has a website called Caring for a Senior Dog and believes the best invention is the pet stroller, and loves how much it has helped her and her dogs.

Photo by Trish Hamme

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