The wheaten terrier has his own agenda, which makes him difficult to train. The 35-pound wheaten displays a surprising amount of strength when he pulls you and his leash to instinctively chase small animals. Consistent training with positive reinforcement makes walks far more enjoyable for you and your furry companion.
Start walking your wheaten on a leash in the house. In the outdoors, cars, squirrels, people or any strange sound guarantees your wheaten's attention will be focused elsewhere. Keep your wheaten on a six-foot leash and practice walking from room to room. The wheaten is a stubborn breed, so expect resistance while training him to walk on a leash. If your wheaten moves ahead, slow down; if he turns right, you turn left. This shows your dog that you're in control of the destination and speed of the walk. Once your wheaten is patiently walking room to room without pulling the leash, practice in the backyard. Proceed to walks around the block when your wheaten is walking without pulling his leash. Throughout the training process, give him treat and enthusiastically tell him he's a good dog when he's walking at a steady pace, paying attention to your commands.
Stop and ignore your wheaten when he pulls on the leash. Hold the leash firmly with both hands and keep your feet planted on the ground. Do not budge, talk or make eye contact with your wheaten. Keep the leash straight and tight. As soon as your wheaten loosens the leash, give him a treat and say “Good dog!” and immediately continue the walk. If he pulls again, repeat the same steps and ignore your dog. Walking is rewarding for your dog, so stopping is ruining his fun--especially if he had his eye on capturing a rabbit in the park. Continue to stop and ignore your wheaten until he stops pulling on the leash.
Tell your dog to sit and stay every 10 to 15 yards. If your wheaten is working on commands during the walk, it helps him stay calm and focused. A sitting dog is unable to pull on the leash. If you're dog is too distracted to practice commands while on a lengthy walk, return to walking room to room inside your home or practice in the backyard. Have your wheaten sit more frequently if you're distracting him from a small animal. Hunting is what your wheaten was bred to do, but practicing the sit command gives him a secondary outlet to focus his attention during walks.
Praise good leash walking behaviors. If your wheaten is walking with a loose leash, staying by your side and looking back at you, tell him “Good dog!” and give him a treat while you walk, according to the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America. Give treats only if your dog is not pulling on the leash.
- Although regular harnesses encourage pulling, several brands of no-pull harnesses are available to keep your wheaten from dragging you during walks. No-pull harnesses prevent pulling while you're training your wheaten to walk on a regular leash and should not replace leash training.
- Use extra-juicy and tasty treats to keep your wheaten's attention during leash training. Liver, cooked chicken chunks and cut-up hot dogs are excellent training tools.
- Practice having your dog sit for five minutes outside without walking. Keep a leash on him and stand next to him. This allows him to watch and become accustomed to everything he's going to meet on walks. If he tries getting up, take him in the house. Try again in two to three minutes. He'll soon learn that standing up means he has to go inside.
- Always have your wheaten sit before crossing the street.
- Enroll your wheaten in obedience classes. These classes teach basic commands and walking on a leash.
- Your wheaten needs a sturdy leather or web-buckle collar and leash specific to his size.
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.