Pet Stroller Training 101 (For Big Dogs)

A few months ago, I decided Rolo’s life needed to change. Rolo was having major issues with his body (hind end weakness as well as weight gain) as results from upping his Phenobarbital (canine epilepsy medication) as well as the start of arthritis in his hips (not from the medication). Rolo went through a very rough patch where he couldn’t get up on the hardwood floor, needed help on the stairs, would fall down the stairs, limp, whine, squeak not be able to walk for longer than 10 minutes among other things. It was a dog moms worse nightmare as making his life comfortable and protecting him is my job! We are so thankful to Rolo’s “Stroller Angels” who helped him get his stroller as this will keep on improving his way life. Rolo can walk but not for long periods of time before he starts getting sore. We have been doing some leg rehab to get the strength back in them. He is doing great but as Rolo and I attend many pet events throughout the year that require a lot of walking, having a crutch to turn to is a must have for him to be comfortable and partake, rather than staying at the hotel or home.

I wanted to share with you all how I trained Rolo to ride in his stroller. Rolo is not a small dog, so I cannot just pick him up, put him in and buckle him up. He needed to be the one to  do it on his own, with my guidance of course. I believe ALL animals should be trained only using positive reinforcement only, this is how I train Rolo for everything. Rolo like to call it “praise & cookies”

I did alot of research before choosing a doggie stroller for Rolo as I wanted something with lots of great reviews! We went with purchasing a Doggy Ride Original Stroller in the Jogger Edition, which also comes with a memory foam mat (how comfy!). I believe its the Mercedes-Benz of doggie strollers!

Let’s get started!

1) Project- Get Him Inside:
Rolo doesn’t not like to be confined, he hates being under blankets, snuggling and has never been in a kennel before. This was going to be a challenge! I am very thankful that Rolo is treat motivated as I find it makes it just that much easier in training him to do something, Plus he loves getting praise and squeaks away in response. I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable or freak him out with pushing him around right away so my first task was just getting him inside and laying down.

On the metal bar attached to the front wheel, I locked my legs together around it to hold the stroller as Rolo is a big boy and I didn’t want the stroller to move and freak him out (Photos Below of the leg lock while outside). I grabbed a treat and lured him in. He jumped up through the back and out through the front. It took a few times before he would get in and lay down. He would sit there for a while so I would give him small pieces of cookie along with some praise and pets on the head until he could get in there no problem and sit right down. This took a few days of training for 10 minutes or so each day. Notice Rolo sitting there waiting for his cookie.

PicMonkey Collage

2) I like to Move It, Move It:
Once we got the get in and sit down mastered it was time to move the stroller with Rolo inside. Rolo has serious issues with change, so it was best to keep it nice and slow as I didn’t want to startle him. I sat on the floor and pushed the stroller back and forth on the floor. He was only going about a foot away from me. Rolo jumped out. So it was back to #2 to practice getting in and sitting down, than we went back to slowly moving the stroller. I gave him tons of praise, pets and a few pieces of cookies… It was working. We practiced this each day for a few days.

roo in stroller

3) Ridin’ Dirty:
I picture Rolo singing the rap song “Ridin’ Dirty by Chamillionaire”  every time I see him sitting in his stroller and sometimes I even catch myself laughing out-loud. As we received the stroller when it was snow-covered grounds outside I decided to wait until all the snow was gone before I would take him outside to work on pushing him in the stroller. Well the first time I took him out, he was so excited to be outside with no ice that he wouldn’t go anywhere near the stroller. I decided to take him for a small walk and then try to get him inside. I got my legs locked, lured him inside with a treat, got him to sit down and then gave another treat (so much for his diet hey!)

PicMonkey Collage
I broke the cookies even smaller as I knew I would be giving him quite a few as we tried to walk the path in front of our house. As I train Rolo he knows when he does something good that he will receive some sort of treat, which makes him always want to do good because he looooves food! As of this day Rolo isn’t full quite comfortable to ride in the stroller without the treats as we have only been out a handful of times for 15 minutes each session.  You can tell from the photos above that he is just staring at me waiting for his next treat. I also caught him looking back through the mesh watching what I was doing.  I believe that in just a few more sessions Rolo will be fully comfortable to go for longer walks with less treats.


Rolo & I want to know; Does your dog ride in a stroller?
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11 thoughts on “Pet Stroller Training 101 (For Big Dogs)

  1. Dog Mom Days says:

    This is so fantastic. I’ve enjoyed watching your journey, and your new stroller experience! Of course, I have a stroller for Wynston but it’s just because he’s small and runs out of energy when we go to expos or big events (and so he doesn’t get stepped on). Good work with the positive reinforcement!

    • Kimberley says:

      Thank you :) were working on leg rehab right now its just so much easier to have the stroller for big events. Were prepping for the dog days of may event as its will be ALOT of walking and I know he cannot handle it. plus I don’t want him having to hangout in the hotel and miss out on the fun!

  2. Anne says:

    Fantastic article, and so helpful! I desperately want one for my big boy JJ, who can’t handle even short walks with his disabled paw. I know he would love to take in the scenery outside, but getting him a stroller will be a HUGE challenge (his personality sounds like Rolo), so these tips are super helpful. Congrats on your success, and I’m so glad you reviewed/wrote this, thank you! :)

    • Kimberley says:

      I think one would make JJ feel alot better, than he can go out and explore! For the longest time rolo could only just go infront of our house so his scenery was the same for a very long time.

  3. Daisy The French Bulldog says:

    Very cute post! I am so glad that Rolo had success (and btw he and I TOTALLY have the same taste in music – they see me rollin’, they hatin’….). I think the stroller is great for dogs of all sizes, and especially those with physical limitations. Great job!

  4. Robin says:

    I’m sorry to hear that Rolo is having so much trouble with his hind legs. It is wonderful that he was able to get a stroller to help him out though! It looks like he did great with his training and it getting a lot of benefit from it.

    • Kimberley says:

      Hes getting better and better each day BUT its so great to be able to have a crutch for him when we do go to events, I hate leaving him so this way he can come enjoy rather than stay home or in the hotel.

  5. Jodi Chick says:

    What a great post! We had a stroller for Felix while he recovered from two torn ACLs. It was hard enough when I could pick him up and plop him inside. Working with a stroller and a big dog? That sounds way harder and I am quite impressed!

    • Kimberley says:

      Thanks Jodi! And rolo isn’t used to confined spaces at all But he got the hang of it. I am so happy he is treat motivated because he will do ANYTHING for one!

  6. LaRaine says:

    Thank you for posring this! I’m so glad Rolo has you to help him! I have a dog stroller and have been hesitant to try it out. Your advice and techniques will help. But I do have a question about how to work with my blind dog for training to ride in it. Taking her out on a leash in crowded places is hard and stressful for her (it doesn’t help that she’s a hairless Chinese Crested and everybody is always stopping to look or want to pet her). Her riding calmly and relaxed in the stroller would make outings so much easier on both of us.

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