Walking your Dog – A Two-Way Street
Walking your Dog – A Two-Way Street
Regardless if you own a puppy or adult dog, one of the most important things you can do as a pet owner is provide basic obedience training. Included in this would be simple commands such as “sit”, “lie down”, and “stay”. However, we also recommend proper leash training. Not only would this make dog walking more enjoyable but it would also ensure the safety of your pet and others. Simply put – walking your dog is a two-way street, meaning there has to be a meeting of the minds between you and your pet.
Keep in mind that you could always enroll your dog in an official training class but with so much available information there is no reason that proper leashing training cannot be completed at home. Of course, you would need to choose an appropriate method and show a tremendous amount of patience, at least initially. Remember, most dogs learn quickly and are eager to please so again, you want to use a training method that has been proven to work.
If dealing with a puppy, it would be important to provide an opportunity for the animal to become accustomed to the leash. For starters, make sure the puppy is always wearing a collar. Then, place the leash on the floor and leave it for several days. This gives the puppy ample time to smell the strange object and overcome any fear. After three or four days, the leash would then be attached to the collar. Usually, a puppy will shy away to some degree but again, allow the animal to drag the leash around for five or ten minutes at a time. Within a day or two, the leash will no longer been seen as a threat.
With this done, actual leash training could begin toward the ultimate goal of dog walking without issues. One of the first challenges is getting the dog to not pull. Try to remember that this behavior is natural, even when not afraid of the leash. In most cases, it will take a few weeks to get the process down so every walk should be considered part of the training process. We also recommend taking frequent walks but keeping them short and as stress-free as possible.
One last thing we want to mention before going over actual dog walking tips is that regular exercise would be imperative. Because leash training should be done in short intervals, the animal would not get adequate exercise. Especially as a puppy, there has to be a method for burning off energy. Otherwise, training and dog walking would be disastrous. Even an adult should get regular exercise in addition to leash training, which improves attention and enhances results.
Dog Walking Tips for Training
Although there are a number of different methods you might consider, we wanted to provide some tips that top trainers around the country recommend most.
In order for a dog to walk correctly on a leash the animal needs to be calm. As an example, if your dog becomes overly excited whenever you bring the leash out and you immediately take the animal outside to walk, it will be far more difficult to training but also get the situation under control. In this case, you want to use the basic “sit” command and then have the dog sit still for a minute to calm down. At that point, the leash could be attached and the animal walked.
At first, there should be very little slack in the leash. This allows you to stay in control but also guide the dog in a more effective manner. As the animal responds favorably, you would allow a little more slack but not so much that the animal begins to pull. With time, you will get to the point that you can walk your dog and have full control with the full length of the leash loose.
Rewards are also a critical part of training. Obviously, you want to choose low fat and healthy snack foods, preferably those your dog likes best. You also want to offer treats as a reward at opportune times opposed to randomly. For instance, if your dog walks alongside you without pulling for some distance, stop, give the “sit” command, and if the animal responds then a reward would be offered along with verbal praise.
Clicker training is a method preferred by most pet owners. When pressed, this handheld device called a clicker makes a clicking sound. For training, you would create the sound when the dog correctly follows a command, which is then followed up with a treat and praise. Very quickly, the animal associates the sound with doing what you ask and of course, being rewarded. It can take a little practice but overall, clicker training is an exceptional way to work on dog walking skills.
We also recommend a relatively fast pace when walking with your dog. The reason is that dogs, especially puppies, are easily distracted by sights and sounds. Keeping up a fast pace eliminates the opportunity for the animal to stop and look around or sniff things along the way.
It is important not to make leash training overly complicated. While there is a process involved, with patience, consistency, and using the right method, your dog will learn quickly. Before long, both you and your dog can spend time outdoors. Dog walking is not only enjoyable but it provides healthy benefits such as weight loss as well.