Walking your dog

Dog, Canine, Mammal, Animal, White Dog

Walking your dog can be a terrific experience for both of you and your dog. Even if the weather that day isn’t ideal, many dogs are so enthusiastic about going out for a walk which it is hard not to get at least a little excited about going out together and exploring the wonderful outdoors. The only problem is that walking alongside their owners outside isn’t natural for any dog. So if you have a new puppy or a dog that has never learned to let you control the walk, I hope I have some helpful information here for you.
Why go through the effort to train your dog to walk with you? Well, if you have a medium or large dog that pulls towards every smell, every squirrel, or every other dog, I think you already know the answer to this question. Under these conditions, walking with the most loving dog on the most glorious spring day can become a chore, or even painful. But even if we do not consider extreme cases, a dog walking correctly next to you has many other benefits. First, if he is permitted to walk in front of you he is less aware of what pace and direction you’re moving. No wonder you must tug on the leash to get him to turn those corners! Also, for those who have a dog or puppy that wants to eat anything that smells good he comes across, how can you intercede if you’re way behind him? Finally, there are lots of trainers that feel that dogs will become the “Celebration Rat Removal” if they feel nobody else is filling that position. A number of these trainers are fast to point out that most dogs do not wish to be the pack leader. They would be less anxious and more relaxed to let somebody else run the show, but in the wild, the pack will only survive if there is a leader, so they instinctively try to measure up to the job. This means if you are not the top the walk, your puppy will lead the walk. Which probably sounds okay until the pulling begins.
As we begin our journey to great dog walking, let’s start with the basics; the collar or harness. If you already know your dog is a strong puller, a standard leash and collar may not prevent him from injuring himself. Alternatives such as front-attaching a”halti” type collar should be used.
When you’ve got a puppy or an active puppy, it appears natural to get him outside on a walk immediately to burn off some of that energy. But many trainers advocate building up to the outdoor walk, so we do not need to fight bad habits immediately. Begin by introducing your dog to the leash in a positive manner in a location without distractions, such as in your dwelling. If you find this appears to be the case, do not just plunge ahead only to be disappointed with your dog’s walking skills. Begin taking out the leash a few times a day and don’t walk him. The idea is for him to begin to see that the leash does not always mean it’s time to go outdoors. Taking your dog outside to play in the backyard BEFORE the walk also helps in such cases.
Start off by taking a short walk after a direct path, rewarding eye contact. Use treats in a productive way. Some dogs will be so excited when they are walking outside they won’t seem to be interested in treats (or you), so right from the beginning, clinic calling your dog’s name and then giving him a treat when he responds with eye contact. Other dogs love their treats so much that simply giving them one treat seems to make them almost lose interest in the walk as they start searching for the next snack. Begin your introduction to the walk indoors, then your backyard and then the sidewalk in front of your property.
There are various techniques for handling the inevitable leashing pulling that you will experience, but the most recommended method is to just stop walking when there is tension on the leash. Your dog is excited about something ahead and he really doesn’t mind dragging you along if it means he can get to what’s so interesting. To put it simply, don’t reward pulling by allowing your dog to get to his goal by pulling you along and you should be consistent about it. Sometimes simply stopping will be sufficient to make your dog curious about what happened to you and he will return or even return to you, which is great. Despite the fact that this outcome is positive and you should encourage and reward it, you may need to take a more proactive response, namely gently but firmly reversing direction after a verbal signal (“let’s go” or something along those lines). Also, if your dog has begun to associate you calling his name with him getting a deal, simply calling him may do just fine.
During the learning period, expect to be reversing direction fairly frequently. Do not be discouraged by unfulfilled expectations that you cover a certain route. Judge your success on a minute by minute basis. If your dog is not pulling, you’re setting up a walking behavior that will help you for years to come. This is true even if you have some 20 or 30 minute walks but never get more than a few houses away from home because of you are reversing direction so frequently. Finally, try to allow extra time for your walks. You won’t be able to guide your dog through his correct walking manners if you need to be rushing back home.
As your dog learns how to walk with you without pulling, you will discover that not only are you getting exercise and fresh air, but you’re walking together as a team, which is a pretty great experience for any dog owner.

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