Make walking your dog FUN!
Here are some tips for a FUN WALK – For BOTH you and your dog! from the dog trainer Gillian Ridgeway of Who’s Walking Who and Bullwrinkles delicious dog treats.
After the eventful and BUSY Pawlooza that hosted about 6,000 dogs walking around the park with their families we couldn’t help but notice what makes for a good…or bad walk with your dog. Make “W-A-L-K” a great four letter word!
Walking is a fun and easy activity you can share with your dog. You get to bond, relax and burn off the day’s energy.
However, it can easily slip into a nightmare – running down the street at top speed after the neighbours cat or a squirrel, being constantly pulled around or getting into an altercation with an unfriendly stranger. How to help avoid these horrors:
How to help avoid a bad walk with your dog:
Be Calm, Confident and Positive!
Dogs read our energy and the quickest way to put your dog in a state of alert-fulness is to tense up suddenly. Remember you are in control and you are the leader! If you have an encounter with another person and/or dog that starts to go bad, don’t escalate the situation- this will just excite the dogs while reducing your control over them. Use positive training to reward basic obedience, the heel and behaviour you want. Try to avoid “rewarding” negative behaviour.
Socializing is Key – But ASK first!
This applies to strange dogs and strangers — you won’t necessarily know a new dog’s personality, or whether a person is afraid of dogs. You may have the friendliest dogs in the world, but not all dogs are social butterflies. The best way to avoid a problem is to ASK.
Try, “are they friendly” or “can ___ say hello to your dog?” or give people, especially children, space in case and watch for signs of fear. If the other walker’s dog or child has an issue, they’ll tell or show you, and you can both act appropriately. Socializing goes hand in hand with walking your dog so let them greet other dogs on their walks so they become used to all types they may encounter.
Walk with a standard leash
Retractable leads have a purpose, they were originally designed for certain types of tracking and recall training with dogs. For walking, a standard leash is best. This allows for more control of your dog. Retractable leads teach your dog the wrong thing: “pulling on the lead will get me what I want “— in this case, the freedom to run all over the place. When they stop pulling, the lead pulls back, so the desire to pull and run away is constantly reinforced. A simple leash is all you need, then once you and your dog build up trust the option to go off leash for your dog is a far better choice.
Walking with your dog is a bonding experience for both of you, and learning to be in the moment like your dog is a useful skill that you can apply to other areas of your life! You can’t lead if your attention is focused elsewhere. It only takes an instant of inattention to wind up in an awkward or unsafe situation. You owe it to your dog to be aware and fully in the moment.