Most people do not stop to think about it, but there is a right way and a wrong way to walk your dog. And because most people do not think about it, most people get it wrong.Fact.
‘Whats the big deal?’ you probably wonder, since we all do it, and most of our dogs are perfectly happy, why should it matter? But it does matter, because if you fail to get it right it can lead to all sorts of problems – maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday it will come back to bite you (I hope in the metaphorical sense).
Walking your dog is the most important and significant time you can spend with your dog. This is when your dog understands its ‘pack’ most clearly. I know its become unfashionable to think about dogs as pack animals and people prefer the warm and fluffy companion version of their animal, but the reality is that your dog has been bred for generation upon generation to be a pack animal.
Dogs live in packs, whether you like it or not. Your dog lives in a pack – if you could ask your dog it would tell you that you and it and the rest of your household are a pack.
That doesn’t mean that you need to lose the warm and fluffy companion aspect of your dog, far from it, but you need to recognise that there are times where a certain amount of adherence to the laws of the pack are required – walking is the key time for this to be the case. Why? Because that’s when the pack really comes into its own.
You can be warm and fluffy every other minute of your day with your dog, but on the walk, you need to be firmly in control.
Here are three simple ways that you can do this.Keep the dogs lead short.A short lead gives you control as to when your dog stops, starts and where it goes.
On the walk, you make the decisions on this, not your dog. Hold the lead so your dog is either directly at your side or a half step behind. Your dog should never lead the way, but should follow you. Your dog doesn’t get to sniff about or just suddenly stop when it wants.
You decide all of this. There should be virtually no slack on the lead when you walk.Toileting happens where you want it toYou do not stop on your walk until you decide, which means your dog has no choice but not to do its business until you let it.
Once you have come to an area you deem appropriate, you can let your dog sniff around and find its own space within that space.Play/reward is an important part of the walkYour dog needs to think of your pack outing (the walk) as being like work. Its not a social event.
But that’s not to say that you and your dog cant have fun. The walk should be at least 30 minutes total (depending on the age and health of your dog – if in doubt, double check with your vet). But within that time, you should plan to play and relax.
Now that may be throwing a ball around the park, or letting your dog loose in order to have agood sniff about and rummage in the flow, it can be whatever you like. But you should make a point of trying to have fun – cuddles and treats and happy voices. But the play should only be a fraction of the total walk time.
So in a 30 minute walk, maybe 7 or 8 minutes should be for fun and games. You can read here to see why walking your dog properly is such a big dealFollowing these simple rules will allow for a much more successful and productive walk, and will only stand to improve your dog’s behaviour.