Walking your dog is a great way to get some exercise, reinforce the bond between you two, and a great time to practice training and tricks. One of the biggest questions many owners have is about finding the best type of leash and collar or harness for walks. Harnesses, collars, and halti leads are all effective walking tools if used correctly. But they also must be used with commands, rewards, and patience. Leashes can range from length to material to type (flexi vs standard). It’s best to use the leash that you feel comfortable holding and that helps you have the most control over your pup.
Flexi leads are great for walks in the park where it is safe for your dog to roam a bit further away from you than on a sidewalk. They aren’t good for high traffic areas or in dog parks. The line can get wrapped around your dog, your leg, or someone else and cause injuries.
Chain leashes are heavier than nylon or leather ones and look nice. They can also work well with dogs that are bigger, stronger, and tug hard on walks. However, because of their weight, using a chain leash with a small or medium dog can add weight to their neck where the leash and collar meet or on their harness. Wrapping the leash around your hand if you need to shorten it in high traffic areas can injure you too. During summer months, chain leashes and chain collars can become hot from the sun so think about swapping the chain for a nylon or leather collar and leash during the sunny months.
Leather and nylon leashes are some of the most common types of leashes people use and they are the easiest on their hands. Nylon leashes can cut into the hands a little more than leather and cause “leash burn” if a dog pulls hard. But these leashes hold up well in all weather and are great for any type of walk. Plus if you like to get fun stuff for your dog, there are so many different designs and colors available for collars and leashes that your dog can be in style all the time.
Ok, so now that you have a good leash, a collar, tags, and your dog, how do you curb the pulling of an excited dog who wants to explore?
Constantly pulling on a leash can be stressful and dangerous. A quick, unexpected tug and you’re on the ground and your dog is off and running. It’s a common problem to have a dog that pulls but can be countered with a good head halter, a gentle leader, and reinforcing commands and training. You can try stopping when your dog starts to pull, ask him to sit, and wait for a few seconds. Then start the walk again. You can also try changing direction to redirect your dog’s thoughts and attention. Some people also go out the door running and job their dog for several blocks to help burn off some of the excitement that their dog feels when it’s “walkies.”
If you’re planning an extended walk, be sure to bring water for your dog—especially if it’s warm outside. Walks are great opportunities to reinforce and introduce new commands. After walking for a bit, finding a good place to review old tricks and learn new ones your dog should be able to focus on you because some of the intial excitement has burned off and some of the energy has been expelled. A tired dog is usually a well-behaved dog. Walking first before training is a good way to strengthen the bond between you two, get some nervous energy out, and working on tricks outside helps your dog be able to focus and ignore distractions.
And if you find that your walks are getting boring then try walking down some new blocks, another part of town, and let your dog experience new sights, smells, and sounds. Walk to fun places like a friend’s house, to the pet store, or to the waterfront or across a bridge if you live in a city that has a river dividing it up. Also, plan walks with your friends who have dogs too and make it time where everyone gets to hang out. Walks don’t have to be solitary adventures where it’s just you and your buddy.
Have fun, take your dog for a walk!